Men's Soccer To Open Season With Pair of Exhibition Contests

Aug. 18, 2004

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STANFORD MEN'S SOCCER TEAM NOTES
• Upcoming Games ... Stanford will open its 2004 men's soccer season with a pair of exhibition games at Maloney Field against Division-II powers Chico State (Monday, August 23, 7:00 pm PDT) and Sonoma State (Thursday, August 26, 7:00 pm PDT) ... Chico State advanced to the Division-II national championship game last season and Sonoma State claimed the Division-II national title following the 2002 season ... Stanford will face Chico State for the first time since 1997, when the Cardinal handed the Wildcats a 3-1 defeat ... Stanford will match up with the Seawolves for the first time in over 20 years. The Cardinal beat Sonoma State, 16-0, during the 1981 campaign.

• 2003 in Brief ... Stanford finished the 2003 season with a 3-15-2 overall record and a 0-10-0 mark in Pac-10 conference play ... The Cardinal lost five games by one goal last season and played four overtime contests, posting a 1-1-2 mark ... 11 of Stanford's 16 opponents were selected for postseason play in 2003.

• Opening Day Success ... Stanford has won seven straight season-openers, including last year's 1-0 double-overtime victory over Cal State Fullerton ... The Cardinal won a program record nine straight matches to begin the 2001 season.

• Top Returning Players ... Head Coach Bret Simon welcomes back eight starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's squad ... Included in the returning cast are the team's top three scorers from last season in Matt Janusz (12 points), Darren Fernandez (11 points), and James Twellman (9 points).

• Colorado Connection ... Five players on the 2004 roster are from Colorado, more than any other state. All five (Abolaji, Janusz, Morgan, Ryan, and Thompson) played youth soccer for the Colorado Rush club team and three (Janusz, Ryan, and Morgan) hail from Littleton.

• Fulton Named to Hermann Award List ... Senior Goalkeeper Robby Fulton is one of 25 players that were recently named to the watch list for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, collegiate soccer's top individual honor.

STANFORD MEN'S SOCCER QUICK INDIVIDUAL NOTES
• Darren Fernandez (Sr., F/M) ... Senior ranked second on the team with four goals and 11 points last season ... Led the team with two game-winning goals.

• Robby Fulton (Sr., GK) ... Senior Captain enters 2004 campaign ranked second on program chart with a 0.72 career GAA ... Led team with 1.42 GAA and 56 saves in 11 games last season despite battling injuries ... Set Stanford single-season record with 0.42 GAA in 2002.

• Matt Janusz (Sr., F) ... Stanford's active career leader in goals (19), assists (10), and points (48) ... Led team with five goals and 12 points last season.

• Marcus Ryan (So., M) ... Scored two goals and registered four points as a freshman last season ... Was one of four Cardinal players to appear in all 20 matches, starting 18 contests.

• James Twellman (Sr., F/D) ... Tied for the team lead with three assists last season ... Earned Cosida District VIII Academic All-American honors ... Ranked third on the squad with three goals and nine points.

HEAD COACH BRET SIMON
• Bret Simon begins his fourth season as Stanford's head men's soccer coach, and has compiled a record of 40-22-5 for a .634 winning percentage, the fifth best in program history. Entering the season, Simon has posted an overall record of 136-48-14 (.722) in his nine years as a Division I head coach. Simon is the first coach to lead two different schools to the men's College Cup, taking both Creighton (1996, 2000) and Stanford (2001, 2002) to college soccer's premier event.

DOWN THE ROAD
• Stanford begins the 2004 regular season on the road, as the Cardinal travel to Dallas, TX for the SMU-Mi Cochina Classic. Stanford begins the tournament against Tulsa at 5 pm on September 3, and takes on the host Mustangs at 7:30 pm on Sunday, September 5. Following the trip, the Cardinal will return home to face San Jose State on September 10 in the first game of the Cal-Adidas Legacy Classic.

2004 OUTLOOK: CARDINAL TAKES AIM AT A RETURN TO THE COLLEGE CUP

The 2004 Stanford men's soccer team will look to get back on track following a challenging 2003 season that saw the Cardinal post a 3-15-2 overall record. Stanford struggled with injuries just a season removed from a runner-up finish at the 2002 College Cup. The 2004 Stanford side has its sights set on duplicating the Cardinal success of recent years and returning to college soccer's premier event.

'We have already achieved our number one goal which is to bring back the competitive pride we seemed to struggle with as last season progressed,' stated head coach Bret Simon when discussing the squad's mindset heading into the season. 'With that piece of the puzzle in place, the sky is the limit. We all believe we will be a major player in the national title scene.'

Whereas last season's squad was a largely inexperienced group, this season's team will have a veteran presence to go along with a mix of new talent. Stanford said goodbye to Abe Geiger and Mike Wilson, the only two seniors on last year's team. Geiger was the only Cardinal player to start all 20 matches last season and Wilson made 17 starts in midfield and defense. The Cardinal also lose defender Chad Marshall, Stanford's lone First Team All-Pac-10 performer from a year ago and a M.A.C. Hermann Trophy semifinalist. Marshall, who also garnered Second Team All-Far West Region honors from the NSCAA in 2003, was selected by the Columbus Crew as the second overall draft choice in the 2004 MLS Superdraft.

Despite the key losses, the club will be an experienced unit anchored by an extremely cohesive senior class, and will look for significant contributions from an exciting freshman group in 2004. Stanford returns eight starters and 16 letterwinners from last year's squad. Of the returning veterans, 12 players started at least nine games for the Cardinal last season, and all but three of the returning players saw action in 10 or more matches.

'We have an interesting mix of experience and young talent on this year's roster,' said Simon. 'The veterans have put forth a tremendous off-season effort to improve and have shown great spirit. Our new players have demonstrated success at every level they have competed. The task for the preseason will be to put together this group of talented individuals and mold them into a team.'

Captain Robby Fulton leads the strong core of seniors that are expected to guide the Cardinal this season. Among the seven seniors included on the roster are the team's top three scorers from last season in Matt Janusz, Darren Fernandez, and James Twellman. The Stanford senior class also features a pair of midfielder/defenders in Aaron Maines and Todd Leber, in addition to transfer Jason Griffiths.

'This year's group of seniors were willing to shoulder an exceptional burden in the off season,' praised Simon. 'They have done more both on the field and off the field to prepare for success than any other group that I've worked with in my 24 years of collegiate coaching.'

After leading the nation and setting a Stanford single-season record with a miniscule 0.43 goals against average in 2002, Fulton was hampered by injuries last season but managed to make 11 starts in the net for the Cardinal. In the season opener against Cal State Fullerton, Fulton made 13 saves and picked up his 11th career shutout in the 1-0 win over the Titans. Fulton made 56 saves last season, bringing his career total to 118 and putting him into sixth place on the Stanford career chart. He enters the 2004 campaign with the second lowest career goals against average in Cardinal history (0.72).

'We believe that Robby Fulton is going to be the top goalkeeper in the country this season,' said Simon. 'He has all the physical ability, skills, and leadership qualities to be an All-American. His future professional and international career is just beginning to blossom.'

Janusz, the team's top scorer last season, is extremely dangerous around the goal and is expected to be one of the team's top scoring threats from either a midfield or forward spot. He netted five goals in 2003, while adding two assists for a team-high 12 points. Janusz scored a pair of goals in each of the Cardinal wins over UC Irvine and San Jose State last season. He is Stanford's active career leader in goals (19), assists (10), and points (48).

One of Stanford's most versatile performers, Fernandez spent most of his time at the forward spot for the Cardinal last season. He ranked second on the team with four goals and 11 points, while tying for the team lead with three assists. Fernandez furthered his reputation as a clutch performer in 2003, as his goals against Cal State Fullerton and San Jose State proved to be game-winners. He also assisted on three scores in the win over the Spartans, and was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week for his performance.

Twellman, who has the ability to inspire his teammates with his physical play, started 17 games for the Cardinal and tied for the team lead with three assists, while scoring three goals of his own. Twellman scored on a free kick from 20 yards out to put Stanford ahead in a 1-1 draw with eventual College Cup participant Santa Clara on October 2. He earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors for his play last season.

Maines started 18 games on the backline last season and is expected to play in the midfield and defense for the Cardinal this season. Leber saw action in a variety of roles last year and Griffiths comes to The Farm as a transfer from Middlebury College in Vermont. The native of South Africa earned First Team All-American honors after anchoring a Panther defense that posted 10 shutouts in 2003.

'Jason is a great leader,' said Simon. 'He's a strong organizer as a central defender and should play a key part in helping our team develop.'

The Cardinal junior class features a number of talented players that are expected to contribute, including midfielder Seyi Abolaji who returns to the side after redshirting last season due to injury. Abolaji saw action in 22 games in 2002, recording his first collegiate point with an assist against SMU. Midfielder Bronson McDonald was one of 10 Cardinal players to earn Academic All-Pac-10 recognition last season, garnering honorable mention honors while starting 13 games in 2003.

The remainder of the junior class is primarily slated for action in the Cardinal midfield or defense. Goalkeeper Spencer Porter saw action for the first time in his collegiate career last season, logging 6:42 in the net during the Cardinal win over San Jose State. Midfielder K.C. Coyne came on as a sub in 12 matches and will look to make an impact this year. Junior transfer Cooper McKee is expected to be an influential midfield player in 2004. McKee comes to The Farm from St. Louis where he started 16 games and scored two goals for a Billiken squad that advanced to the quarterfinals of last season's NCAA Tournament.

'Cooper was the linchpin of the St. Louis midfield last season,' said Simon. 'His work ethic is second to none and he should fit in comfortably with what we're doing here at Stanford.'

The sophomore class is a deep and talented group that gained a wealth of experience as rookies on last season's squad. Andrew Kartunen provides the Cardinal with great depth at the goalkeeper position. He was outstanding in relief of Robby Fulton last season, making nine starts for the Cardinal, and posting two wins with a 1.78 goals against average. Kartunen recorded a career-high 14 saves in keeping his first collegiate clean sheet against SMU on September 19. He also brings a summer's worth of United States Under-20 National Team experience with him into the new season.

'Andrew had to jump into a difficult role as a freshman and did an admirable job,' noted Simon. 'He is stronger in every aspect of his game than he was a year ago.'

Midfielders Marcus Ryan and Galen Thompson were two of only four Cardinal players that saw action in all 20 matches last season. Ryan tallied two goals in 2003, tying him for the fourth highest total on the squad. Thompson made 13 starts and collected his first career assist against Brown on September 12.

'I believe that we'll be able to get goals from a lot of different people this season,' commented Simon on his expectations for the offense. 'But I think that the triangle of Darren Fernandez, Matt Janusz, and Marcus Ryan is poised to have a breakout year. All three are capable of producing double-digit goal scoring years in 2004.'

The sophomore class is particularly deep in the midfield and on defense, where Michael Brown, Bret Shimizu, Stephen Ringer, and redshirt freshman Kyle Hency will all compete for playing time. Brown made 13 starts for the Cardinal last season and was a stalwart in the defensive midfielder role, while Shimizu appeared in 18 contests and assisted on two Stanford goals. Ringer saw action in 15 matches as a substitute in 2003, and Hency looks to bounce back after sitting out last season due to a broken leg suffered prior to his freshman season.

The freshman class is an extremely talented group and was ranked as the nation's sixth best recruiting class by Soccer America. The class includes highly-touted prospects in players such as 2004 McDonald's High School All-American Scott Bolkan (Salem, OR/South Salem HS), New Zealand Under-20 National Team player Mark Bartlett (Wellington, New Zealand/Kapiti College), and defender Luke Sager (Farmington, CT/Farmington HS), who was an all-star at the prestigious Adidas Elite Soccer Program (ESP) camp. West Regional ODP player Evan Morgan (Littleton, CO/Chatfield HS), and East Regional ODP performer Dan Shapiro (New Haven, CT/Hopkins School) round out the freshman group, along with Enrique Allen (Hayward, CA/James Logan HS), who is regarded as one of the top defensive recruits to come out of the Bay Area in recent years. Freshman Ryan Oblak (Wichita, KS/Wichita Southeast HS) joins the squad in 2004 after an impressive spring, and looks to compete for time in the Stanford defense.

'We have a very talented and mature group of freshmen,' beamed Simon. 'But, as with all freshmen there will be a learning curve and some will progress more quickly than others. With that said, I expect the freshmen to be important contributors to our success. I believe that down the road, we will look back at this group as being a cornerstone for our program's success.'

Stanford has once again put together a challenging schedule, one that will see the Cardinal play 10 of their 18 games away from the comfort of Maloney Field and face 11 teams that were selected for NCAA Tournament competition in 2003. Included in the slate are two games each against Pac-10 rivals UCLA, Washington, California, and Oregon State. All four of those squads were included in the 2003 NCAA Tournament field.

The Cardinal begins the season with two exhibition games at Maloney Field against Division II powers Chico State (August 23), and Sonoma State (August 26). Stanford opens its regular season schedule at the SMU Mi Cochina Classic in Dallas versus Tulsa and the host Mustangs (September 3 and 5). The Cardinal opens their home slate against San Jose State (September 10) in the first game of the Cal-Adidas Legacy Tournament and close out the weekend against San Diego (September 12) in Berkeley. Stanford will hit the road once again the following weekend, taking on UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton (September 17 and 19) at the CSF Titan Classic. Maloney Field will once again serve as the site of the Stanford/Nike Invitational the following weekend, and the Cardinal is slated to take on 2003 College Cup participant Santa Clara and Brown (September 24 and 26). Stanford opens up Pac-10 conference play at home against California (October 1), before the team makes a northwest swing to take on Oregon State and Washington (October 8 and 10). The Cardinal takes a break from conference play to host UC Davis (October 15), before resuming Pac-10 action at Maloney Field against UCLA (October 17). After traveling to face the Bruins the following weekend (October 22), Stanford returns home for Pac-10 conference clashes with Washington and Oregon State (October 29 and 31). The Cardinal closes out the 2004 regular season schedule with a non-conference match at UC Santa Barbara (November 6) and the team's final regular season contest against California in Berkeley (November 13).

'As always, we try to schedule the top teams from throughout the country to challenge our players and prepare our team for the playoffs,' stated Simon. 'This year is no exception. The conference is going to be extremely competitive. In fact, I expect that this is going to be the finest season in Pac-10 men's soccer history. All five teams have a legitimate shot to make the NCAA Tournament, and to have an impact on it once they're there.'

The 2004 Cardinal will take the pitch this season facing the formidable challenge of returning Stanford soccer to national prominence, but it's a task that Bret Simon and his group looks poised to tackle.

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