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Men's Soccer Opens WCC Play Against Gonzaga and Portland This Week

Oct. 4, 2007

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This Week In Men's Soccer:
The Saint Mary's men's soccer team (4-2-0) will return home for its West Coast Conference opener this week. The Gaels will host the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Friday and the Portland Pilots on Sunday. SMC will face the Bulldogs on Friday, October 5 at 4 p.m. from Saint Mary's Stadium. The Gaels will then host the Portland Pilots on Sunday, October 7 with kick-off scheduled for 2 p.m. at Saint Mary's Stadium.

Last Week Recap:
Saint Mary's won both games two weekend's ago, posting wins over Sacramento State and San Jose State. On the road, the Gaels posted a 1-0 win over the Hornets, as David Blanchard scored the game-winning goal in the 76th minute. Saint Mary's extended its win streak to three games with a 2-1 win over San Jose State on Sunday. Against the Hornets, Bryan Vandoornick netted his second goal of the season, and Blanchard scored his third of the year, his second game-winner of the weekend.

Who's Hot:
Senior midfielder David Blanchard put together quite the weekend, recording two game-winners in victories over Sacramento State (1-0) and San Jose State (2-1). It was the head of Blanchard that proved to be the difference on both goals. On a free kick taken by sophomore Dylan Leslie, Blanchard used the back of his head to beat CSSU goalkeeper Nick Garguilo in the 76th minute. Against SJSU, Blanchard struck again on a set play, this time timing a strike from Erik Robert.The senior now leads the Gaels with a team-leading six points on three goals. The three goals match the season-high he set in 2006.

Scouting Gonzaga:
The Gonzaga Bulldogs enter this week with a 5-2-1 overall record and a 0-0-1 start to West Coast Conference play. Gonzaga was ranked 21st in the country, before playing Portland to a 1-1 tie on Sunday. Gonzaga has two wins over ranked opponents, defeating No. 1 UC Santa Barbara (1-0) and No. 15 Washington (2-1) earlier this season. GU has outscored its opponents 9-6 while outshooting the opposition 98-89.

Gonzaga is led by George Josten, who has nine points in eight games. Josten, who is third in the WCC in points, has three goals and three assists this season. Ben Funkhouser is second on the team with two goals, and fourth other players have scored one goal each. Vito Higgins has played all 740 minutes in goal, and has a 0.73 goals against average after allowing just six shots to get past him. Higgins has two shutouts and has made 29 saves.

Versus The Bulldogs:
Friday will mark the 18th meeting in men's soccer between SMC and Gonzaga. The Bulldogs hold a 9-7-1 advantage in the series after winning the last three games. Last season, Gonzaga defeated SMC 3-0 in Moraga and 4-0 in Spokane.

Scouting Portland:
The Pilots are currently 3-3-1 on the season. They are coming off of a 0-0-1 weekend following a 1-1 draw with Gonzaga to open conference play. Portland will battle Santa Clara on Friday before Sunday's match up against the Gaels. Portland has a 1-2-2 record in its last five games. The Pilots have outscored their opponents 12-10, while outshooting them 105-89. Portland has wins over New Hampshire, Sacramento State, and Denver. Against ranked opponents, Portland has a 0-2-1 record.

Individually, Portland is led by Alex Elliott, who has a team-highs with 11 points, four goals, and three assists. Elliott is first in the WCC in points, second in goals, and fourth in assists. Austin Guerrero has played all 768 minutes in goal and has allowed 10 goals for a 1.17 goals against average. He has 32 saves and two shutouts this season.

Versus The Pilots:
Sunday will mark game 25 in the series between SMC and Portland. The Pilots have controlled the series, winning 18 times, while SMC has won four games. The teams have played to a draw twice. Last season Portland posted a 2-1 win in Portland before playing to a 1-1 draw in Moraga. The last win for SMC was a 2-1 overtime win in Portland on Nov. 6, 2005.

WCC Leaders:
Saint Mary's junior Justin Kim is tied for first in the West Coast Conference with four assists. Kim added to his total with an assist on Bryan Vandoornick's goal in SMC's win over San Jose State. Senior David Blanchard is fourth in goals (3), sixth in points (6) and points per game (1.0), Bryan Vandoornick is seventh in goals (2), eighth in points per game (0.83) and ninth in points (5), Erik Robert and Dylan Leslie are tied for sixth in assists with two, and freshman Erik Rivas is eighth in the conference in shots (15) and sixth in shots per game (2.50).

Record Watch:
Senior goalkeeper Brian Mason continues to climb up the SMC record books. In three years in net, Mason has put together quite the resume. Mason ranks 1st all-time with a 1.25 career GAA and added two shutouts to have 15.5 on his career. Mason moved to second all-time with 5463 minutes played in goal. Randell Smith (1983-86) leads the category with 5,530 minutes played. Mason ranks fourth all-time with 258 career saves, 12 behind Steve Reardon (1995-99), who ranks third all-time. The senior also sits second all time with 59 matches played and is third with 20 wins in net. Smith ranks first with 67 matches played and Kellen Wilson (1999-01, 03) holds the mark with 22 wins.

Head Coach Adam Cooper:
In his second season at the helm of the Saint Mary's men's soccer program, Adam Cooper led the Gaels to new achievements. For the first time in school history the Gaels downed ranked opponents in back-to-back games. To start the 2006 conference season, SMC defeated No. 11 USF 1-0 and No. 10 USD 4-2.

Under the direction of Cooper, Desmond Brooks was selected second overall in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by Chivas USA. Brooks became the first men's soccer player at SMC to be drafted by the MLS. Matt Fitzgerald was selected by the California Victory in the 2007 USL First Division College Player Draft.

Cooper was named the head coach for of the U.S. Maccabi junior boy's squad. Cooper will head a team of 14 and 15 year olds for the Maccabi Pan-American games in Argentina.

Next Week:
Saint Mary's will continue West Coast Conference action with one home game next week. The Gaels will host the No. 6 ranked Santa Clara Broncos on Sunday, October 14. The game will kick-off at 2 p.m. at Saint Mary's Stadium.