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Men's Soccer Opens Friday Night at Home vs. vermont, Hosts Alabama A&M Sunday

Aug. 28, 2007

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The USF men's soccer team, looking for its fourth consecutive NCAA playoff berth and third WCC title in four seasons, opens play 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 31st when they host Vermont at Negoesco Stadium.The Dons also play at home on Sunday when they host Alabama A&M at 2:00 p.m.

HEAD COACH Erik Visser: A former USF defender, whose marking of Angelo DiBernardo in the NCAA title game helped the Dons earn the 1980 crown, Visser joined the USF coaching staff as an assistant to NCAA legend Stephen Negoesco in 1982. While an assistant, he also served as the initial head coach for the women's program in 1985. He took over the men's program in 2001, and has had great success over the past three seasons, earning West Coast Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2004 and 2005. He currently has a 63-45-8 mark in his seventh season.

WCC COACHES PICK DONS SECOND IN POLL: In a preseason poll of league coaches, the Dons were picked to finish second behind defending WCC champ Santa Clara. The Dons received 28 points (and 2 first place votes) to Santa Clara's 35 points (and 5). The poll: 1. Santa Clara 35 (5); 2. USF 28 (2); 3. San Diego 20; 4. (tie) Loyola Marymount & Portland (19), 6. Gonzaga 18; 7. Saint Mary's 8.

DONS LOSE PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE: In a major blow, the USF soccer team lost 2006 WCC Player of the Year Rob Valentino to a knee injury immediately preceding the beginning of practice. Valentino, who was on the 29 player Hermann Trophy Watch List, had successful surgery on his left knee on August 25th and will not return this season.

NEGOESCO SCRIMMAGE A BIG SUCCESS: The USF men's soccer team held its annual Stephen Negoesco Scrimmage last Saturday (Oct. 25) with approximately 250 fans in attendance. Head Coach Erik Visser introduced the team and the team play two 40 minute halves for those in attendance.

STRONG VERMONT TEAM OPENS AT USF: The season opens on August 31st when USF hosts Vermont, a solid team that went 9-7-4 last year and returns nine starters. Coached by Jesse Cormier (29-17-12 in three seasons), the Catamounts finished second in the America East Conference last season.

Vermont returns the team's top six scorers from a year ago, including top scorer Jordan Crasilneck who scored a team best 6 goals last season. Also returning is goalkeeper Roger Scully, who recorded a 0.74 goals against average and eight shutouts last season.

BULLDOGS PLAY AT USF SUNDAY: The Dons will continue their home stand Sunday at 2:00 p.m. when they host Alabama A&M. The Bulldogs, who play Friday at Santa Clara, return all 11 starters from last season when they went 6-8-1 as an independent. The Bulldogs are led by Head Coach Salah Yousif (217-96-19 in 22 seasons).

THIS TIME AT HOME: After playing just one of seven non-conference games at home last season, USF plays six of seven games at friendly Negoesco Stadium this year. It is still a demanding schedule, with powerhouses #11 California, #2 UCLA and #15 New Mexico on the slate. (Preseason NSCAA rankings).

RETURNING SCORING LEADERS: USF graduated its leading returning scorer in Aaron Chandler, but senior Ardalan Attar (5 goals/2 assists in 2006) and sophomore Conor Chinn (4 goals/3 assists) are expected to join with some talented newcomers to pick up the slack.

NEW FACES IN GOAL: USF must also replace a very solid force that graduated last year in goalkeeper Geremy Uhl. The Dons have returning Eric Conner, who backed up Uhl last season, senior transfer (Cal Poly) Jeremy Coupe, freshman Bryce Boyd and junior Jeff Leles to guard the net.

VISSER ON THE TEAM: "Obviously it is very difficult to lose one of the nation's top players right before the season starts. But we have confidence that the other players will step up. Rob will still be around the team and provide leadership as best he can. We have a very young, but a very talented team. We have seventeen freshmen on the squad and we will be a hard working bunch."