Aug. 18, 2011
FULLERTON, CA -
KICK OFF: The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer program kicks-off its 19th season of Division I competition this weekend as the Titans host Utah and Long Island in a pair of non-conference clashes at Titan Stadium. Fullerton's regular-season opener against the Utes will begin under the lights at 7 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 19) before the Titans will attempt to shoot down the Blackbirds on Sunday evening (Aug. 21) at 6 p.m.
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES: Please note that Cal State Fullerton's contest against Long Island on Sunday (Aug. 21) has been changed from the originally scheduled 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and that the Titans' match at San Diego on Sept. 23 has been moved to Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Utah, Long Island nor Cal State Fullerton are ranked entering this weekend's season openers.
BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF Athletics), Twitter (@CSUFAthletics) and Vimeo.com (vimeo.com/fullertontitans). In addition, the women's soccer team has its own Twitter; get the inside scoop at @CSUF_WSoccer.
"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?": Both of Cal State Fullerton's matches this weekend can be heard live over the Internet at www.FullertonTitans.com thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet. Veteran soccer broadcaster Mike Martinez will have the call live from Titan Stadium. To access the links, click on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage at FullertonTitans.com.
"CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?": Thanks to a partnership between the Big West Conference and the CBS College Sports Network, live video of select Cal State Fullerton women's soccer home and road contests will be streamed live over the Internet via the BigWestTV platform. A monthly subscription of \$9.95 or an annual subscription of \$79.95 delivers exclusive coverage to you. For more information, please visit www.BigWest.org/TV. Both of this weekend's contests will be streamed live.
UTAH BRIEFLY: Utah returns 14 letter winners and 8 starters off of last season's squad that finished 5-15-1 overall and 3-3-1 in the Mountain West Conference for 4th place... now a member of the newly expanded Pacific-12 Conference, the Utes were picked to finish No. 11 in the league in a preseason vote of the conference's head coaches... Senior forward Erin Dalley is the leading returning scorer after netting three goals and seven points in 2010... Junior Hannah Turpen returns in net after posting 94 saves, a 1.92 goals against average, and a pair of shutouts last season... Head Coach Rich Manning is in his 10th season at the helm, posting a 110-63-19 (.622) overall record.
FOR THE RECORD: The all-time series between the Titans and the Utes is tied up, 1-1-1, with all three meetings coming in the last five seasons... Utah posted a 3-1 win in Fullerton in the last meeting between the two sides in 2009 while the Titans posted a 4-0 win at a neutral site in Tucson in 2005... the two battled to a 1-1 draw in Salt Lake City in 2008.
LONG ISLAND BRIEFLY: Long Island returns 17 letter winners and 6 starters off of last season's squad that finished 15-3-3 overall and 8-1-1 in the Northeast Conference for 1st place... the Blackbirds return their top four scorers from a season ago, led by senior Ariana Calderon, who finished with six goals and 14 points in 2010... Sophomore Jessica Sexton returns in net after a stellar freshman year that saw her post a 13-2-3 overall record, 57 saves, a 0.23 goals against average, and 10 shutouts in 19 matches en route to conference goalkeeper of the year honors... Sexton led the NCAA in goals against average and save percentage (.934)... Head Coach Tracey Bartholomew is in her 12th season at the helm, posting an 110-92-12 overall mark in her previous 11 campaigns.
FOR THE RECORD: Sunday's match-up with the Blackbirds will be the first between the two schools in women's soccer.
"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!": Senior Caitlin Mellano along with redshirt juniors Jennifer Smith, JeAnne Mazeau, and Stacey Fox have been selected by the coaching staff as team captains for the 2011 season.
FOR STARTERS: Friday night's contest will mark the 16th time in 19 seasons that the Titans will open a regular season on their home field, looking to improve on a 5-10 mark when doing so. Fullerton is 6-12 all-time in regular season openers and will open against Utah for the second time in school history - the last coming in 2009 when the Utes posted a 3-1 win.
WOMEN'S SOCCER PICKED SEVENTH: The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team was picked to finish seventh in the Big West Conference this season according to a poll of the league's head coaches released by the conference office.
The Titans received 34 points to stand ahead of UC Davis (18 points) and UC Riverside (10 points) in eighth and ninth place, respectively. Defending league champion UC Irvine received seven first-place votes and 78 points overall to stand atop the poll followed by last year's conference tournament champion, Long Beach State, in second place with 70 points.
Cal State Northridge (52 points), Pacific (51), UC Santa Barbara (48), and Cal Poly (44) rounded out the poll. Both the Tigers and Mustangs also garnered a first-place vote.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton returns 16 letter winners and six starters off of last year's squad that finished 6-13 overall and 3-5 in the Big West Conference for a sixth-place tie. The Titans, led by fifth-year head coach Demian Brown, will have to offset the loss of the team's top two goal scorers (Christina Murillo and Casey Volk) from a season ago, who combined to score 12 of the team's 23 goals and accounted for a combined 28 points on the year.
Junior Brisa Gonzalez, sophomore Nikki McCants, and sophomore Lauren Mellano all return after scoring two goals apiece a season ago while redshirt junior defender Jennifer Smith (1 goal, 4 assists) is the leading point-scorer coming back for 2011. Senior midfielder Caitlin Mellano also returns her playmaking ability after finishing tied for fifth in the Big West with five assists in 2010. Returning to bolster the offense after missing all of 2010 due to injury is redshirt junior Stacey Fox, who scored five goals and finished with 13 points as a freshman in 2008 and added three more scores in 2009.
In net, sophomore Lindsey Maricic is the only returning keeper with Division I experience, posting a 1-3 mark in five appearances for the Titans as a true freshman to go along with 18 saves and a 1.71 goals against average.
BY THE NUMBERS: Fullerton returns just 35 percent of its goals (8 of 23), 71 percent of its assists (12 of 17), 44 percent of its points (28 for 63), and 61 percent of its shots (119 of 195) from a season ago. What does that mean? Probably only that numbers are fun.
ORANGE DOMINATES BLUE IN PRESEASON SCRIMMAGE: Sophomore Nikki McCants scored twice while also tallying an assist and teammates Erica Mazeau and Ann Marie Tangorra each added a goal and two assists on Aug. 13 as the Orange team defeated its counterparts in blue, 7-2, during the program's annual Blue-Orange Scrimmage at Titan Stadium.
"I was encouraged at the level of competition on both sides this afternoon," fifth-year head coach Demian Brown said. "It was a good thing to see as we get ready to start the season."
Caitlin Mellano, Brisa Gonzalez, and Jennifer Smith also tuned up for the regular season by finding the back of the net for the victorious Orange team while sophomore Kishi Smith and newcomer Colleen Ortega scored for the Blue Team. Kishi Smith led all players with six shots on the night while McCants and Tangorra led the Orange team with three shots apiece, pacing their side to a 13-9 advantage in the shots column.
OFFENSE SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE: If last Saturday's scrimmage was any sign of things to come, the Titans' offense may be in for a big year. Fullerton's seven goals in the scimmage matched the team's total from its last eight regular season matches in 2010 combined and would have accounted for almost a third of the 23 total goals scored by the Titans in all of last year.
ELDER MELLANO AMONG BIG WEST'S RETURNING BEST: Senior Caitlin Mellano will enter her final collegiate season looking to put her name into the Fullerton record books as her seven career assists put her five helpers shy of breaking into the school's top 10 list and places her in a tie for seventh among active players in the Big West Conference entering this season. Mellano, who had at least a share of the team lead in the category for the second straight season, posted the most assists by a Titan in a single season since Jenae Gibbens finished with seven assists in 2008.
NO "PAC"-ING IT IN: Utah will visit Titan Stadium on Friday as one of the newest members of the Pac-12 Conference, but Fullerton will try and use the opportunity to improve its mark against one of the nation's finest athletic conferences. The Titans are just 10-21-6 (.351) against current members of the Pac-12, having gone winless in their last four matches against league members dating back to a 3-2 win in overtime over then-No. 15 California in 2008. On the other hand, Sunday's contest against Long Island will only be Fullerton's second against a Northeast Conference school following a 2-1 win over Fairleigh Dickinson in 2003.
HOME SWEET HOME: Everyone likes playing at home. The Titans are no different. Cal State Fullerton will get its chance to defend its home field right off the bat as the Titans open the 2011 season with three straight home contests and five home matches in their first seven overall - a stark contrast to last year when Fullerton endured a string of almost a full month without a home contest. The Titans will also be able to enjoy the comforts of home for any sort of stretch run required to make the postseason as they will close out the regular season with five of their final six contests at Titan Stadium - four of those against Big West Conference opposition.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Fullerton may enter the season as one of the youngest teams in the Big West Conference for 2011 as, of the Titans 31-woman roster, 22 of those are underclassmen for this year's campaign, including 11 newcomers (nine of those being true freshmen).
STIFF COMPETITION: Five teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2010 dot Cal State Fullerton's schedule this season, including NCAA "Sweet 16" participant and preseason No. 17-ranked UC Irvine, BYU, New Mexico, San Diego, and Long Beach State.
WE ARE FAMILY: It will be a family affair of sorts on the pitch once again this season for the Titans, who will feature two sets of sisters on their 2011 roster in the Mellano's (senior Caitlin and sophomore Lauren) and the Mazeau's (redshirt junior JeAnne and sophomore Erica). Extending that thought to the "Titan Family," there are numerous family connections: redshirt freshman Brianna Chapman had two cousins that played football for Fullerton, freshman Adriana Gjonovich's mother, Yvette (nee Hernandez), played softball for the Titans from 1988-91, and the Mellano sister's father, Bob, was a member of the Titans' baseball team for two seasons (1985-86)
ALUMNAE NEWS: A pair of Titans competed on the world's biggest stage this past summer as Karen Bardsley (2002, 2004-06) and Marlene Sandoval (2002-05) battled in Group B at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. Bardsley was in net for all four of England's matches, helping the Three Lions finish atop the group and advance to the knockout stage before falling to France in the quarterfinals. Sandoval was on the back line for Mexico, which finished 0-1-2 in group play to finish third, including helping her side to a 1-1 draw against Bardsley and England.
In Finland, former Big West Defensive Player of the Year Jenae Gibbens (2006-08) has helped her Finnsh club, PK-35 Vantaa to the knockout stage of the 2011 UEFA Women's Champions League in the club's inaugural appearance in the event. PK-35 won its qualifying group with seven points and now awaits the draw for the next round, which begins on Sept. 28.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Kandace Wilson (2002-05) and her Western New York Flash teammates claimed the WPS regular season title and will host the WPS Championship on August 27 looking for her second league title after scoring a goal and helping FC Gold Pride to the 2010 WPS title.
TITANS PARTICIPATE IN "SOCCER FOR HOPE" CLINIC: The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team set aside its busy training schedule, joining up with "Soccer for Hope" for a special clinic in Mission Viejo on Tuesday morning (Aug. 16).
"Soccer for Hope is an event that we have participated in for the last nine years," fifth-year head coach Demian Brown said. "It is a great cause and for our women to have an opportunity to help children and share in their lives is something amazing. As a program, we feel that supporting these types of events is a great way to ground ourselves and truly help us to see what sport is all about."
The Titans' players and coaches ran kids ages 6-to-14 through a variety of drills and games, providing one-on-one instruction about the finer points of the game. After the clinic, the players and coaches talked with the campers and participated in a post-clinic autograph session.
"Soccer for Hope is a great opportunity for our team to give back to the youth in our community and support an amazing cause that we pray continues to grow and change children's lives," senior midfielder Caitlin Mellano said.
"Soccer for Hope" is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 by Oliver Wyss, a former professional soccer player and survivor of Aplastic Anemia whose goal was to give back to the many caretakers who saved his life while raising awareness in the soccer community about the needs of children with life threatening diseases. For more information on the organization, please visit their website at soccerforhope.org.