Sept. 7, 2006
Ninth ranked USF (3-0) after sweeping by Bay Area rivals Cal, Stanford and San Jose State with shutout wins, concludes preconference play with four consecutive road games against four teams that were nationally ranked in the preseason (Penn State, Ohio State, CS Northridge and UCLA). After visiting St. Mary's on September 22, USF will host another nationally ranked team, Santa Clara in USF's league home opener on September 24th.
USF will open play at the tournament Friday at 4:30 Pacific against host Penn State (1-3-0) following the Ohio State-Bouston University matchup. On SUnday USF will face Ohio State (1-2-1) at 9:00 AM Pacific.
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 two seasons, earning West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Honors in 2004 and 2005. He currently has a 54-39-8 mark in his sixth season. Visser coached his 100th game at USF in the home opener this year against Stanford.
DEFENSE LEADING THE WAY: USF has not allowed a goal this season with solid defensive play. The Dons have allowed a total of 15 shots in the first three games, just seven on goal.
The USF defense includes 2005 WCC Defender of the Year Rob Valentino, senior Kevin Long, sophomore Kyle Schlumpf and newcomer Chris Rodd. Rodd, a junior from the Bay Area, played his first two years at William and Mary before transferring to USF last season. In goal, USF starts senior Geremy Uhl, who has 21 career shutouts and had the lowest league goals against average in the West Coast Conference over the past two seasons.
UHL WHITEWASHES: With the shutout of San Jose State on Sunday night, Geremy Uhl has now shutout out every team he has faced in the Bay Area (Cal, Stanford, Santa Clara, St. Mary's, San Jose State) over his career. He has also already shut out every West Coast Conference squad at least once (Portland, Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, San Diego and Loyola Marymount.) He has 21 career shutouts and is nearing the record for most shutouts in WCC play held by Portland's Casey Keller (13).
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: USF will be playing seven of its first eight contests on the road this season, where they are currently 2-0. In both road wins, at #11 California and at San Jose State, USF opened the scoring with an "own goal."
NEWCOMERS: Although they have won two consecutive WCC titles, the Dons have added a lot of new blood this season. Included is defender Chris Rodd, who has been a key member of the defense. Also joining the team this year and having played significant minutes is junior college All-American forward Ardalan Attar (who scored against Stanford), high school All-American Jesse Henderson, Seattle University transfer Conor Chinn (who scored at San Jose State) and Tyler Ruthven, who has seen time at midfield and defender.
SCORING LEADERS: Adam Bergman leads the team in scoring with one goal and one assist. His driving pass also led to the "own goal" in 1-0 victory over California.
ABOUT PENN STATE: The "Nittany Lions" entered the season ranked #13, but have a 1-3-0 mark entering the matchup with USF. They have had a very tough schedule that saw them open with a 2-0 loss to Furman. Following that they defeated tough Hartwick 2-1 and dropped decisions to #11 Wake Forest (2-0) and at #1 North Carolina (1-0). They have been outscored 6-2 on the season. Penn State recorded a 13-7-2 mark last year. USF has a 2-0-1 mark against Penn State, bit have not met since 1985.
ABOUT OHIO STATE: Ohio State has played the same schedule as Penn State and have a 1-2-1 mark. They will face Boston University in their first game in State College. They opened with a 0-0 tie with Hartwick, defeated Furman 2-0 and then lost 1-0 to #1 North Carolina and 3-2 vs. Wake Forest in overtime. They have allowed four goals and scored four. Xavier Balc has scored two goal for them, while goalkeeper Casey Latchem has two shutouts in four games.
VISSER ON THE MATCHUPS: "Obviously, it is very difficult to play top teams outside of your region. Both of these teams were preseason top-25 squads and they each have had four very difficult games. It is a good chance, with these four games coming up before league, to see where we are, what are the strengths and what we need to work on. Our team is looking forward to this big challenge."