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Men's Soccer Opens Conference Play Against No. 11 San Francisco

Sept. 19, 2006

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This Week In Men's Soccer: The Saint Mary's men's soccer team (2-3-3) will open West Coast Conference play this week against No. 11-ranked San Francisco (5-1-1). The 2006 WCC debut of both teams is scheduled for Friday, September 22 with kickoff slated for 4 p.m. The lone game of the weekend marks the first time the Gaels will play in the newly renovated Saint Mary's Stadium.

Last Week Recap: The Gaels went on the road to participate in the UNLV Rebel Classic and came back with a 0-1-1 record in the two games. SMC opened classic play with another double-overtime appearance, this one coming by the way of a 1-1 draw against host team UNLV. Junior David Blanchard tallied his second goal on the year on a pass from Matthew Fitzgerald.

Against UC Irvine, Saint Mary's fell by the score of 2-1. The two teams were even 1-1 at the half but the Anteaters scored three minutes into the second period to secure the game. Sophomore Corey Heldreth tallied his first career goal off a header from a Carlos Diaz pass.

Scouting USF: The No. 11-ranked Dons enter Moraga with a 5-1-1 record. USF is coming off its first loss of the season to No. 16-ranked UCLA. The Dons fell by the score 2-0 in Los Angeles. USF has beaten the likes of No. 11 Cal, Stanford and Northridge. As a team, the Dons have outscored their opponents 10-4 and have posted four shutouts.

Offensively the Dons are led by former WCC Player of the Year Aaron Chandler. The forward has tallied six points on two goals and two assists. Ardalan Attar has scored twice for four points. Jordan Keyes has handed out two assists to tie for the team lead. In net, USF sports Geremy Uhl. The net-minder showcases a 0.55 goals against average and four shutouts with 24 saves.

Versus USF: The two rivals have met 30 times with the Dons grabbing a 23-5-2 advantage. Both teams won at home against each other last season with the Gaels taking a thrilling 1-0 victory from Moraga.

Men's Soccer Set to Open Saint Mary's Stadium: The Gaels will finally set foot in their true home this Friday when they play the Dons in the newly renovated Saint Mary's Stadium. The improvements began months ago when the field was ripped out and given a new irrigation system. A state-of-the-art drainage system was then installed. In the past, the Moraga rains were often a detriment to the condition of the field. This drainage system will allow teams to play on a top-notch surface rain or shine.

After the new irrigation and drainage were installed it was time for the stadium to be resurfaced. The stadium will now feature Bermuda grass, which is known for its ability to grow rapidly and recover quickly. The Bermuda grass will be able to weather the rough conditions and maintain a high level of playability throughout the year.

WCC Leaders: Sophomore forward Carlos Diaz currently leads the conference in shots with 32, shots per game with four, he is third in points with eight and goals with three and is tied with Matthew Fitzgerald for sixth in assists with two. Junior goalkeeper Brian Mason is fourth in saves with 21 and saves per game with 3.50.

Extra Time: In eight games played this season the Gaels have played in four double-overtime games. The overtime has amounted to over 70 minutes of extra time nearly equaling another game. In the overtime games the Gaels have three ties and one loss. In 2004 the Gaels played seven double-overtime games posting a 0-5-2 record.

First-Year Head Coach Adam Cooper: After serving as an assistant coach for the Saint Mary's men's soccer team for five seasons, Adam Cooper was promoted to head coach as a unanimous choice by the selection committee, players and staff. Cooper officially took over the program on December 29, 2005.

As an assistant at SMC, Cooper was instrumental in the Gaels tying a school-record with nine wins in 2005. Cooper has also stamped his name on some impressive recruiting classes that included 2003 West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Matthew Fitzgerald, 2005 Freshman of the Year Michael Clegg and 2004 Second-Team Freshman All-American Brian Mason.

Cooper's playing experience includes one year of professional soccer with the Orange County Waves in the Division II A-League where he was the seventh pick in the first round of the 2000 A-League draft. Prior to playing professionally, Cooper was a four-year letter-winner at UCLA, helping the Bruins to the NCAA Championship in 1997 and a Final Four appearance in 1999. During that time he earned Academic All-Conference honors in 1996 and 1999 and completed a bachelor's degree in Sociology.

Next Week: The Gaels will continue WCC play when they host two games next week. SMC will host San Diego on Friday, September 29 at 4 p.m. and then play Loyola Marymount on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m. Both games will be played in Saint Mary's Stadium.