Oct. 31, 2006
The University of San Francisco soccer team (10-6-1, 5-5 WCC), looks to work on building its case for an NCAA playoff berth when they close out the regular season hosting San Diego (10-6-1, 5-5-1) Friday night and Loyola Marymount (9-7-2, 5-4-2) Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Negoesco Stadium.
With the two 2-1 losses in the Northwest last weekend, Santa Clara has clinched the WCC regular season title and automatic NCAA berth, so the Dons must go the at-large route to post-season play.The Dons have also dropped out of the national rankings for the first time since the beginning of the season.
One thing about USF's games this season is that they have all been close. Only four of the Dons 17 games have been decided by more than a goal, and all ten WCC games were decided by just one goal. Strangely enough, USF has played just two overtimes in WCC play.
1966 NCAA CHAMPIONS TO BE HONORED: The 1966 USF NCAA championship soccer team will be honored this weekend as part of their 40th anniversary celebration. They will dine together on Saturday night at the Fior d'Italia Restaurant in the City, and then be honored at halftime of the USF-Loyola Marymount game Sunday afternoon. At least 12 members of the team are scheduled to attend.
SEVEN SENIORS TO BE HONORED SUNDAY: Sunday's game will also be the last regular season home game for seven USF seniors and they will be honored in the pregame introductions. This senior class consisting of Kevin Long, Geremy Uhl, Aaron Chandler, Matt Languis, Robert Smith, Adam Bergman and Daniel DeGeer has led USF back into the national spotlight, taking the team to top-20 national rankings and on the verge of its third consecutive NCAA bid. They also helped USF win the 2004 and 2005 WCC championships.
INJURIES TAKING THEIR TOLL: The Dons have been hurt by season ending injuries to the midfield, specifically to Ben Dessard, Brandon McDonald and Daniel DeGeer. Dessard played in just one contest, while McDonald and DeGeer were lost just prior to the game at Santa Clara, which USF entered on a four game winning streak. The loss of these players has forced all-WCC forward Aaron Chandler to be shifted to the midfield to fill the void. Chandler has been one of the leagues best players at forward over the past two seasons and a key to the Dons' back-to-back titles. "It has been hard on the team to lose these players," said coach Visser. "But they have fought through it and played some pretty good soccer without them."
LOOKING FORWARD TO THE HOME TURF: The Dons are certainly looking forward to playing on their home turf at Negoesco Stadium this weekend. The Green and Gold have a 4-1-0 mark on their pitch. USF has played just five of their 17 games at home this year (and four of their 10 league games) and finished the regular season 6-5-0 on the road and 0-0-1 in their one neutral game. USF, however, finished just 2-4 on the road in league play, compared to 4-2 last season. The major difference was winning both games on the Northwest trip. This season they dropped both games on that swing.
TEN AGAIN: USF reached the ten win mark with the Saint Mary's win. It's the third straight year with 10 or more wins and the third in the last four seasons.
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 61-45-9 mark in his sixth season. Visser coached his 100th game at USF in the home opener this year against Stanford.
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 24 career shutouts and has broken the record for most shutouts in WCC play held by Portland's Casey Keller (13).
Last year, Uhl led the WCC in goals against average in WCC play (0.85) and shutouts (5). 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 5 points in WCC play to become the conference's all-time leading scorer.
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, CS Northridge, USF and Gonzaga), 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 four assists. Chandler scored his 13th career game-winning goal vs. Gonzaga. Junior College All-American Ardalan Attar is second in scoring with four goals and two assists and Conor Chinn each has three goals and two assists
NEW SHUTOUT KING: On October 22nd at Negoesco Stadium, USF goalkeeper Geremy Uhl shutout St. Mary's 1-0 at home. It was Uhl's 14th career WCC shutout, breaking the previous record of 13 held by former Portland and current U.S. National Team goalkeeper Kasey Keller. It was Uhl's sixth shutout of the year and his 24th in his Dons' career. Four of his shutouts have been away from home.
VISSER ON THE WEEKEND: "We are disappointed that we were unable to come up with a win last weekend in the Northwest," he said. "We were in the position to maybe win both games, but couldn't take the lead and fell on late goals. This weekend is huge for us because we want to finish strong and solidify our playoff position. Neither game is easy as both San Diego and LMU are playing well."
FIRST MEETINGS: USF was able to sweep their trip to Southern California taking a 2-1 decision at San Diego on a late blast by Brandon McDonald and get a 1-0 win at LMU on Chris Rodd's goal off a corner kick.