Oct. 11, 2007
BULLDOGS RETURN HOME - FINALLY: Perhaps league-leading Gonzaga University should hop on a bus, drive around for awhile and then come back to Martin Field for Friday's 1 p.m. West Coast Conference home opener with Loyola Marymount University. Despite the rigors of the road, it has treated the Bulldogs well over the past seven matches. Gonzaga hasn't played a home match since Sept. 7 when they downed the University of Washington for the first time in program history. Since then the Bulldogs have been to four states and played seven matches. All they did in those seven matches was go 5-1-1 and open WCC play 2-0-1 in that same stretch. Over the next four weeks the Bulldogs will play 5-of-6 matches at home.
IMPROVING IN POLLS: Gonzaga University's men's soccer team is ranked in three of the four nationally-recognized polls this week after posting a pair of West Coast Conference road shutouts last weekend. The Bulldogs (7-2-1; 2-0-1) moved up one spot to 23rd in the Soccer America poll, climbed three spots to 27th in the College Soccer News rankings and entered the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Top 25 at No. 25, the Bulldogs first NSCAA/adidas ranking since Sept. 11. Gonzaga is also on the verge of cracking the SoccerTimes.com rankings as the Bulldogs and Furman University are the next two teams receiving votes with 15 points each. Gonzaga also jumped one spot to fifth in the NSCAA/adidas Far West Regional rankings.
GOOSE EGGS: A pair of road shutouts last week earned Gonzaga University keeper Vito Higgins the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Week. Higgins blanked Saint Mary's College 1-0 with five saves and the University of San Francisco 2-0 with three saves to give him four shutouts this season. That matches his shutout production for all of last season and ties him for fourth on the single-season Gonzaga list. His 12 career shutouts rank third, one shy of matching Mike McCarthy for second. Josh Fouts is the all-time leader with 19. All three hail from Hawai'i. Higgins shared the award with University of Portland keeper Austin Guerrero who also posted shutouts against SMC and USF.
DEEEE-FENSE: While Gonzaga University keeper Vito Higgins is the last line of defense, he's got quite a supporting cast in front of him. Seniors Austin Washington and Daniel Scott and sophomores Tim Muravez and Nick Barclay have helped the Bulldogs record a 0.59 overall goals-against-average and a 0.31 GAA in West Coast Conference play.
BULLDOGS VS. LIONS: Although Gonzaga University lost both matches to Loyola Marymount University last season, the Bulldogs still hold a 10-7-1 edge in the series. One of the LMU wins came in 1992, one year prior to the Bulldogs officially becoming a member of the West Coast Conference. The Lions took a 4-1 win at Gonzaga and a 1-0 home victory last season. Since the Bulldogs ran off four straight wins from 1998-01, LMU has taken 6-of-8 meetings in the series.
BULLDOGS VS. TOREROS: If there is one team Gonzaga University has struggles with since joining the West Coast Conference in 1993 it's the University of San Diego. The Toreros lead the series 12-4-1, including a USD win in 1992 prior to the Bulldogs officially joining the WCC for the '93 season. Gonzaga University snapped a seven-match winless streak against the University of San Francisco with last year's 2-1 double-overtime victory over the Dons in Spokane. Tye Perdido scored 56 seconds into the second OT last year to give the Bulldogs the win over the 16th-ranked Dons. USF still leads the overall series 9-7-1.
IT'S A WINNER: Gonzaga University senior midfielder Grant Lundberg has two goals this season - and both have been match winners. The product of Spokane's Lewis and Clark High, took a cross from Tim Muravez and beat Saint Mary's College keeper on the one timer that trickled into the net for the lone goal last Friday. His other goal of the season dealt defending College Cup champion and No. 1 ranked UC Santa Barbara a 1-0 setback the opening weekend of the season. He now has five match-winning goals among his 11 career tallies.
KEY ASSISTS: Seniors George Josten and John Reha climbed up the Gonzaga University career assists charts Sunday against the University of San Francisco. Josten picked up his team-leading fourth assist and the 14th of his career to move him into sole possession of fourth on the Gonzaga career charts. He trails Brian Ching (23), Jason Kuska (21) and current assistant coach Mike Thompson (16). Reha's assist was his third of the season and 13th of his career, who moved into a tie for fifth in career assists with Scott Yuska and Arni Ingi Pjetursson.
THE THORARINSSON TALE OF THE TAPE: Gonzaga University head coach Einar Thorarinsson is 108-97-17 in his 13th season with the Bulldogs. His overall record is 227-149-30 that includes nine seasons across town at Whitworth College. He picked up his 100th Gonzaga win last season with a 3-0 home win at Saint Mary's College. After going 3-10-2 in his first season of 1995, the Bulldogs have had winning seasons in six of the last 10 seasons under Thorarinsson. His teams led the West Coast Conference in wins with a 14-4-0 record in 1997 and 12-4-2 mark in 1998, capturing WCC co-championships in each of those seasons. The Bulldogs were 9-5-2 in 2001, making their inaugural College Cup appearance. In 2005 Gonzaga went to the final match of the season with a chance to win the WCC title. He was accorded his third WCC Coach of the Year honor in 2005 to go with similar honors won in 1996-97 as he was the first coach in Gonzaga history to receive back-to-back WCC Coach of the Year accolades. He is the fourth winningest coach overall in WCC contests with 43 wins and is second among active coaches, Seamus McFadden of the University of San Diego atop both lists with 66 wins.