Sept. 6, 2007
UP NEXT FOR THE DONS: USF men's soccer hosts ancient Bay Area rival San Jose State in its lone match of the week Sunday, September 9 at Negoesco Stadium. Match time against the Spartans is set for 7:00 PM on the Hilltop, continuing San Francisco's four-match home stand. The Dons (1-1-0) opened the season with a home split, falling to Vermont 1-0 Friday night, before bouncing back for a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory against Alabama A&M. USF got a pair of goals from freshman forward Jeff Penna, including the game-winner at the 100:29 mark, in the first overtime period. Sophomore forward Conor Chinn also recorded his first goal of the season.
A LOOK AT SAN JOSE STATE: San Jose State enters the weekend with a 2-0-0 record after winning the Davidson adidas Classic with a 2-1 victory against Charlotte in the opener and a 3-2 double overtime victory against the tournament host in the finale. The Dons have won the last three meetings against the Spartans with their last setback coming in a 3-0 shutout at San Jose State in 2003. Last season, USF forged a 2-0 shutout at San Jose State (9/3/06) as the Dons capitalized on an SJSU own goal and a scoring strike by Conor Chinn for USF.
HOME SWEET HOME FOR THE DONS THIS YEAR: 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 No. 11 California, No. 2 UCLA and No. 15 New Mexico on the slate. (Preseason NSCAA rankings). Since FieldTurf was installed at Negoesco Stadium for the 2003 season, USF has posted a 25-10-5 record on their home pitch, including a sparkling 6-2-0 record in 2006 and a 7-1-1 mark in 2004. The Dons are 134-67-18 in their 23rd season at Negoesco Stadium, including a 3-3 slate in NCAA Tournament contests.
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.
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.
SAN JOSE STATE VS. USF LIVE VIDEO & AUDIO ON USFDONS.COM: USF's Sunday night match against San Jose State will be available on live streaming audio and video on USFDons.com, courtesy of Yahoo Broadcast. Simply log on to USFDons.com, click on watch under the events tab on the main page and then click on the San Jose State game on the Yahoo schedule. The match will also be available via CSTV's GameTracker.
USF HEAD COACH Erik Visser: Now in his seventh successful year as head coach at his alma mater, Erik Visser has propelled USF to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and is committed to taking the Green and Gold into the postseason once again in 2007. The Dons posted a 12-7-1 overall record during the 2006 season, while playing a schedule rated in the top-10 nationally. After guiding San Francisco to consecutive West Coast Conference titles (2004-05), the Dons secured a runner-up finish in 2006 in an ever-improving league. From 2004-06, USF recorded a 37-17-6 record and owns the most league victories (22) during the span. A two-time WCC Coach of the Year (2004-05), Visser owns deep ties to the soccer program at the University of San Francisco. A defender on two USF NCAA Championship teams (1978, 1980), Visser spent 19 seasons as an assistant coach under soccer legend Steve Negoesco before taking the reigns as head coach for the 2001 campaign. Along the way, Visser also started the women's soccer program on the Hilltop in 1985 and served as head coach for six years. Visser is active in the USA National Team program and served as the top assistant for the U-20 team that finished 13th in the 2001 Youth World Cup in Argentina. Visser recorded his 50th career victory at Portland (11/10/05) and owns an overall mark of 64-46-8. Former Dons standout Josh McKay is in his fifth season as top assistant coach and second as an associate head coach, while Tyler Gottschalk is in his fourth campaign as an assistant coach. Former UCLA All-American goalkeeper Eric Reed enters his first season as the Dons keepers coach.
PLENTY OF BONUS SOCCER: USF posted its first overtime win of the season in the second match of 2007 with a 3-2 decision against Alabama A&M (9/2), continuing a trend of extra session success. San Francisco played four matches requiring an additional period in 2006 and posted a 2-1-1 overall record and went 1-1-1 in matches needing both overtime sessions. This was in sharp contrast to the 2005 season when the Dons played a remarkable seven matches that reached double overtime and registered a 2-1-4 overall record, 1-1-3 during West Coast Conference play. Since the start of the 2004 season, USF owns a 6-4-6 slate during "bonus soccer" matches.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: With just two matches in the books for the 2007 season, USF has already played two matches decided by one goal. San Francisco played a remarkable 13 matches in 2006 decided by one goal, posting an 8-5 record in those contests. This shows the strength of the Dons defense, who as a unit allowed a maximum of two goals only five times last year. Dating back to October of the 2003 campaign, USF owns a 28-16 ledger in one goal matches, including a 5-4-0 during the 2005 campaign.
DONS SOCCER LIVE ON FOX: USF's West Coast Conference match at ancient Bay Area rival Santa Clara Friday, October 12th will be carried live on the Fox Soccer Channel as part of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Match of the Week. It is one of nine men's games and eight women's games to be shown as part of the series. The game will air live at 5:00 PM (PT)."We are very proud to be a part of this national television package," said Dons' head coach Erik Visser. "It shows that we have established ourselves among the top programs in the country. Our players have earned this by the success that we have had over the past three seasons. Of course, the USF-Santa Clara rivalry has a great history, and we are excited that soccer fans across the country will have a chance to see it live."
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. Chinn has already picked up where he left off as a freshman, scoring his fifth career goal against Alabama A&M (9/2) to go along with an assist.
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. Coupe collected his inaugural Green and Gold win against Alabama A&M (9/2) last Sunday, collecting seven saves.
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."