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WCCountdown: Gaels Look To Prove Doubters Wrong

Aug. 13, 2009

Adam Cooper and the Saint Mary's men's soccer team are hoping to once again prove the rest of the league wrong. For the second consecutive season, the Gaels were picked to finish seventh in the WCC preseason coaches poll. However, last season, the Gaels were the surprise team in the conference, finishing in fourth place with a 5-4-3 WCC record. The .541 winning percentage was their best total since the 1989 team that had a .600 winning percentage. Additionally it marks the best finish since the conference went to a double round robin format in 2004; the 2008 season also featured several other highlights as well.

With eight starters and 19 letterwinners overall returning from last year's squad, the Gaels will once again look to play the role of the darkhorse in the conference race. The Gaels should also benefit from the return of 2007 All-WCC first team member Dylan Leslie, who missed last season with an ACL injury.

Yousef Samy and Jason Badger were huge additions to the 2008 Saint Mary's club. Samy, a 2009 preseason all-conference selection, led the Gaels in scoring with 14 points off six goals and two assists, on his way to being named to the First Team All-WCC squad. Samy set a new Saint Mary's career and season record with two goals off penalty kicks. Badger was also a huge asset to the team, as the transfer from UC Santa Barbara provided excellent upper classmen leadership on a young team. He finished the year with a 1.25 goal against average, marking the fifth-best average in SMC history. He also set the mark for seventh most minutes played (1722:17) and tied for eighth with three shutouts on the season.

Jordan Grider and Jason Coehlo return to anchor the Gaels defense. Both players started every game, and both would go on to earn WCC Honorable Mention status for their contributions to the Gaels' defense which allowed a WCC-low 14 goals during conference play.

Erik Rivas, who also received an honorable mention nod, will team up with Samy to give the Gaels solid playmaking in the midfield. Last season, Rivas was second on the Gaels in scoring with nine points off four goals and one assist.

The Gaels also return a trio of freshmen who earned conference honors in 2008 in redshirt freshmen Justin Grider and Tom Mohoric and true freshmen Emmanuel Sarabia. Grider was named All-WCC honorable mention, while Mohoric and Sarabia were named to the conference's all-freshman team.

Saint Mary's adds eight new players for the 2009 season, including three forwards, one midfielder, three defenders and a goalkeeper. Joining the Gaels up front are Aryeh Cohen, Boyah Kaar, and Bennett Sperber. Midfielder Jose Cabeza and defenders Nathan Arambula, Trevor Newquist, and Patrick Watson also join the Gaels. Rounding out the eight newcomers is goalkeeper Joseph Fellows.

The Gaels begin their 2009 season with an exhibition game on Tuesday, August 25 at Stanford at 7:00pm and will begin the regular season at home on Tuesday, September 1 when they take on Sacramento State at 4:00pm.