Stanford Kicks Off Men's Soccer Season on Sunday
Aug. 25, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford enters the 2008 season with expectations of contending for the Pacific-10 Conference title and earning an NCAA playoff berth. Stanford coach Bret Simon believes the team fell one victory short of the NCAAs last season after finishing in a three-way tie for second in conference play. Overall, Stanford went 7-6-5 last season, getting a boost from a strong opening performance against defending national champion UC Santa Barbara. Scott Bolkan tied the match in the 81st minute from to earn a double-overtime 2-2 draw.
Scouting San Jose State
The Spartans return nine starters from a team that went 10-9 last season and finished third in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Among the returnees are a pair of All-MPSF second-team selections: midfielder Hiroki Akiyama and defender Ed Brand. The Spartans scored 36 goals last season, giving them an average of 1.95 per game, good for 15th in the nation. Midfielder Nick Cukar, who had six goals and two assists last season, is the top returning scorer. This will be San Jose State's second match of the season, following a Friday night contest against visiting Notre Dame de Namur, an NCAA Division II program from Belmont, Calif. The Spartans were picked to finish tied for third in the MPSF, by a poll of conference coaches.
Stanford-San Jose State Series
Stanford's game-by-game records go back to 1973, but until last season, the two had met every year in that span. Last year, they failed to play for the first time in at least 35 years. Beyond 1973, it's possible that the annual series had gone uninterrupted since the end of World War II. The schools had shared the same conference affiliations since at least the 1950s, until Stanford joined the Pac-10 for soccer in 2000. Going back to 1973 (not including 1975; incomplete record), Stanford holds a 19-12-4 series edge. In that time, they have met in Stanford's season opener three times (1973, 1997 and 2005), with Stanford going 2-0-1. San Jose State won the most recent meeting between the two teams, by scoring two goals in the final five minutes to win, 2-1, on Sept. 8, 2006, at the Stanford Nike Classic.
Stanford returns nine starters and 22 letterwinners overall from its 7-6-5 team of last year. Among the returnees are leading scorer Bobby Warshaw, the 2007 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and 2006 goal-scoring leader Evan Morgan, who missed last season because of injury. Stanford returns starters at each position, starting from the back with two-year starting goalkeeper John Moore, still only a junior. The defense features sixth-year senior Ryan Imamura in central defense and right-side defender Tim Jones. T.J. Novak, a starting defender last year, is expected to move up to the central midfield where he'll join captain Michael Strickland and returning starter Tom Montgomery. Out wide, Thiago Sa Freire and Brant Bishop return, and up front Warshaw is back.
This season marks the 95th in Stanford men's soccer history. Since its first match, in 1911, Stanford is 608-440-159. Stanford coach Bret Simon is closing in on 250 career coaching victories. In his 20th season, going back his days at NAIA Berry College (Mount Berry, Ga.), Simon's record is 243-121-47, with a winning percentage of .648. Senior defender Tim Jones enters the season with a team-high streak of 46 consecutive starts. Jones has not missed a start since being placed into the lineup midway through his freshman season. Goalkeeper John Moore enters the season with a scoreless streak of 119 minutes. Moore ended last season with a shutout of Pac-10 champion California. Since 1976, Stanford is 22-3-7 in season openers.