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Men's Soccer Continues Conference Play With Two Games

Sept. 25, 2006

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The Saint Mary's men's soccer team (3-3-3, 1-0 WCC) will continue its homestand against No. 28 San Diego (7-1-0, 2-0 WCC) and Loyola Marymount (5-4-0, 1-1-0 WCC). The Gaels will kickoff the weekend against the Toreros on Friday, September 29 at 4 p.m. followed by a Sunday matinee against the Lions at 2 p.m. Both games will be played in Saint Mary's Stadium.

Last Week Recap: The Gaels opened West Coast Conference play in impressive fashion, downing the No.11-ranked USF Dons 1-0 Friday afternoon from Saint Mary's Stadium. Senior defender Alex Christlieb netted the game-winner in the 20th minute and helped the SMC defense shut out USF for only the second time this season.

Christlieb Pours in the Accolades: Senior defender Alex Christlieb was rewarded handsomely for his effort against No. 11-ranked San Francisco. The senior captain was named the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Week and he was selected to the College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer Teams of the Week.

Scouting USD: The No. 28-ranked Toreros enter Moraga with a 7-1-1 overall record and a 2-0 conference ledger. USD is coming off a 4-0 victory against Gonzaga and a 1-0 win over Portland to open WCC play. USD has outscored its opposition 29-3 including an 11-0 blowout against Rider. The lone loss for the Toreros came in their lone road match against Brown where they fell 2-1.

Offensively USD has three players with 10 or more points. Ciaran O'Brien leads the team with 12 points on four goals and four assists. Adam Mariani has eleven points on four goals and three assists while Ryan Guy has 10 points on four goals and two assists. In net, Lance Friesz leads the team with 11 saves and three shut outs in 510 minutes. Kelin Briones has not allowed a goal in 119 minutes and has tallied one shut out and made one save.

Versus USD: The two WCC teams have met 26 times with the Toreros grabbing an 18-5-3 advantage. The two teams split last years' series with each team taking home a win on the road.

Scouting LMU: The Lions will play the No. 15-ranked Santa Clara Broncos before making the short trek north to Moraga. The Lions sport a 5-4-0 overall record and a 1-1-0 conference mark. The Lions defeated Gonzaga 1-0 on their WCC opener but fell to Portland 1-0 on Sunday. LMU began its season with an impressive 1-0 at #2 UConn. LMU has outscored its opponents 9-8 and has tallied two shut outs.

Offensively the Lions are led by David Niemeyer's seven points on three goals and one goal. Bobby Burling and Brad Stisser have both tallied two goals a piece. In between the pipes, Robert Flores has recorded two shut outs and allowed six goals for a 0.84 goals against average in 640 minutes. Miguel Benitez has appeared in two games and allowed two goals.

Versus LMU: The two WCC teams have met 22 times with the Gaels holding a 13-8-1 advantage. The two teams split last years' series with each team taking home a win on their own field.

Another Shut Out for Mason: The Saint Mary's all-time leader in shut outs added another to his name this past weekend with a blanking of No. 11 San Francisco. Mason now has 12 shut outs to his name and is separating from runner-up Rob McDonald (92-95) who has 10.

WCC Leaders: Sophomore forward Carlos Diaz currently leads the conference in shots with 34, shots per game with 3.78, he is seventh in points with eight and sixth in goals with three. Junior goalkeeper Brian Mason is fourth in saves with 23 and fourth in saves per game with 3.29.

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 take to the road for their first conference trip away from Moraga. SMC will head to the Pacific Northwest to face Portland on Friday, October 6 at 7 p.m. and Gonzaga on Sunday, October 8 at 1 p.m.