Soccer Opens 2006 Slate at UC Irvine Friday Night

Aug. 22, 2006

TEMPE, Ariz. - The 11th varsity season of Arizona State University soccer is set to begin this week as the Sun Devils head to Irvine, Calif., to meet the Anteaters of UC Irvine (0-0-0) for a 7 p.m. match at Anteater Stadium. The Sun Devils are coming off a 9-8-3 overall campaign in 2005 that also saw the team tie for fourth place in the Pac-10 Conference with a 4-4-1 mark.

Arizona State's first home match of the season, slated for Monday, Aug. 28, against Loyola (Md.) will be Monday Night Futbol for the team and fans attending the match will receive a discount in admission. Any fans wearing apparel of any football or futbol team will have their admission reduced to $2.

The Sun Devils enter their 11th varsity campaign with an all-time record of 102-79-14 after going 9-8-3 one year ago. The team's 4-2 defeat of Washington State on the road last year (Oct. 14) was the 100th victory in the history of the program and also earned the 50th victory for head coach Ray Leone in his five years in Tempe.

The coaches of the Pac-10 Conference conducted a vote prior to the season and the Sun Devils were selected to finish eighth in the league. UCLA was selected to defend its crown won in 2005.

The Sun Devils head into their opening match of the season sporting a 6-3-1 overall record in their first match of the season after falling last year at Santa Clara, 2-0. The match at UC Irvine Friday night will mark the fourth season in a row that ASU has played its first match of the season on the road, opening the stretch with a 4-0 win at Hawaii in 2003 before falling in the last two seasons to give the program a 5-2-0 overall record when it opens the season as the visitors. Three days after the UCI match, the Sun Devils also will play their first home contest of the season as they look to improve upon its 4-4-2 overall record in home openers.

After opening the season on the road for the fourth year in a row, the Sun Devils will play at home in three straight contests. Following their match with Loyola, the Sun Devils will then play host to the Heather Farr KICKS Against Breast Cancer Invitational with No. 6 Florida State and St. Louis joining ASU and LC for the weekend. The weekend opens Friday, Sept. 1, with LC and SLU meeting at 4:30 p.m. followed by ASU vs. FSU at 7 p.m. Saturday will feature a banquet on ASU's campus before the final day of action on Sunday with LC and FSU playing at 10:30 a.m. and ASU vs. SLU closing out the weekend at 1 p.m.

As always, the Sun Devils will once again play a solid schedule of opponents, including two of the Final Four teams from one year ago in Florida State and UCLA. Arizona State also has matches slated against five foes ranked in the preseason NSCAA Top 25, including No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 FSU, No. 10 California, No. 17 Arizona and No. 20 Pepperdine. Of those five foes, only the match with Cal is on the road in 2006 while the rest will visit Tempe.

Christine Nieva, a sophomore on the ASU squad, is currently gaining international experience with the Mexican U-20 team as she and her teammates are in Moscow, Russia, taking part in the 2006 FIFA Women's U-20 World Championships. Nieva, who holds dual citizenship with Mexico and the United States, has played in two matches and started both. In the first match, the Mexicans scored a 4-2 defeat of Switzerland before dropping a tough decision to Germany, the defending champions. Mexico closes out pool play Thursday against Korea and will need help from Switzerland to advance to the knock-out stages.

Former Sun Devil Amy LePeilbet and current assistant coach Nancy Augustyniak Goffi have been training with the U.S. Women's National Team in the recent months with LePeilbet also earning playing time during several international matches throughout 2006. LePeilbet has competed in 10 matches so far this season and brought her career cap total to 20. Augustyniak Goffi recently returned from the WNT residency camp with LePeilbet at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., as the team prepares for two more international matches on home soil in the coming month.

Four of the 26 Sun Devils on the roster for the 2006 season are entering their senior campaigns, led by goalkeeper Kim Bingham. The team's backstop will be joined on the defensive end by Michelle Deatherage, a transfer from Utah and a product of Scottsdale, Ariz. The remaining two seniors, Michelle Becker and Katie Mahoney, will again serve as undergraduate coaching assistants this year as injuries have sidelined them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Sun Devils will have 12 true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen on the roster this season. Combine them with four other players from last year's squad and the team has 18 student-athletes that did not play an entire collegiate season in 2005.

The 12 newcomers on the field are not the only new additions to the program this fall as the team also welcomed Nancy Augustyniak Goffi to the coaching staff as an assistant coach. Augustyniak Goffi comes to Tempe following stints of play in both domestic and international leagues following her graduation from Clemson in 2000. As a member of the Tiger team, she was coached by current Sun Devil boss, Ray Leone, and assistant coach, Tracey Leone.

The Sun Devils also bring back five juniors and three sophomores. This group includes the top two returning scorers from last year in Lara Kezer (two goals for four points) and Alissa Oldenkamp (four assists for four points) and several starters from the 2005 squad.

A pair of seniors will serve as the team's captains this season. Both Kim Bingham and Katie Mahoney were selected for the duty for the 2006 squad.

In recent years, the members of the Arizona State University soccer program have been the walking definition of a 'student-athlete' as the Sun Devils have held the top team grade-point average (GPA) of any varsity team on campus, signified by earning the Sparky Award since its inception three years ago. During the 2004 season, 20 of the team's 21 players recorded a 3.00 GPA or better while the 2005 edition saw 21 of the 25 rostered student-athletes attain the same standard.

Also in 2005, the Sun Devil soccer program enjoyed success academically among the Pac-10 Conference as well as the nation. In the league, the Sun Devils saw a school-record 11 student-athletes attain Academic All-Pac-10 accolades, including a program-best four first-team honorees. Among the 10-team league, the Sun Devils had the most first-team honorees (four) and placed the third-most student-athletes on the overall list with 11 total. On the regional level, ASU also placed five of its players on the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District VIII lists, including Elizabeth Bogus and Manya Makoski on the first team.

The Sun Devils and Anteaters will be meeting for the second time in the series after Arizona State won the inaugural battle, 3-2, last year in Tempe. UC Irvine enters the 2006 season after posting a 5-12-2 overall record in 2005 and 1-5-1 in the Big West Conference.

The Sun Devils and Greyhounds will be meeting for the first time in the series. Last year, Loyola posted a 15-5-0 record with a perfect 9-0-0 mark to win the regular season title in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). The Greyhounds, however, lost in the semifinals of the conference tournament and did not advance to the NCAA Championships.

Arizona State will face foes from two different conferences this weekend, including its seventh match with a member of the Big West Conference (UC Irvine) and its first against the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (Loyola). Against the Big West, the Sun Devils hold an all-time mark of 5-1-0 and have won the last two meetings, both coming in overtime, as ASU defeated UCI (3-2) and UC Santa Barbara (1-0) last year.

The Sun Devils will stay home for a pair of matches as the program plays host to the 2006 Heather Farr KICKS Against Breast Cancer Invitational Sept. 1-3 at Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. The four-match event opens Friday with Loyola taking on St. Louis at 4:30 p.m. with the Sun Devils and #6 Florida State meeting at 7 p.m. The weekend concludes Sunday with the Greyhounds and Seminoles meeting at 10:30 a.m. before the Sun Devils close out the home weekend with the Billikens at 1 p.m.

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