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USF Men's Soccer Opens WCC Play Hosting Portland and No. 24 Gonzaga

Oct. 2, 2007

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UP NEXT FOR THE DONS: Fresh off intense training during its bye week, USF men's soccer opens the 2007 West Coast Conference season at home this weekend when it hosts the Pacific Northwest schools at Negoesco Stadium. The Dons open Friday, October 5 against Portland before tackling their third top-25 opponent of the season in a Sunday matinee when No. 24 Gonzaga visits the Hilltop. San Francisco looks to rebound after a couple tough home shutout losses to No. 5 UCLA (1-0) and No. 28 New Mexico (2-0). USF has split the last four contests against the Pilots, taking a thrilling 3-2 decision at home last season, avenging a 2-1 loss in the Rose City. In 2005, both teams posted a road victory in the series Portland leads 11-9-2. Since 2002, the Dons own a 6-1-1 record against the Bulldogs. Last season each team posted a 2-1 home victory.

QUOTING Erik Visser: "We showed a great deal of inconsistency during the non-conference schedule. We had some strong performances but we were very uneven across the board. In order for us to enjoy a successful West Coast Conference campaign, we must play with more consistency. We must stay focused and compete for 90 minutes because every WCC match is a battle."

USF IN THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE DOUBLE ROUND ROBIN: One of the NCAA's most storied programs, San Francisco has posted three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and five straight upper echelon West Coast Conference finishes with back-to-back titles (2004-05) and a runner-up showing (2006). Since the WCC adopted the double round-robin format for the 2004 campaign, USF owns a 22-11-3 league ledger.

USF IN WEST COAST CONFERENCE OPENERS: San Francisco opens West Coast Conference play Friday night against Portland, meeting the Pilots in the league opener for the first time since 1992 - a 2-0 decision at Merlo Field. The Dons own an overall record of 11-8 in league lid-lifters dating to the start of round robin conference play in 1988 with a 9-3 mark at Negoesco Stadium. USF has struggled out of the WCC gate since 2000, posting a 2-5 record and have not won a conference debut since a 4-0 win against Saint Mary's in 2002.

HOME SWEET HOME FOR THE DONS THIS YEAR: After playing just one of seven non-conference games at home last season, USF played six of seven games at friendly Negoesco Stadium this year. After a pair of tough losses to No. 5 UCLA and No. 28 New Mexico, the Dons posted a sparkling 3-3-0 record at home, 4-3-0 overall during non-conference action this season. Since FieldTurf was installed at Negoesco Stadium for the 2003 season, USF has posted a 27-12-5 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 136-69-18 in their 23rd season at Negoesco Stadium, including a 3-3 slate in NCAA Tournament contests.

PORTLAND AND NO. 24 GONZAGA MATCHES LIVE ON USFDONS.COM: USF's West Coast Conference home matches this week against Portland and No. 24 Gonzaga 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 appropriate 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 67-47-8. 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: With the conclusion of the non-conference schedule USF has been involved in extremely close matches with all but one contest decided by one goal and the Dons own a 4-2-0 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 31-17 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).

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". 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 PORTLAND: The Pilots enter the week with a 3-3-1 overall record and own a modest two match unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win against Denver (9/23) and a 1-1 deadlock against No. 21 Gonzaga in their 2007 West Coast Conference opener. Junior forward Alex Elliott leads Portland and the WCC in scoring with four goals and 11 points on the season, while freshman forward Ryan Luke has a pair of scoring strikes on the year. Freshman goalkeeper Austin Guerrero has played every minute between the pipes for UP this season and owns a 1.23 GAA with 28 saves in 658:37 minutes of action.

A LOOK AT GONZAGA: The Bulldogs enter their second week of West Coast Conference play with a 5-2-1 mark and carry a four match unbeaten streak into the Bay Area. Gonzaga posted a 1-1 deadlock at Portland in its 2007 West Coast Conference opener. Senior forward and Hermann Award candidate George Josten leads the way for the Zags with three goals and nine points. Senior goalkeeper Vito Higgins has played every minute in goal for Gonzaga, posting a 0.71 GAA with 21 saves and two shutouts on the year.

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.

USF MULTI-GOAL MATCHES: Three USF players have turned in multi-goal matches in the first seven 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).

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.