Aug. 24, 2006
BULLDOGS OPEN SEASON: Gonzaga University will open the 2006 season at home this weekend when NLV visits Friday and UC Davis comes to town Sunday, both matches beginning at 1 p.m. This marks the first time since 2002 the Bulldogs will have opened the season at home, Gonzaga playing three straight at Martin Field to kick off the 2002 campaign. (NOTE: Sunday's match with UC Davis was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. but was moved to 1 p.m. to accommodate UC Davis' flight schedule home).
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: This weekend's matches will be the only opportunity fans will have to see Gonzaga University's men's soccer team at home until Oct. 6. The Bulldogs are gone the entire month of September, playing in tournaments in Annapolis, Md., and Corvallis, Ore., and opening West Coast Conference play with three straight road matches to end the month. The Bulldogs face Santa Clara University at home on Oct. 6. Gonzaga is home for 6-of-8 matches in October.
JOSTEN RETURNS TO BOLSTER OFFENSE: Junior forward George Josten looks to have another solid season as the offensive catalyst for Gonzaga University. The 2005 All-WCC first-team pick and a viable candidate for Player of the Year honors this season in the WCC paced the conference in scoring with 29 points and in goals with 12 a year ago. He became just the second Bulldog to pace the WCC in scoring, 1997 WCC Player of the Year Jeff McAllister the other. His 12 goals tied him for fifth and his 29 points rank sixth on the Gonzaga single-season lists. His 17 career goals rank tied for fifth and his 40 career points are seventh all-time. In addition to his All-WCC accolades, the native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, also garnered National Soccer Coaches association of America/adidas Far West All-Regional third team honors and 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America third team recognition with this 3.89 GPA in civil engineering.
SAWYER BOOSTS DEFENSE: Senior midfielder/defender Ben Sawyer was a second-team All-WCC pick last year. He was a mainstay on the Gonzaga defense that was hit hard by injuries to five midfielders through the early part of fall camp and the season. The product of Spokane's Mead High helped Gonzaga record a 1.52 goals-against-average, the lowest since 2001 when the Bulldogs held opponents to 0.85 goals/match.
HIGGINS BACK IN GOAL: Junior Vito Higgins returns as the last line of defense. After sitting out 2004 with a viral condition and knee injury, he came back in 2005 with a 1.39 GAA overall, but his 1.02 GAA in WCC play ranked third in conference matches only. He posted a pair of shutouts and in three of his seven losses the Bulldogs failed to score.
MILLER SIDELINED: Gonzaga University's offense suffered a major blow during the summer when senior forward Luke Miller, who would have given the Bulldogs a ninth returning starter this season, suffered a hip injury that required surgery, sidelining him for the season. He had three goals and three assists last year.
BACK IN ACTION: Five veterans return to the pitch this season after missing all or part of 2005 with injuries. Midfielder/defender John Palladino; midfielders John Reha and Steve Owens, and defender Daniel Scott missed all of last season, while Scott Campbell was sidelined five matches into the '05 campaign.
AVOIDING SOPHOMORE JINX: Midfielders Chris Hoyd and Scott Meslin, a pair of WCC All-Freshman selections in 2005, will be hoping the sophomore jinx doesn't hit them. Meslin started 14-of-16 appearances a year ago, while Hoyd appeared in 10 matches off the bench. Other midfielders who saw plenty of action as freshmen were Scott Meslin, who returned last season after an '04 knee injury sidelined him, Bryan Mullaney, Nick Heinrichs and Conor Baranski.
BULLDOGS VS. UNLV: Gonzaga University and UNLV will be meeting for the sixth time in program history on Friday and for the first time since 2003, Gonzaga holding a 3-1-1 lead in the series. The Bulldogs scored twice in the final three minutes to post a 3-2 victory over the Rebels in the UNLV Tournament in 2003 to claim second in the tourney with a 1-0-1 record. Gonzaga dropped a 4-3 decision in the same tournament in 1999. Gonzaga won the Coors Light Invitational hosted by UNLV in 1997, taking a 2-1 win over the hosts in the first match, and went 2-0-0 in 1996 that included a 3-0 shutout of the Rebels. The tie came in the inaugural meeting in 1982, a 2-2 deadlock at the BYU Invitational in Provo, Utah.
BULLDOGS VS. AGGIES: Gonzaga University and UC Davis will have their inaugural meeting this Sunday. The Aggies are in their fourth and final year of it reclassification period to NCAA Division I status. UC Davis went 7-10-2 last season.
THE THORARINSSON TALE OF THE TAPE: Gonzaga University head coach Einar Thorarinsson is 92-87-14 entering his 12th season with the Bulldogs. His overall record is 215-138-27 that includes nine seasons across town at Whitworth College. After going 3-10-2 in his first season of 1995, the Bulldogs have had winning seasons in six of the last 10 seasons under Thorarinsson. His teams led the West Coast Conference in wins with a 14-4-0 record in 1997 and 12-4-2 mark in 1998, capturing WCC co-championships in each of those seasons. The Bulldogs were 9-5-2 in 2001, making their inaugural College Cup appearance. In 2005 Gonzaga went to the final match of the season with a chance to win the WCC title. He was accorded his third WCC Coach of the Year honor in 2005 to go with similar honors won in 1996-97 as he was the first coach in Gonzaga history to receive back-to-back WCC Coach of the Year accolades.