Oct. 9, 2007
UP NEXT FOR THE DONS: San Francisco renews one of the oldest rivalries in West Coast soccer this week when it travels south to take on ancient Bay Area and West Coast Conference rival No. 3 Santa Clara Friday, October 12 at Buck Shaw Stadium. The match is slated for a 5:00 PM start and will be carried live nationally by Fox Soccer Channel. USF looks to bounce back after opening league play with a pair of shutout losses to Portland (1-0) and No. 24 Gonzaga (2-0), but must do so against one of the nation's hottest teams. The Broncos have won four straight contests, while out-scoring their opponents 7-1 and own a seven match unbeaten streak.
DONS & BRONCOS - THE SERIES: While USF owns a 28-17-7 record in the all-time series, dating back to 1967, Santa Clara has enjoyed the better of the rivalry of late. Since 2000, the Broncos have compiled a 8-1-1 record against the Dons. USF's last win came in a 1-0 decision against the No. 12 Broncos (10/29/04).
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 22-13-3 league ledger.
DONS LOOK TO REBOUND FROM ANOTHER SLOW WCC START: San Francisco will not be accused of getting off to a fast start to West Coast Conference play once again this season. Since the start of double round robin play in 2004, USF has started the league slate 0-2 three times (2004, 2006-07). While it remains to be seen how the Green and Gold responds this year, San Francisco bounced back to capture the WCC title in 2004 and secured its third straight NCAA berth last season. USF opened league with a 1-1-0 mark in 2005.
SAN FRANCISCO VS. THE NATIONAL ELITE: USF will never be accused of playing a soft schedule and this season is no exception. When the Dons take on No. 3 Santa Clara this Friday, it will mark the fourth top-25 opponent they have faced this season. USF owns a 1-2-0 record against the national elite this season, with a satisfying 2-0 blanking of No. 11 Cal (9/14) the lone victory so far. The Dons fought No. 5 UCLA (9/20) to a standstill, before falling 1-0 in the 88th minute and suffered a 2-0 loss to No. 24 Gonzaga (10/7). Since the start of the 2004 campaign, San Francisco owns a 6-9-2 record against top-25 foes. In the last three seasons, the Dons own a 5-7-2 record against top-25 foes.
USF AT NO. 3 SANTA CLARA MATCH LIVE ON FOX SOCCER CHANNEL: USF's Friday match at ancient Bay Area rival No. 3 Santa Clara will be televised live nationally on Fox Soccer Channel. 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 67-49-8. 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 two contests decided by one goal and the Dons own a 4-3-0 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 31-18 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).
QUOTING VISSER ON THE FOX SOCCER BROADCAST: "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).
A LOOK AT SANTA CLARA: The Broncos enter Friday night on a truly impressive roll, winning four consecutive matches by a combined 7-1 margin and carry a seven-match unbeaten streak into week two of West Coast Conference play after posting back-to-back road shutouts at Loyola Marymount (1-0) and San Diego (2-0). Santa Clara's lone loss of the season came in a 2-1 setback at Brown (9/7). SCU owns a 17-6 goals advantage and out-shoots opponents 156-84 on the year. Senior midfielder Peter Lowry leads the way offensively with five goals, including a pair of game-winners, while junior forward Jide Ogunbiyi is second on the team with four scoring strikes, two game-winning goals and 10 points. Freshman goalkeeper Kevin Klasila has been strong between the pipes, allowing just one goal in 475:05 minutes, for a miniscule 0.19 GAA and he has made just 11 saves on the year.
DONS HAVING SOME TROUBLE AT HOME: After playing just one of seven non-conference games at home last season, USF has played eight of its first nine games at Negoesco Stadium this year. The Dons have not protected home field of late, dropping four straight, starting with a pair of tough non-conference losses to No. 5 UCLA and No. 28 New Mexico. USF also struggled during the first week of West Coast Conference play, falling to Portland (1-0) and No. 24 Gonzaga (2-0). Despite the recent difficulties, the Dons own an impressive record on their home pitch since FieldTurf was installed at Negoesco Stadium for the 2003 season. The Dons own a 27-14-5 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 136-71-18 in their 23rd season at Negoesco Stadium, including a 3-3 slate in NCAA Tournament contests.
USF IN WEST COAST CONFERENCE OPENERS: San Francisco opened West Coast Conference play Friday night against Portland, and dropped a 1-0 decision. The Dons now own an overall record of 11-9 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 just a 2-6 record and have not won a conference debut since a 4-0 win against Saint Mary's in 2002.
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.
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.
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).
DONS SET TO RESUME ROLE OF ROAD WARRIORS: After playing eight of its first nine matches at home, USF will play six of its next seven matches on the road - all of them West Coast Conference contests, beginning Friday, October 12 at No. 3 Santa Clara. In 2006, USF posted a winning record on the road for the third straight season (6-5-0), while playing one of the most challenging schedules in Division I soccer. The Dons took a 1-0 victory at No. 11 Cal to open the season and added wins at Penn State, Cal State Northridge, San Diego and Loyola Marymount. In the last three seasons, the Dons own a 16-11-0 record in true away matches (3-1-2 at neutral sites) while posting a 10-8-0 slate in WCC road tilts. USF is 23-10-4 at Negoesco Stadium since the start of the 2004 season. San Francisco won its only road match of the season in a 2-1 double overtime thriller at Stanford (9/16).
Erik Visser BY THE NUMBERS: USF head coach Erik Visser is in his third decade of coaching on the Hilltop. Since joining soccer legend Steve Negoesco's staff in 1981, Visser has served as an assistant coach on the men's team (1981-2000) and served as head coach of the women's team (1985-90) before taking the reigns of the Green and Gold in 2001. Visser has coached in a remarkable 634 games at USF and during his four-year playing career competed in 102 matches for a total of 731 games. Just the fourth head coach for the Dons since 1947, Visser ranks third in career victories with 67 behind NSCAA Hall-of-Famers Gus Donoghue (1946-1960), who tallied 121 and mentor Steve Negoesco (1962-2000) who compiled a then NCAA record 544.