Oct. 18, 2007
BULLDOGS FACE ANOTHER STERN TEST: Having already defeated top-ranked and defending College Cup champion UC Santa Barbara and 15th-ranked University of Washington, Gonzaga University faces another stern test when the Bulldogs travel to third-ranked Santa Clara University for an important West Coast Conference match. The teams will battle at 2 p.m. Sunday at Buck Shaw Stadium on the Broncos campus. SCU is the unanimous third-ranked team in the country as all four of the major polls have the Broncos in that spot this week. Gonzaga downed UC Santa Barbara 1-0 and Washington 2-1, and lost to 20th-ranked University of Wisconsin 1-0 in the Bulldogs previous matches this season against nationally-ranked foes. (NOTE: Sunday's match is a 2 p.m. start. Some schedules reflect a different time.)
MUST WIN FOR BULLDOGS? Gonzaga University brings an 8-3-1 overall mark and 3-1-1 West Coast Conference slate into Sunday's match at Santa Clara University, (9-1-2, 4-0-0). The Bulldogs suffered their first WCC loss last week in a 1-0 overtime home setback to the University of San Diego. While the WCC season reaches only the halfway point this weekend, if SCU downs the University of Portland on Friday and enters the Gonzaga match 5-0-0 it increases the importance of the match and limits Gonzaga's margin for error. Three losses has been good enough to win the regular-season title the first two years of double round robin play, the University of San Francisco going 9-3-0 in 2005 and 6-3-3 in 2006 to claim the title. SCU captured the crown last year with an 8-2-2 mark.
STILL RANKED: Gonzaga University's men's soccer team is ranked 28th in the College Soccer News Top 30 this week and is receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/adidas and SoccerTImes.com polls. The Bulldogs fell out of the Soccer America Top 25 after last weekend's home split. The Bulldogs fell one spot to sixth in the NSCAA/adidas Far West Regional rankings.
BEST START: Not since 2000 has Gonzaga University's men's soccer team been off to as hot a start as this season. That year the Bulldogs began the campaign 8-4-0 overall, 3-0-0 in the West Coast Conference. The Bulldogs went on to finish 11-6-0 overall and 5-1-0 and second place in the WCC. The 1998 team won its first five WCC matches before losing its season-finale to finish 5-1 and tie for first. The University of San Diego, by virtue of its win over Gonzaga, received the WCC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The WCC adopted a double round robin schedule in 2004.
RPI LOOKS GOOD: The first of the national RPI rankings was released this week and Gonzaga University is 26th. The Bulldogs are the third-rated team on the West Coast, Santa Clara University at No. 12 and defending College Cup champion UC Santa Barbara at No. 16 the two western teams ahead of the Bulldogs. GU downed UCSB 1-0 this season.
BULLDOGS VS. BRONCOS: Since dropping four straight matches to Santa Clara University from 2003-05, Gonzaga University has a three-match unbeaten streak against the Broncos in the series SCU still leads 9-6-2. The teams slit last year's matches, battling to a scoreless double-overtime tie at Martin Field on the GU campus and the Bulldogs capturing a 2-1 overtime victory in the re-match at Buck Shaw Stadium on George Josten's goal 12 seconds into the OT. Gonzaga also won the final meeting of the 2005 season 2-1 at home. Gonzaga had never won at Buck Shaw until last season, going 0-7-1 in their first eight trips to SCU.
THE THORARINSSON TALE OF THE TAPE: Gonzaga University head coach Einar Thorarinsson is 109-98-17 in his 13th season with the Bulldogs. His overall record is 228-150-30 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 44 wins and is second among active coaches, Seamus McFadden of the University of San Diego atop both lists with 68 wins.