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Soccer Dons Battle at Santa Clara Friday, Host St. Mary's Sunday Night

Oct. 17, 2006

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The University of San Francisco soccer team (9-3-1, 4-2 WCC), ranked in the top-20 in all four major polls, returns from a bye week to face Bay Area rivals Santa Clara and St. Mary's this weekend.

The Dons (who have a 6-2 road mark) conclude a three-game WCC road swing at Santa Clara (8-3-4, 4-1-2 WCC) on Friday night and then face St. Mary's (4-6-5, 2-3-2) at Negoesco Stadium on Sunday night.

USF, who last played the weekend of Oct. 6-8, is riding a four game winning streak after topping Portland and Gonzaga at home and then going on the road to beat LMU and San Diego.

This weekend, however, USF is facing the only two teams to defeat them in league play in the opening weekend, Santa Clara (who won 2-1 at Negoesco on Sep. 24) and St. Mary's who topped USF 1-0 in the league opener on Sep. 21.

AT SANTA CLARA: Friday's game at Santa Clara is a matchup of teams that are both top-20 ranked. USF is ahead of Santa Clara in three of the four polls, but whoever wins this weekend will surely take the lead. The Broncos are ranked #14 by Soccer America, #15 by Soccer Times, #21 by NSCAA and #21 by College Soccer News.

In the first matchup, Keith Devey scored off a rebound in the third minute and Sean Danzeiser scored on a breakaway in the 64th minute as the Broncos held off a late USF rally to win 2-1 at Negoesco Stadium on September 24th. Matt Languis had USF's goal in the 71st minute off a free kick.

Santa Clara leads the WCC in points with 14, but has played one more game than USF (12 points.). The Broncos are 3-0-2 over their past five games since losing at home to LMU on Sept. 29. They have played two ties (Gonzaga, SMC) and have defeated San Diego, Portland and St. Mary's (ot) over the past five contests. They rank third in the league in goals scored per game (1.53) and fourth in goals allowed (1.00).

ST. MARY'S: The Dons will be seeking revenge against the Gaels (4-6-5, 2-3-2 WCC) for the 1-0 loss at Moraga on Sept. 21. It was a game of two halves with the Gaels dominating early, and scoring a goal in the 21st minute (Alex Christlieb) and holding on as USF dominated in the second stanza. In reverse action to the Dons, St. Mary's won their first two games at home (vs. USF and San Diego) but have failed to record a win since then, losing to Portland, Gonzaga and Santa Clara (ot) and earning ties against LMU and Santa Clara.

The Gaels are sixth in the WCC in goals scored (1.20) and sixth in goals allowed (1.40).

HEAD COACH Erik Visser: A former USF defender, whose marking of Angelo DiBernardo in the NCAA title game helped the Dons earn the 1978 crown, Visser joined the USF coaching staff as an assistant to NCAA legend Stephen Negoesco in 1982. While an assistant, he also served as the initial head coach for the women's program in 1985. He took over the men's program in 2001, and has had great success over the past two seasons, earning West Coast Conference Coach of the Year Honors in 2004 and 2005. He currently has a 60-42-9 mark in his sixth season. Visser coached his 100th game at USF in the home opener this year against Stanford.

GOING FOR THE TRIPLE: The Dons will be going for their third consecutive West Coast Conference crown. USF won the 2004 title with a 9-3-0 mark and the 2005 title with a 6-3-3 record. The Dons were selected to win the 2006 league championship in a poll of WCC coaches, edging Santa Clara. Both the Dons and Broncos had three first place votes.

WCC COACHES POLL: 1. San Francisco 32 (3); 2. Santa Clara 31 (3), 3. San Diego - 28 (1), 4. LMU 23; 5. Portland, St. Mary's- 12, 7. Gonzaga - 9.

UHL WHITEWASHES: Geremy Uhl has now shutout out every team he has faced in the Bay Area (Cal, Stanford, Santa Clara, St. Mary's, San Jose State) over his career. He has also already shut out every West Coast Conference squad at least once (Portland, Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Santa Clara, San Diego and Loyola Marymount.) He has 23 career shutouts and has tied the record for most shutouts in WCC play held by Portland's Casey Keller (13). One more shutout will give him the record by himself.He tied the record on October 6 at LMU in USF's 1-0 win.

Last year, Uhl led the WCC in goals against average in WCC play (0.85) and shutouts (5). He needs one more WCC shutout to break Kasey Keller (of Portland and the US National team) for most shutouts in league play (13).

He also won USF Most Valuable Player last season. As a sophomore he helped lead USF to WCC crown with a 0.38 goals against average.

Aaron Chandler: Aaron Chandler scored his 13th career game winner against Gonzaga Sep. 29. He has 15 career WCC goals and can surpass the career WCC mark of Gonzaga's Jeff McAlister with just two more goals this season. He also needs 7 points in WCC play to become the conference's all-time leading scorer.

McDONALD AGAIN: Brandon McDonald scored the game winner in USF's last contest at San Diego, a blast from 25 yards. It was very similar to another 25 yard kick he scored in San Diego last season.

NEWCOMERS: Although they have won two consecutive WCC titles, the Dons have added a lot of new blood this season. Included is defender Chris Rodd, who has been a key member of the defense and scored the only goal in USF's 1-0 win at LMU. Also joining the team this year and having played significant minutes is junior college All-American forward Ardalan Attar (who scored against Stanford and CS Northridge), high school All-American Jesse Henderson, Seattle University transfer Conor Chinn (who scored at San Jose State and tallied the GWG vs. Portland) and Tyler Ruthven, who has seen time at midfield and defender.

SCORING LEADERS: Aaron Chandler, who led the team in scoring over the past two seasons, currently leads the team with four goals and two assists. Chandler scored his 13th career game-winning goal Friday vs. GonzagaArdalan Attar is second in scoring with three goals and an assist and Matt Languis and Conor Chinn each have two goals and two assists

VISSER ON THE WEEKEND: "The team is a on a little roll right now. Not playing last weekend enabled our players to heal and refresh their minds and focus on their games. Friday night's game with Santa Clara is a big one, as whoever wins will have a slight edge going into the rest of league play.

"St. Mary's has already beaten us, and took Santa Clara into overtime twice last weekend. They are a quality team that nobody should overlook."

The Dons will again hit the road the following weekend for road games at Portland and Gonzaga before closing out the regular season at home against LMU and San Diego.