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Women's Soccer Opens 2007 Season At California Tournament

Aug. 29, 2007

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THIS WEEK IN GAEL SOCCER
The Saint Mary's women's soccer team will play its 2007 season opener against Colorado College in the California Tournament on Friday, August 31 at 2 p.m. The Gaels will then close the tournament on Sunday against Columbia with a noon game. Both games of the tournament will be played at Edward's Stadium on the University of California, Berkeley campus.

SCOUTING THE COLORADO COLLEGE TIGERS
Colorado College enters the 2007 season with 10 starters and 18 letter winners from a team that posted a 15-6-1 overall record in 2006. Colorado College advanced to the championship game of the 2006 Conference USA tournament before falling to Colorado in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.

Tiger players Emily Beans and Molly Uyenishi have emerged as Conference-USA's Preseason Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively. Beans and Uyenishi are among 12 players voted to the league's Preseason All-Conference Team. Beans, a forward, returns for her sophomore season after being named C-USA Freshman of the Year and second-team all-conference in 2006, after scoring 13 goals in her first season. Colorado College, which will enter its second season as an affiliate member of C-USA, is picked to finish third in the 12-team conference standings behind defending regular-season champion SMU and Central Florida.

SMC VERSUS COLORADO COL.; THE SERIES
When Saint Mary's takes the field against Colorado College, it will mark the 11th meeting between the two schools. Colorado College holds a 7-2-1 advantage in the series. SMC and Colorado College played to a 0-0 tie in the last meeting during the 2005 season. In 2004, Colorado College defeated SMC 1-0 in Moraga and in 1998 and 2000, Saint Mary's posted back-to-back wins over the Tigers. Colorado College won the first six meetings of the series, which dates back to the 1988 season.

SCOUTING THE COLUMBIA LIONS
Six starters return for the Lions in 2007, including first team All-Ivy League goalkeeper Allison Vespa. The senior co-captain had a good 2006 season, posting seven shutouts in 14 starts. Columbia's defense blanked its opponents ten times last season and in seven of its final eight matches. Vespa had a 0.74 goals against average and a 7-3-3 record in goal.

Columbia posted a 10-5-3 overall record in 2006 and return 18 letter winners and five starters from a team that posted a 6-0-1 Ivy League ledger. The top two scorers returning for Columbia are Sophie Reiser and Jenny Brandt. Reister had 10 points on three goals and four assists as a freshman in 2006. Brandt was third on the team with nine points after scoring four goals and one assist.

SMC VERSUS COLUMBIA; THE SERIES
When Saint Mary's and Columbia meet on Sunday, it will mark the second meeting in women's soccer between the two schools. In the only other game, Saint Mary's posted a 2-1 overtime win over the Lions in 2004. The game was played as part of the California Tournament.

SMC AT THE CALIFORNIA TOURNAMENT
This season will mark the sixth straight year that Saint Mary's has played in the California Tournament. The Gaels have a record of 5-5 in the 10 games played in the tournament. Saint Mary's posted an 0-2 record with losses to CS Fullerton (2-1) and Kansas (4-2) last season.

ROCCO RETURNS TO BALANCE MIDFIELD
Stefani Rocco was one of four players to see action in all 20 games last year and started 19 of those games. From her midfield position last season, Rocco scored one goal and had one assist as a sophomore. As a freshman, Rocco dished out four assists and started 19 games.

LEE GIVES GAELS VERSATILITY
Mallory Lee is the only returning player to garner all-conference honors in 2006. Lee, who was an honorable mention All-WCC selection in 2006, gives the Gaels a versatile player who can play both on the defensive line and in the midfield. Lee scored one goal and had an assist as a sophomore playing in the SMC midfield. She played in 17 games last season, and was a starter in each one of those games.

WEINER RETURNS AS SMC POINT LEADER
During her freshman season, Allie Weiner finished second on the team with eight points. Her three goals and two assists was five behind team-leader Nikki Schrey, who transferred to Cal, and returns as the team leader in points.

MENZHUBER AND SPANN PROVIDE OFFENSIVE THREAT
During her freshman campaign, Jessica Menzhuber had a good start to her Saint Mary's career. Menzhuber began her career with three goals and an assist, and matched Danielle Spann for fourth on the team in points with seven. Spann also had three goals and one assists for the Gaels in 2006. Menzhuber will give the Gaels a tall front runner, while Spann is a threat to score from her outside midfield position.

NINE NEW FACES ADDED TO ROSTER
With the loss of six starters and eight letter winners from the 2006 squad, SMC needed to revamp the roster for the 2007 season. The Gaels will take the pitch this season with nine newcomers and will look to many of them to provide an instant impact. SMC will look towards freshmen Mercede Koning to play in the middle and Alex Ciliento to give the Gaels a punch on the front line. SMC will also look towards Dani Lucier, Megan Maldonado, and Caitlin Wallace to provide depth in the middle, Chloe Johnson and Bree Villar on defense and Cari Makino in goal.

GAELS FALL TO PACIFIC IN EXHIBITION GAME
Saint Mary's opened 2007 with an exhibition game against Pacific on Friday, August 24. Saint Mary's was defeated by the Tigers 2-1 in Moraga. SMC got on the scoreboard first when Jessica Menzhuber scored in the 39th minute. After leading 1-0 at the half, Saint Mary's gave up two second half goals and could not answer with a goal in the final 45 minutes to even the match.

GAELS PICKED 8TH IN WCC COACHES POLL
In the West Coast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, the Saint Mary's women's soccer team was predicted to finish eighth. The Gaels received just eight votes following a season where SMC has a 1-5-1 record against WCC opponents. Portland garnered six first place votes to take the top spot and Santa Clara had two first place votes and was tabbed second.

LOOKING BACK AT THE 2006 SEASON
Saint Mary's finished the 2006 season with a 3-13-4 overall record and finished tied for seventh in the West Coast Conference with a 1-5-1 record against conference opponents. The Gaels opened the season with a 3-1 win over NCAA Tournament team Long Island, before dropping seven of the next nine with two ties. After a 2-0 win over UC Davis, the Gaels got their last win of the season, and one WCC victory with a 4-1 win over San Francisco. Following three losses, SMC posted a 0-0 tie with Loyola Marymount before ending the season with losses to UCSB, San Diego and Santa Clara. The Gaels played nine games that ended with a one-goal difference, and SMC ended up on the losing end in all nine contests.

NEXT WEEK
The Saint Mary's women's soccer team will return to action next week with the Saint Mary's Tournament. The Gaels will host Cal State Bakersfield, Vermont and California in the two day, four-game event. Cal and CS Bakersfield will open the event on Friday at 2 pm, followed by SMC and Vermont at 4:30. The second day of the tournament will have Vermont and Cal playing at noon followed by SMC and CS Bakersfield at 2:30 p.m.