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No. 12 USF Hosts No. 5 UCLA Thursday; New Mexico Saturday in 2006 NCAA Tournament Rematch

Sept. 18, 2007

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UP NEXT FOR THE DONS: USF men's soccer tackles a pair of elite teams this weekend when it hosts No. 5 UCLA Thursday and New Mexico Saturday in its final non-conference matches of the 2007 season. Fresh off winning the 2007 WCC/Pac-10 Classic after upsetting No. 11 Cal 2-1 last Friday and seizing a 2-1 double overtime thriller at Stanford Sunday, the Dons earned national recognition, entering the Soccer America Poll for the first time, debuting at No. 12. San Francisco renews its long rivalry with the Bruins who lead the all-time series at 22-18-5, including a 2-0 decision in Westwood last season. Saturday features a rematch of the 2006 NCAA Tournament First Round contest, won 1-0 by the Lobos in the closing seconds of regulation.

SAN FRANCISCO MAKES TOP-25 POLL DEBUT: After posting a 2-0 week with a 2-1 upset home win against No. 11 Cal and a 2-1 double overtime road victory at Stanford, USF men's soccer enters the Soccer America Top-25 Poll at No. 12. The Dons (4-1-0) have won four straight matches and have scored at least two goals per match during the streak. San Francisco did not crack the 2007 preseason top-30 in any of the major polls. The Dons earned a top ranking of No. 8 in 2006 - its highest appearance since the 1994 campaign - after winning the Penn State Classic with wins against the Nittany Lions and a deadlock against Ohio State. USF did not crack the NSCAA Top-25 poll, but did move up to No. 5 in the Far West Regional Rankings.

CONOR CHIN NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore forward Conor Chinn (San Diego) scored three goals in two matches en route to earning West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors. Chinn turned in the first multi-goal match of his career in USF's upset 2-1 victory against No. 11 Cal (9/14) and tallied his fourth goal in five matches Sunday at Stanford (9/16). A 2006 West Coast Conference Freshman Team selection, Chinn has already equaled his first year goals tally (4) and is the third Don to post a multi-goal match this season. Chinn is the second Don to earn WCC Player of the Week honors this season as DeGeer shared weekly honors September 10.

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. So far, the Dons have posted a sparkling 3-1-0 record at home after recording a satisfying 2-1 victory against No. 11 Cal (9/14). The Dons now prepare for the final week of non-conference action when they host No. 5 UCLA Thursday and New Mexico Saturday. Since FieldTurf was installed at Negoesco Stadium for the 2003 season, USF has posted a 27-10-5 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 136-67-18 in their 23rd season at Negoesco Stadium, including a 3-3 slate in NCAA Tournament contests.

NO. 5 UCLA & NEW MEXICO MATCHES LIVE ON USFDONS.COM: USF's home matches this week against No. 5 UCLA and New Mexico 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 Cal 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 67-45-8. 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 second overtime win of the season with a 2-1 double overtime decision at Stanford (9/16), 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 7-4-6 slate during "bonus soccer" matches.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: As the non-conference schedule draws to a close for the 2007 season, every USF so far has been decided by one goal and the Dons own a 4-1-0 record in these contests. 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 31-16 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 eighth career goal at Stanford (9/2).

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 picked up his inaugural Green and Gold win against Alabama A&M (9/2) last Sunday, collecting seven saves, while Conner earned his first victory against San Jose State (9/9).

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 17 freshmen on the squad and we will be a hard working bunch."

GAME DAY GREEN: The University of San Francisco Athletic Department in conjunction with the USF Bookstore and the USF Residence Life Office encourages all Dons supporters to wear "Game Day Green". To encourage fans to don "Game Day Green", the USF Bookstore will offer a 20 percent discount for all merchandise featuring green in it Thursday-Friday, September 20-21. This offer is only valid at the USF Bookstore's main location in the lower level of Phelan Hall. The USF Residence Life Office also is in full support of the initiative and staff members will wear "Game Day Green" on game days throughout the Fall Season.

A LOOK AT UCLA: The Bruins enter the week with a 2-2-1 overall record and posted their first two wins of the year in impressive fashion. UCLA dispatched Ohio State 3-1 Friday, before destroying visiting Penn State 4-1 in Westwood. Maxwell Griffin leads the Bruins in scoring with four goals on the season, while Kyle Nakazawa has a team-high four assists on the year. Brian Perk has played every minute between the pipes for UCLA this season and owns a 0.95 GAA with 23 saves in 473 minutes of action. The Bruins were the 2006 NCAA National Runner-up.

A LOOK AT NEW MEXICO: The Lobos enter the fourth week of their season with a 3-3-0 mark after recording a home split last week. New Mexico dropped a 1-0 decision to No. 24 Washington Friday before bouncing back for a 2-1 victory against No. 9 UC Santa Barbara, the defending NCAA Champions. Diego Barrera leads the way for the Lobos with six points and shares the team goals lead with Chris Wright at two apiece. Mike Graczyk has played every minute in goal for New Mexico, posting a 1.17 GAA with 14 saves on the year.

USF MULTI-GOAL MATCHES: Three USF players have turned in multi-goal matches in the first five contests in the 2007 season. Freshman forward Jeff Penna came off the bench to score twice against Alabama A&M (9/2), including the game-winner in overtime. Senior defender Daniel DeGeer tallied the first two goals of his Green and Gold career with a pair of brilliant free kick scores against San Jose State (9/9). Not to be outdone, sophomore forward Conor Chinn registered two goals in the Dons 2-1 victory against No. 11 Cal (9/14). Last season senior forward Aaron Chandler was the only Don to record a multi-goal match, accomplishing the feat in a 2-0 West Coast Conference victory against San Diego (11/3/06).

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.