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Men's Soccer Plays No. 20 Santa Clara Back-to-Back

Oct. 9, 2006

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This Week In Men's Soccer: The Saint Mary's men's soccer team (4-5-4, 2-2-1 WCC) will play No. 20-ranked Santa Clara (7-3-3, 3-1-1 WCC) in back-to-back games this weekend. The Gaels will continue to stay on the road on Friday, October 13 when they play the rival Broncos at 7 p.m. from Buck Shaw Stadium. SMC will then host SCU on Sunday, October 15 at 2 p.m. from Saint Mary's Stadium.

Last Week Recap: The Gaels had a tough weekend in their first road swing of West Coast Conference play. SMC fell in its first contest of the Pacific Northwest trip to Portland 2-1. The Gaels took an early 1-0 lead on a David Blanchard goal, but allowed two late goals to succumb to the loss. On Sunday, Gonzaga ran away from Saint Mary's by the score of 4-0.

Scouting Santa Clara: The Gaels head to Buck Shaw Stadium before hosting the Broncos on Sunday. Santa Clara boasts a 7-3-3 overall record and a 3-1-1 mark in WCC play. At home the Broncos are 2-1-2 and 3-2-1 on the road. This past weekend the Broncos played Gonzaga to a scoreless tie and defeated Portland 2-1. As a team, SCU has outscored its opponents 21-14 including a 10-3 clip in the first half. Defensively the Broncos have shutout four opponents and hold a 1.02 GAA.

Offensively the Broncos are led by Peter Lowry and Keith Devey. Both players have tallied nine points on four goals and an assist. Three other players sport six points apiece. In net, Joseph Buttitta has allowed 12 goals for 0.91 GAA and has recorded 29 saves with four shutouts.

Versus Santa Clara: The two WCC teams have met 30 times with the Broncos grabbing a 27-1-2 advantage. The two teams played each other tough last season with SCU edging SMC in both games by a single goal.

WCC Leaders: Sophomore forward Carlos Diaz currently leads the conference in shots with 43, shots per game with 3.31, he is tied with Matthew Fitzgerald for sixth in assists with three, and he is eighth in points with nine. Junior goalkeeper Brian Mason is fifth in saves with 31 and fifth in saves per game with 3.10.

In conference play, the Gaels are currently second in assists with seven, first in assists per game with 1.40, and third in goals per game with 1.40. SMC is third in goals with seven, points with 21 and shutouts with one.

Individually in WCC action, Leslie leads in points with six, points per game with 1.20, goals with three and goals per game with 0.46. Fellow freshman Mark Araujo is currently first in assists with two and second in assists per game with 0.40. Mason is second in the WCC with a shutout and a 0.25 shutouts per game clip.

Back-to-Back Players of the Week: Dylan Leslie was named WCC Player of the Week and senior defender Alex Christlieb nabbed the honor the previous week. Leslie was honored after tallying a hat-trick against No. 10 San Diego while Christlieb recorded the game-winner against No. 11 San Francisco.

Gaels Mow Down Ranked Opponents: Saint Mary's has downed two ranked opponents in back-to-back games. The Gaels started conference play with a 1-0 victory over then No. 11 San Francisco. The very next game the Gaels defeated the No. 10 Toreros 4-2. It marks the first time in school history that SMC has beaten two ranked opponents in a row.

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 with a single road game against San Francisco. SMC will head to USF on Sunday, October 22 with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. from Negoesco Stadium.