No. 6 Men's Soccer Kicks Off Season In Portland
Aug. 27, 2001
This Week's Action:
(Both games to be played at Portland, Ore.)
Sat., Sept. 1 vs. Gonzaga 12 p.m. Portland, Ore.
Mon., Sept. 3 vs. Portland 2:15 p.m. Portland, Ore.
Primed and Ready
After concluding one of its most successful seasons in school history, Stanford is hoping for an encore in 2001. The Cardinal finished with a stellar 18-3-1 mark, matching the 1998 squad for the most wins in program history. Last year's club broke nine school single-season records and advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals, where they were upended 2-1 by Final Four participant SMU. Stanford has qualified for the postseason in each of the past four seasons and looks to continue that trend this year.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Gonzaga finished last season 11-6-0 overall, good enough for second place in West Coast Conference play. The Bulldogs will need to establish a new offensive attack after losing scoring threats Brian Ching and Jason Kuska to graduation. Senior Abbas Faridnia is the top returning scorer with three goals and 11 points a year ago, while seniors Danny Huet and Zach Scott anchor a strong defensive corps. Mike McCarthy, who started 11 of the 17 matches last season and posted a 1.06 GAA, is the squad's top goalkeeper. Head coach Eianr Thorarinsson has compiled a 60-38-6 record as he enters his sixth season. Stanford dropped a 3-1 decision to Gonzaga in 1999, which was the first meeting between the two schools.
Scouting the Pilots
Portland, projected to finish third in the WCC thi s year in preseason polls, is coming off a 10-7-2 campaign and a fifth place conference finish. Junior Kelly Gray returns at forward after leading the WCC in goals scored in conference games with five. Junior Curtis Spiteri (GK) will likely get the start in goal for the Pilots. Gray and Spiteri were both named CollegeSoccer.com preseason all-Americans, Gray was a second-team pick, while Spiteri was an honorable mention selection. Portland is led by head coach Clive Charles, who has accumulated a 187-80-29 mark in 15 years with the Bulldogs. The Cardinal are 4-4-2 overall against Portland, with the Pilots recording a 4-1 win in 1991 in the last contest.
Stanford enters the 2001 season ranked No. 6 in the NSCAA national poll. Connecticut tops the list, with Creighton, SMU, Indiana and North Carolina rounding out the top five, respectively. The Cardinal ended last year with a final ranking of No. 6, after being tabbed No. 23 in the NSCAA preseason rankings.
The Simon File
Head Coach Bret Simon begins his first season as head coach of the Stanford men. Simon, a 1980 graduate of the University of Massachusetts, came to The Farm in February of 2001 after serving as the men's head coach at Creighton University for the past six seasons. Simon guided Creighton to its most successful season in school history last year, as the Bluejays (22-4-0) earned a trip to the College Cup for the second time in five years before falling to Connecticut in the championship match. A four-time Coach of the Year honoree, Simon compiled a 96-26-9 overall record in six seasons at Creighton. Simon also led the Bluejays to four Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championships, a pair of MVC regular-season titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances.
Middle of the Pac
Stanford was picked to finish third in this year's presesaon Pac-10 coaches' poll, tallying 17 points and one first place vote. Defending champion Washington edged UCLA by one point (22-21) to claim the top spot in the poll.
2000 Pacific-10 Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll
(Points 5-4-3-2-1, first place votes in parantheses)
1. Washington (2) 22
2. UCLA (2) 21
3. Stanford (1) 17
4. Oregon State 8
5. California 7
Tourney-Tested Road Warriors
It shouldn't take the Cardinal very long to become acquainted with the format of tournament play or the rigors of traveling this season. That's because Stanford will be competing in three consecutive tournaments in the month of September, with the first two away from Maloney Field. The Cardinal men open the season in Oregon against Gonzaga and Portland, follow that up with an appearance at the adidas Cal Legacy Classic and conclude the stretch with a showing in the SMU Tournament, which features a rematch of last season's NCAA quarterfinal contest against SMU. Stanford's first home match is scheduled for Sept. 28, when they host Dartmouth in the opening round of the 5th annual Stanford/Nike Tournament. Traditional powers San Jose State, UCLA and Washington highlight this year's schedule in addition to the matchup with SMU.
Tough To Find The Net
Stanford's calling card last season came in the form of the nation's stingiest defense. The Cardinal backline held opponents to just 10 goals in 2065:12 minutes for a 0.44 goals against average (GAA) with 16 shutouts in 22 matches. That same defensive intensity will be emphasized again this year, as the Cardinal will rely heavily on keeping opponents out of the net. Senior All-American Lee Morrison will anchor the unit, along with help from Todd Dunivant, Taylor Graham, Aaron Biddle and Travis James.
Changing of the Guard
For the first time since 1996 the Cardinal will be without the services of Adam Zapala, who concluded his Stanford career by posting 16 shutouts while leading the nation with an 0.45 GAA. Zapala owns or shares eight school career and single-season records, and proved to be a valuable team leader in 2000. The lead candidates to succeed Zapala are junior Andrew Terris and freshman Robby Fulton. Terris saw time between the posts in five matches last season, while Fulton redshirted last year.
Roger That- Levesque Leads Offense
Last year's offense was a balanced attack that finished with 68 goals and 71 assists for 207 points, and included 10 different players reaching double-digits in points. Despite the fact that only five of those 10 players will be suiting up for the Cardinal this season, the coaching staff likes what it sees. 2000 All Pac-10 Honorable Mention selection Roger Levesque has been tabbed as perhaps the leader of the offense, after ranking third on the team in points (21), fourth in goals (7) and fifth in assists (7) during last season's campaign. Matt Janusz, who redshirted last year, and junior Mike Murphy are projected to contribute immediately as well.
Men in the Middle
The midfield position looks to be in great shape, as three veterans should provide depth and stability. Abe Geiger, who was a member of the 2001 United States Under-20 National Team, was one of Stanford's top reserves last season and could be in for a breakthrough year. Seniors Matt Moses and Derek Shanahan each started all 22 games in 2000 and combined for 32 shots and 18 assists. Sophomore Mike Wilson should also be a valuable asset after a promising 2000 season.
Trends and Streaks
When the Cardinal take the field for their Sept. 1 season opener against Gonzaga, there will be a couple team and individual streaks on the line:
-- Stanford has won their last four season openers, and has outscored their opponents 15-1 during that span. Ironically, their last loss in a season opener came in 1996 against Creighton- which is where new Cardinal head coach Bret Simon has coached for the last six seasons.
-- Senior Lee Morrison is the most durable Cardinal player hands down, having started all of Stanford's 66 matches the past three years.