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Men's Soccer Opens Season at Wright State Adidas Cup

Aug. 21, 2006

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This Week in Men's Soccer: The Saint Mary's men's soccer team will officially get its 2006 soccer season underway when it heads to Dayton, OH for the Wright State adidas cup. The Gaels will kickoff their year with an opening round game against the Butler Bulldogs on Friday, August 25 at 5 p.m. EST. SMC will then play host Wright State on Sunday, August 27 at 11 a.m. EST. Both games will be played at Alumni Field on the Wright State campus.

Scouting the Bulldogs: Butler is coming off a 9-10 overall finish and a 2-5 Horizon League record. Butler began the 2005 season with all nine wins in its first 11 games, including a 1-0 upset over No. 22-ranked Ohio State, but dropped its final eight decisions to fall under the .500 mark. The Bulldogs, who had allowed just four goals in the first 11 matches of the season, wound up surrendering 19 goals in the final eight contests.

Eduardo Garcia led Butler in offense despite starting only 11 games. Garcia finished with a team-high 10 points on a team-best four goals and a pair of assists. John DeVae added three goals and two assists, while earning second team all-league recognition. Butler's defense posted eight shutouts in the first 11 contests, and goalkeeper Frank Peabody was ranked No. 1 in the nation in goals against average and save percentage at the midway point of the season. Before missing the final eight games with an injury, Peabody finished the year with six shutouts, 0.73 goals against average and 47 saves.

Versus Butler: Friday's meeting will mark the first game between the two programs.

Scouting the Raiders: Wright State finished its 2005 campaign with an even 10-10 overall record and a 4-3 Horizon League mark. The Raiders closed out their season with five wins in their final seven games and a Horizon League Semifinals appearance. This season the Raiders are projected to finish fifth in the league as voted upon by the conference coaches.

The Raiders return senior midfielder Tony Labudovski, who tallied nine goals and two assists and finished fifth in the league in points. Labudovski will be joined by sophomore Josh Grossman who notched five goals and three helpers as a freshman. In between the pipes, senior Jason Leuthold returns after starting four matches in goal with a 3-1 record. Leuthold had 12 saves on the season in 374 minutes played with a 1.92 goals against average. JUCO transfer Tebias Mason may also find time in net. The 6-7 transfer from Santa Rosa JC posted 13 shutouts last season and garnered NSCAA JUCO First Team All-American honors.

Versus Wright State: Sunday's meeting will mark the first game between the two programs.

Season Preview: Up front, the Gaels boast All-WCC First-Team selection Carlos Diaz and All-Region Third-Team selection Matthew Fitzgerald. In 2005, the duo combined to place their name on 20 of the Gaels' 28 goals. As a freshman, Diaz led the WCC with 11 assists and was sixth in points with 15 in 17 appearances. Fitzgerald handed out six assists which ranked third in the conference and finished the season with eight points. Also finding time up front will be sophomore Guillermo Trujillo and junior Jason Stanwood. As a true freshman, Trujillo found time in 13 games and tallied a goal. Stanwood appeared in three games and tallied a shot. Freshmen Ryan Corriveau, Luke Johnson and Mark Araujo bring impressive credentials to Moraga and look to find time on the pitch.

The Gaels return a technical, creative group at the midfield that will be able to get forward and attack. Senior Corey Watts returns after starting 16 games in 2005 and is going to be looked upon to supply leadership and anchor a relatively young squad at mid. Along with Watts, newcomers Bryan VanDoorninck and Patrick Johns will find time with the possibility of Trujillo falling back. Juniors David Blanchard and Erik Robert will also play a significant role at the midfield. Blanchard started 13 games and tallied three points on a goal and an assist while Robert will look to build on his impressive spring.

The Gaels will have their hands full replacing graduated seniors Michael Johnson and Daniel Smith. Despite the losses, SMC showcases speed, size and experience in the back for a new look unit in 2006. Senior Anthony Butler makes the drop from forward and midfield for his first year on defense. Butler will be looked upon to keep the team speed and get forward on the wings. All-WCC Honorable Mention selection Alex Christlieb returns after recording 12 points on five goals and two assists in 17 starts in the back. Senior Desmond Brooks will anchor the middle of the defense, after starting 13 games in 2005. Transfers Brett Gallinger and newcomer Dylan Leslie will vie for time. Redshirt freshman Ryan Klasila and sophomore Corey Heldreth will be in the mix as well.

All-WCC Honorable Mention selection Brian Mason returns for his third season between the pipes for SMC. Mason led the WCC with 94 saves and 4.95 saves per game in 2005. His six shutouts rank him in a tie with Chris Beatty (1997) for the most shutouts in a single season and his nine wins are the most tallied in a single season by an SMC net-minder. In addition to the single-season record, Mason moved into sole possession of the career record with 11 shutouts overall and also holds onto the top mark in the career annals in goals against average with a 1.27 mark. With a solid 2006, Mason is on track to break nearly every Saint Mary's goalkeeping career record. Behind Mason is junior David Lenser and newcomer Keenan Flynn.

First-Year Head Coach Adam Cooper: After serving as an assistant coach for the Saint Mary's men's soccer team for five seasons, Adam Cooper was promoted to head coach as a unanimous choice by the selection committee, players and staff. Cooper officially took over the program on December 29, 2005.

As an assistant at SMC, Cooper was instrumental in the Gaels tying a school-record with nine wins in 2005. Cooper has also stamped his name on some impressive recruiting classes that included 2003 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Matthew Fitzgerald, 2005 Freshman of the Year Michael Clegg and 2004 Second-Team Freshman All-American Brian Mason.

Cooper's playing experience includes one year of professional soccer with the Orange County Waves in the Division II A-League where he was the seventh pick in the first round of the 2000 A-League draft. Prior to playing professionally, Cooper was a four-year letter-winner at UCLA, helping the Bruins to the NCAA Championship in 1997 and a Final Four appearance in 1999. During that time he earned Academic All-Conference honors in 1996 and 1999 and completed a bachelor's degree in Sociology.

Next Week: Saint Mary's will continue non-conference play with two games next week. The Gaels play one more on the road in San Jose State on Thursday, August 31 before returning home on Saturday, September 2 to face Cal Poly. The Gaels will play the Spartans at 7 p.m. and the Mustangs at 2 p.m.