Aug. 31, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The preseason's grueling training schedule is finally over for the Santa Clara University men's soccer team as it prepares for Friday's season-opener against second-ranked UCLA in Fullerton, Calif.
The match is scheduled for a 5 p.m. (Pacific) start at Titan Stadium on the Cal State Fullerton campus. On Sunday, Santa Clara will play host Fullerton at the same site. Tickets are available at the match or by calling 714/278-2783. Live Internet coverage of Friday's match will be available on SantaClaraBroncos.com by clicking here.
"The guys put in a lot of hard work leading up to Friday's opening game," said head coach Cameron Rast. "I feel good about where we are right now, but that doesn't necessarily mean we will come out and play our best against a really difficult opponent in UCLA.
"It is always good early to get to know your team against some of the best teams in the country and that is certainly what we are going to do over the next few weeks. We bit off a lot by playing UCLA, Fullerton, Maryland and Georgetown to open the season away from home. As we say often, the goal is to get better each week, learn from each match and try to progress throughout the season."
The Broncos, ranked 13th in the preseason by Soccer America, will be hoping to repeat last year's hot start when the Broncos opened the season by winning their first seven matches and 11 of their first 12. The team doesn't, however, hope to repeat the last time it did not win a neutral site season opener -- 1997, a 2-1 loss to UCLA at the Reebock Invitational interestingly also played at Fullerton.
The Broncos return nine of their 13 goal scorers from last season, including preseason All-America selection Mehdi Ballouchy. The Casablanca, Morocco native scored three goals and served nine assists on the season and was named one of 25 players on the preseason watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy.
Also returning are Keith DeVey and Peter Lowry, who combined for nine goals and three assists a year ago and, between them, registered six game winners. Senior Hector Guzman scored three goals last season, all of which were game-winners for the Broncos.
Santa Clara has just two returning starters among the four backs and goalkeeper from a defense that allowed less than a goal per game and ranked 10th nationally with an 0.76 goals against average.
Sophomore Christopher Moreo is expected to start at goal after playing eight games as a freshman in 2004. Senior Jeff Scott and sophomore Jamil Roberts will provide experience to the back line that will include sophomore Brian Curry and freshman Jide Ogunbiyi.
Roberts, the brother of Los Angeles Galaxy defender Troy Roberts, was the starting defender for the national U-18 squad that won the 2005 Milk Cup for the first time in U.S. history. He played the full 90 minutes in the team's three wins over Brazil, Serbia & Montenegro and host Northern Ireland.
UCLA lost four key starters from last year's team that went 14-4-2 overall. Coach Jorge Salcedo is in his second season and was the 2004 Pac-10 Conference Co-Coach of the Year. Among his assistant coaching staff is former Santa Clara All-American Paul Bravo.
"UCLA has great depth, particularly in the back," said Rast. "They have a team that is talented and mature and is rightfully ranked among the best teams in the country this year. It will be a great matchup for our guys on Friday. But, the reality is that it is the first of what we hope will be 26 games for us this season."
Fullerton will be saying goodbye to 25-year head coach Al Mistri, who enters his final season as the Titan's mentor. Fullerton went 6-10-2 last season but Mistri's states that his team has "the best talent we've had in quite some time."
Following the two games over the weekend, Santa Clara travels to College Park, Md. to face the second-ranked Maryland Terrapins in the Maryland adidas Classic. The two teams will get a chance to scout each other in advanced as the Terps are scheduled to play at Fullerton Friday night following the Santa Clara/UCLA match and at UCLA on Sunday.
The Broncos will also play Georgetown on Sunday, Sept. 11 while in College Park.
Friday's match against Maryland on Sept. 9 will be televised live throughout the East Coast on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. It will also be shown tape-delayed following the Santa Clara vs. Notre Dame women's soccer game that night at 9 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet West. Check www.comcastsportsnet.com for channel information.