Aug. 25, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. -
AT A GLANCE: The Titans open the 2011 season Friday night at home against nearby Hope International University, an NAIA program with numerous Cal State Fullerton connections, not the least being the fact that the Royals practice on the CSF campus.
THE TEAMS: Both teams are opening their 2011 seasons, a week earlier than in 2010 for Cal State Fullerton.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (0-0, 0-0) returns most of the roster that went 7-12-2 overall and 4-6-0 in the Big West Conference yet reached the title game of the post-season tournament in 2010. Returning first-team All-Big West selections Nick Posthuma (9 goals, 19 points) and Kevin Venegas (7 goals, 17 points) were the top scorers last year and they are supported again by the Nos. 3 & 4 scorers as well in Jesse Escalante (4 goals) and Oscar Aguero (1 goal, 5 assists). Senior goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon played all but 98 minutes of last season in the Titan net.
POSTHUMA QUESTION MARK: Nick Posthuma missed most of Fall camp with an unusual upper leg injury. His status is uncertain.
NEIGHBORLY HOPE: Hope (formerly Pacific Christian College) is located across Nutwood Avenue from the CSF campus in former Fullerton dormitories and a commercial center. The Royals feature first-year Head Coach Earl Alexander, who played for Cal State Fullerton in 2005. His strength and conditioning coach is Antonio Vernaschi, who played the last two seasons with the Titans and is the older brother of CSF newcomer Roberto Vernaschi. This will be Hope's only match against an NCAA Div. I opponent.
ELECTRONICALLY: Mike Martinez will provide audio play-by-play of the Hope match via the Titans' website. It also will be televised on BigWest TV (subscription).
HEAD-TO-HEAD: This is only the second meeting of the two programs. The Titans won the first meeting, 1-0, on Oct. 16, 2010, on a goal by Kevin Venegas with about 11 minutes to play. The Titans outshot the Royals, 22-4.
PRE-SEASON RECORD: The Titans played three game-like scrimmages earlier in August. The Orange beat the Blue, 5-0, in an intrasquad affair and the Titans tied Cal, 2-2, in a 90-minute match and 1-1 in a 30-minute exhibition that followed. Jesse Escalante scored a pair of goals on each date.
PRE-SEASON POLL: The Titans were forecast for third place in the annual Big West coaches' pre-season poll. Defending tourney champion UC Santa Barbara is the favorite followed by Cal Poly, Fullerton, 2010 regular season champion UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside and UC Davis.
LOOKING AHEAD: Fullerton plays a handful of matches against nationally ranked teams and its next outing is against defending national champion Akron at the Cal State Northridge tournament next week.
LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD: Sacramento State will join the Big West Conference as an associate member for men's soccer beginning with the 2012 schedule. Currently, there is a 7-team alignment with each team playing 10 games -- home-and-home with four foes and single games with the remaining two programs.