This Week in Pac-10 Men's Soccer

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AROUND THE LEAGUE

CALIFORNIA

The Golden Bears have nine players returning in 2009, including preseason All-American junior forward Andrew Wiedeman, who led the Conference in points (29), goals (12) and game-winning goals (4) last season. The loss of first team All-Pac-10 senior goalkeeper Stefan Frei to graduation leaves a big void to be filled, but head coach Kevin Grimes welcomes nine newcomers in 2009, a crop rated No. 5 in the nation among recruiting classes according to Soccer America.

OREGON STATE

Head coach Steve Simmons begins his first year at the helm of the Beavers’ after leading Northern Illinois to a 59-47-13 overall record the last six seasons, including an appearance in the MAC Championship in 2008. Returning for Oregon State in 2009 is sophomore forward Danny Mwanga, last season’s Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, who ranked seventh in the Conference in goals per game (0.36), and ninth in both shots per game (2.09) and points per game (0.73).

SAN DIEGO STATE

The Aztecs will be playing one of the toughest schedules in program history, facing four former national champions this season. Head Coach Lev Kirshner returns 21 letterwinners, including eight starters. On the offensive side of the ball, the Aztecs return 97 percent of the program’s scoring from a year ago. The biggest concern will be the goalkeeping. Last season, SDSU played four goalkeepers, each playing at least three games apiece. 

STANFORD

Head coach Bret Simon should have a stout defense on The Farm. First team All-Pac-10 and 2009 Hermann Trophy candidate Bobby Warshaw, Stanford’s leading scorer last year, is slated to move to a more defensive role in 2009. The Cardinal welcome the No. 4-rated recruiting class by Soccer America. Highlighting the class is the California Gatorade Boy’s Soccer Player of the Year forward Adam Jahn

UCLA

The Bruins return eight starters from a team that won the Pac-10 Championship last season. The 2008 Pac-10 Player of the Year senior midfielder Michael Stephens returns after leading the Conference in points (23) and tied for first in assists (9) last year. Head coach Jorge Salcedo welcomes the No. 3-rated incoming class by Soccer America. Senior goalkeeper Brain Perk returns after playing the summer with U-20 U.S. National Team.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies will look to make their 12th NCAA appearance in the last 15 years under Head Coach Dean Wurzberger. UW returns eight starters, including its leader goal-scorer in sophomore forward Brent Richards (8) and leader in assists, sophomore midfielder Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (6). The Huskies return both goalkeepers from last season redshirt senior Rylan Hawkins and redshirt junior Stephen Fung

 

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

GOLDEN BEAR TO WATCH

3 • Andrew Wiedeman

JR • Forward • San Ramon, Calif.

Wiedeman started in all 21 games for the Golden Bears last season. He led the Conference in points (29) and goals (12) and, in two seasons, has tallied 19 goals, 11 assists, and 49 points. As a sophomore, he was named a NSCAA third team All-American, All-Pac-10 first-team, Top Drawer Soccer’s Team of the Season, first team NSCAA Far West All-R egion, as well as, second team Pac-10 All-Academic. This summer, College Soccer News named Wiedeman a 2009 preseason All-American.

 

BEAVER TO WATCH

10 • Danny Mwanga

SO • Forward • Portland, Ore.

Mwanga returns as the team leader in goals (4), points (8) and shot percentage (.174). As a freshman, Mwanga started 11 matches and made an immediate impact in his first-collegiate start against Loyola-Marymount, scoring the game-tying goal to force overtime in a game that eventually ended in a 1-1 tie. He was voted Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Pac-10 by the league coaches. In Conference-only matches, Mwanga was tied for sixth in goals (3), tied for seventh in shots (20) and tied for 10th in points (6). Mwanga promises to be a strong scoring threat for the Oregon State offense in 2009.

 

AZTEC TO WATCH

10 • Nick Cardenas

SR • Defender • Thornton, Colo.

At 6-5 and 205 lbs., Cardenas is a punishing defender who plays a physical style and is not afraid of contact. He is the Aztec’s most dangerous player on set pieces and corner kicks and uses his size and athleticism to beat opponents to the ball. A clutch performer with three career game-winning goals, he is dominant in the air, both on offense and defense. A vocal leader who inspires teammates, Cardenas, started all 18 games last season. He is a scoring threat with eight goals, six assists and 22 points in three years, despite playing in the back. Cardenas was Named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List last year and was a second team All-Pac-10 honoree. He was among the players listed in College Soccer News’ preseason All-American team this summer

 

CARDINAL TO WATCH

14 • Bobby Warshaw

JR • Midfield/Forward • Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Warshaw is an extremely gifted passer with an exceptional ability to read the game and supply the right play to create opportunities for his teammates and himself to score goals. He has a passion for soccer that is reflected in his tireless work ethic. A 2009 Hermann Trophy Watch List candidate who was Stanford’s leading scorer last year, he is slated to move to a more defensive role this season. A first team All-Pac-10 and first team Pac-10 All-Academic team honoree with a 3.66 GPA a year ago, he led the team in points (8) and was tied for second in assists (2) as a sophomore. In two seasons with the Cardinal, he has netted eight goals and tallied four assists for 20 points.

 

BRUIN TO WATCH

30 • Michael Stephens

SR • Midfielder • Naperville, Ill.

The Pac-10 Player of the Year in 200, Stephens led the Conference in points (23) and tied for first in assists (9). He became the first Pac-10 men’s soccer player ever to earn Player of the Week honors three times in the same season last year. He totaled four assists in the regular-season finale at San Diego State, tying the UCLA single-game record. Last season, he ranked second on the team in goals (7) and earned first team All-Pac-10 honors, as well as a Soccer America Collegiate MVP second team nods. He started in all 21 games last season and has played in 66 career games, starting all but three. In three years at UCLA, he has totaled 11 goals and 13 assists for 35 points. Stephens has also seen action with the U.S. National Team. In 2008, he scored the game-winner and added an assist in a 3-2 win over Honduras’ CD Victoria at the New Orleans Tournament.

 

HUSKY TO WATCH

15 • Brent Richards

SO • Forward • Camas, Wash. 

As a freshman in 2008, sophomore forward Brent Richards was one of three Huskies to play in all 18 matches, starting 17 of them. Last season, he finished as the team leader in goals (8), second in points (18) and dished out two assists on his way to being named an All-Pac-10 honorable mention selection. Led the Pac-10 in shots (71) and finished tied for third in goals and sixth in points. At the Diadora/Spinx Furman Invitational last season, netted game-winning goals in back-to-back matches against College Of Charleston and Furman. The former Washington state Gatorade Player of the Year (2007), earned Offensive Most Valuable Player honors at the same tournament for scoring three goals in two matches. In doing so, made College Soccer News National Team of the Week for his efforts

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