Aug. 21, 2006
UNLV at Gonzaga - 1:00 PM
Saint Mary's vs. Butler* - 2:00 PM
San Francisco at California^ - 2:30 PM
Rutgers at San Diego - 7:00 PM
Santa Clara at Stanford^ - 7:00 PM
Loyola Marymount at Connecticut - 4:00 PM
New Mexico at Portland - 7:00 PM
Saint Mary's at Wright State* - 11:00 AM
Albany at San Diego - 12:00 PM
UC Davis at Gonzaga - 2:00 PM
Stanford at San Francisco^ - 7:00 PM
California at Santa Clara^ - 7:00 PM
Loyola Marymount at Central Connecticut State - 9:00 AM
^WCC-Pac-10 Classic; *Wright State Tournament (Dayton, OH)
Around The WCC
Tough Opening Weekend Awaits WCC Teams
The opening weekend of the 2006 season should prove challenging for conference teams, as tough non-conference matchups await all seven squads. San Francisco and Santa Clara open up with the WCC-Pac-10 Challenge, facing off against Bay Area rivals California and Stanford, while Portland hosts 2005 NCAA runner-up New Mexico at Merlo Field to open up the campaign. LMU travels across the country to take on preseason No. 4 ranked UConn on August 26, and will also battle Central Connecticut State on the road this weekend. San Diego and Gonzaga both begin the 2006 season with a pair of matches at home, with the Zags hosting UNLV and UC Davis, while the Toreros host Rutgers and Albany. Saint Mary's heads to Ohio for the Wright State Tournament this weekend, meeting Butler and the host Raiders to begin the 2006 season.
Veteran Goalkeepers Highlight WCC Lineups
Nearly every team in the WCC will field an experienced goalkeeper in 2006, as six of the seven conference teams return their starting goalkeepers from a year ago. Gonzaga brings back junior Vito Higgins, who made 16 starts in 2005, and LMU returns Robert Flores, who led the conference with 64 saves in WCC contests last season. Portland's Luis Robles, the only senior on the UP squad, has been named as the conference's first team All-WCC goalkeeper in each of the last two seasons, while Brian Mason is back in the Saint Mary's net after leading the league in saves for two straight years. San Diego's Lance Friesz has started 60 consecutive games in between the pipes for the Toreros, and San Francisco's Geremy Uhl enters his senior campaign tied for eighth on the WCC career shutout chart with 17. Santa Clara is the only squad to not bring back an experienced `keeper, as the Broncos lost Kevin Sweeney to graduation following the 2005 season.
WCC In The Preseason Rankings
San Francisco and Santa Clara each claimed spots in the 2006 men's soccer preseason polls. The Dons, selected by league coaches to win the WCC title for the third straight season, checked in at No. 17 in the Soccer America preseason poll and at No. 22 in the College Soccer News listing. Santa Clara was ranked at No. 26 in the College Soccer News poll, and were also ranked in the NSCAA/adidas preseason poll, checking in at No. 20. Both teams finished the 2005 season listed among the top-25 in the national polls after making postseason appearances.Around The WCC
USF's Rob Valentino Tabbed For Preseason All-American Honors
San Francisco defender Rob Valentino was named to the College Soccer News Preseason All-American second team. The junior, who became the first USF player to ever earn WCC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, was an NSCAA/adidas All-Far West Region second team selection in 2005 and led the Dons to their second straight WCC regular season conference title. Valentino ranked second on the team with four goals last year and assisted on two goals, while helping USF defense post a WCC-low 0.81 goals against average.
Three WCC Recruiting Classes Ranked Among Nation's Elite
Three of the WCC's incoming recruiting groups were ranked among the top-40 in the nation according to College Soccer News' annual rankings. San Diego's incoming class was the highest ranking among WCC programs, checking in at No. 11. The Toreros recruits include Ciaran O'Brien, who was named as the Gatorade Player of the Year from the state of Washington, as well as NSCAA Youth All-American Ryan Peterman. Santa Clara's recruiting class was ranked just behind San Diego's at No. 15, and includes United States U-20 National Team veteran Amaechi Igwe. The freshman, who helped the USA to a second place finish at the 2006 Milk Cup, is the brother of former Bronco standout midfielder Kelechi Igwe. The Loyola Marymount recruiting group rounds out the WCC teams in the College Soccer News ranking, checking in at No. 31. The Lions' class is highlighted by from United States U-17 National Team member Adam Sloustcher, who transferred to LMU after playing at North Carolina.
Five WCC Newcomers Named Among The "100 Freshmen To Keep An Eye On"
Five incoming freshmen were tabbed among the "100 Freshmen To Keep An Eye On" by College Soccer News. San Diego and Santa Clara each landed two newcomers on the list, while one San Francisco player was also recognized. Midfielder Ciaran O'Brien joined fellow Torero Ryan Peterman among the top-100 freshmen in the nation, and Santa Clara's Amaechi Igwe and forward Kellen Wantulok were also placed on the listing. San Francisco midfielder Jesse Henderson rounds out the WCC players on the College Soccer News list.
WCC Team Notes
Gonzaga Bulldogs (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- Gonzaga wrapped up the 2005 campaign with a 7-9-4 overall record and a 5-5-2 mark in conference play. Gonzaga's fifth place finish in the WCC was the highest for a GU squad since a third place finish in 2001.
- George Josten finished last season as the WCC's top goal scorer with 12 goals, becoming the first Zag to lead the league in goals since former Gonzaga standout Jeff McAllister scored 19 goals in 1997. Josten enters the 2006 season tied for fifth on the GU career goals scored chart with 17.
- Grant Lundberg tied for the team lead with five assists last season, tying him for the eighth highest single-season assist total in Gonzaga program history.
- Gonzaga opens the 2006 season at home this weekend with games against UNLV (8/25) and UC Davis (8/27) at Martin Field.
Loyola Marymount Lions (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- Loyola Marymount capped the 2005 season with an 8-8-4 overall record and a 6-5-1 mark in conference play. The Lions missed out on NCAA Tournament selection for the first time since 2000, snapping a four-year streak.
- Junior Ybarra had three assists in conference play last season to bring his career assist total in WCC contests to 12, putting him into a tie for fourth on the WCC career list. He can break the WCC's all-time assist record with just three more assists in league contests.
- The Lions bring back their top two scorers from the 2005 season, as midfielder Trini Gomez and forward Bobby Burling return. Gomez, a transfer from UCLA, tallied six goals and four assists as a sophomore, while Burling added five goals and four assists in 2005.
- LMU begins the 2006 campaign with a tough road trip, as the Lions head to the East Coast for matches against No. 4 ranked UConn (8/26) and Central Connecticut State (8/28).
Portland Pilots (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- Portland recorded a 6-11-2 overall record and a 3-8-1 mark in conference play last year, finishing in last place in the WCC standings for the first time since 2000.
- The Pilots return 75 percent of the team's scoring production from a year ago, led by sophomore Alex Elliott. Elliott, who saw action for the Canadian U-20 National Team over the summer, led the Pilots with five goals as a freshman.
- Luis Robles, a two-time first team All-WCC selection, enters his senior season tied for fourth on the UP career saves chart (250) and fifth on the career shutouts list (16). Robles is the only senior on the Portland roster.
- Portland begins the new season with a tough match at home, as New Mexico visits Merlo Field (8/26) after finishing as the runner-up in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
Saint Mary's Gaels (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- Saint Mary's wrapped up the season with a 9-9-1 overall record, tying a program-high in wins, and a 6-6-0 mark in conference play. SMC's fourth place finish in the WCC standings tied the program's highest-ever league finish.
- Adam Cooper takes over the coaching duties at Saint Mary's this season, following former Head Coach Steve Rammel, who led the Gaels for five seasons.
- Carlos Diaz assisted on 11 SMC goals as a freshman last season, breaking the Gaels' single-season assist mark of nine. Diaz paced the conference in assists, and set a conference record with eight assists in league matches last year.
- The Gaels travel to Dayton, OH this weekend for the Wright State Tournament, where they will meet Butler (8/25) and the host Raiders (8/27).
San Diego Toreros (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- San Diego, which narrowly missed out on postseason selection, notched a 9-6-5 overall record with a 4-5-3 mark in conference play in 2005.
- San Diego returns five of its top six goal scorers from a year ago including team scoring leader Dustin Guerrero, who tallied five goals in 2005.
- Ryan Guy led the WCC in shots for the second straight season, notching 57 shot attempts in 2005, while USD took 316 shots as a team to lead the conference. San Diego players have led the WCC in shot attempts in seven of the last 12 seasons.
- Goalkeeper Lance Friesz enters the 2006 season having started 60 straight games in the USD net. Friesz has started every Torero game since 2003.
- USD hosts Rutgers (8/25) and Albany (8/27) at Torero Stadium this weekend.
San Francisco Dons (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- USF won the 2005 WCC title after recording an 11-6-4 overall mark and a 6-3-3 record in conference play. The Dons were selected by WCC coaches as the preseason favorite to win a third straight league title in 2006.
- Rob Valentino was tabbed for preseason All-American honors by College Soccer News after becoming the first Don to earn WCC Defender of the Year honors last season. Valentino scored four goals, and helped the Dons' defense post a league-best 0.81 GAA as a sophomore.
- Goalkeeper Geremy Uhl enters the 2006 season tied for eighth on the WCC career shutouts list with 17 clean sheets. Uhl saw action in all 20 games for the Dons last season, notching a 0.77 GAA and a WCC-best nine shutouts.
- The Dons open the 2006 season with the WCC-Pac-10 Classic, traveling to Cal (8/25) before hosting Stanford (8/27) this weekend.
Santa Clara Broncos (0-0-0 / 0-0-0 WCC)
- Santa Clara made its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance after posting a 13-6-3 overall mark and a 6-4-2 record in conference play. The Broncos advanced to the second round before falling to Cal on penalty kicks.
- Senior Keith DeVey returns to Santa Clara after leading the Broncos with six goals and pitching in with four assists last season.
- Second team All-WCC midfielder Peter Lowry returns for his junior season after ranking third on the team with four goals and four assists in 2005.
- SCU brings in a highly regarded recruiting group that was ranked No. 15 in the nation by College Soccer News.
- The Broncos travel to Stanford (8/25) before hosting Cal (8/27) this weekend.
Games To Watch
#3 New Mexico at Portland - Saturday, August 26 at 7:00 PM
Portland opens up the new season against 2005 NCAA runner-up New Mexico at Merlo Field on Saturday. The Pilots field a young team that includes just one senior, and will look for goals from sophomore Alex Elliott who led the team with five scores in 2005. New Mexico went 18-2-3 last season en route to the NCAA championship game where the Lobos fell to Maryland, 1-0. New Mexico is led by senior All-American defender Andrew Boyens.
#11 California at #20 Santa Clara - Sunday, August 27 at 7:00 PM
Santa Clara hosts Cal in a rematch of last season's NCAA Tournament second round contest, when the Golden Bears and Broncos battled to a 0-0 tie with Cal advancing on penalty kicks, 5-4. California posted a 14-4-3 record last season and earned a No. 7 national seed heading into the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos welcome back senior Keith DeVey, who led the team with six goals in 2005, as well as second team All-WCC midfielder Peter Lowry.