Titans Open Season at Nemesis Pepperdine

Aug. 22, 2008

MALIBU, CA - The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team opens its 2008 campaign this weekend as the Titans travel to Malibu, Calif., for a season-opening tilt against Southern California rival Pepperdine on Saturday (Aug. 23) at 1 p.m.

SERIES RECORDS: Fullerton has struggled against the Waves in recent years, posting a 3-7-1 overall record against Pepperdine in the history of the series... the Titans are winless in their last four meetings against the Waves, but the two schools haven't met since the 2004 season opener - a 1-0 Pepperdine victory at Titan Stadium... Fullerton has lost four of the five matches in Malibu with the only win coming in 1994 by a 2-1 count.

ABOUT THE WAVES: Pepperdine begins the 2008 season with seven straight matches on its home pitch where it is 97-31-16 (.729) in 15 seasons... The Waves are coming off a rough 2007 campaign that saw them post a 5-8-6 overall record and a 2-4-1 mark in the always-difficult West Coast Conference for sixth place... Under the direction of 11th-year head coach Tim Ward, Pepperdine returns eight starters and 14 letter winners to the field this season led by senior forward Amanda Rupp, who led the team with five goals and 15 points in 2007... Starting keeper Kayla Stolte also returns in net for the Waves after posting a 0.93 goals against average and 73 saves to go with three shutouts a season ago.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Nametags may be an important part of the Cal State Fullerton uniform this season as 17 newcomers (including 16 freshmen) join a core group of returners that includes 10 letter winners and six starters from a squad that finished 12-8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big West Conference a season ago. The Titans lost their top three scorers for the 2007 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight season and are led offensively by sophomore midfielder Christina Murillo, who scored five times during her rookie season, and senior defender Jenae Gibbens, the 2007 Big West Defensive Player of the Year who also scored four times and added a pair of assists.

TITANS PICKED FOURTH IN BIG WEST RACE: Three-time defending Big West Conference Tournament champion Cal State Fullerton has been forecast to finish fourth in the 2008 standings in the annual pre-season poll of the Big West coaches.

UC Santa Barbara is the favorite to capture the regular-season title. The Gauchos picked up four first-place votes and 74 points to narrowly edge two-time defending league co-champion Long Beach State, which collected three first-place nods and 73 points.

Cal Poly was ranked third but picked up the two remaining first-place votes on its way to 62 points, just two ahead of the Titans with 60. The Mustangs and Titans met in the championship match last year with Fullerton advancing via penalty kicks.

UC Irvine had 40 points to come in fifth, followed by Pacific (30) and Cal State Northridge (26) in sixth and seventh, respectively. Rounding out the poll was UC Riverside with 25 points and UC Davis with 15.

ONE FOR THE PINKIE: Or whatever finger you want to put it on. The defending champion Titans will be looking for their fourth-consecutive Big West Conference Tournament title in 2008 after defeating UC Irvine and Cal Poly in last year's event to claim their third consecutive tournament crown and become only the second school in the history of the conference to advance to the NCAA Tournament in three straight seasons (Cal Poly, 2002-04). Cal State Fullerton is the only school to win three straight league tournament titles in the history of the conference and already has "one for the thumb" after claiming a share of its fifth regular season title in 2007.

FULLERTON FALLS IN EXHIBITION: A pair of unassisted goals proved to be the Titans' undoing in their only exhibition match of the 2008 season as Cal State Bakersfield's Kassi Massey scored in the fourth minute of overtime to defeat Cal State Fullerton, 2-1. Redshirt sophomore Claudia Munoz got the Titans on the board early in the 14th minute, heading home a throw-in by Jenae Gibbens at the 13:06 mark for the 1-0 advantage. However, Bakersfield got a goal by Sarah Gaskins in the 66th minute to tie match and set the stage for Massey's OT heroics. Fullerton sophomore Shannon Simpson made seven saves in net for the Titans while three different players had two shots to pace the offense.

FOR OPENERS: Cal State Fullerton is just 5-10 in regular season openers since 2003, having lost three of its last four openers.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Titans are opening the regular season on the road for only the third time in the history of the program and the second straight year. Fullerton has lost its previous two road season openers, falling to San Diego State by a 5-0 score in 1993 and a 2-0 defeat to UNLV in last year's opener.

FRESH FACES: Cal State Fullerton's 2008 recruiting class was ranked among the nation's top 100 classes according to Soccer Buzz, and the No. 18 class in a stacked West Region that has seven of the top 25 and 11 of the top 50 classes in the country. Taking it further, 25 of the 32 players on the roster are underclassmen and just over two-thirds of those underclassmen will be competing at the Division I level for the first time.

JUST WIN, BABY: The Titans have been one of the Big West Conference's winningest programs in the new millennium, posting 96 overall and 43 conference wins since the 2000 season - the most of any school in the league. Along the same vein, Fullerton's 19 wins en route to the third round of the NCAA Tournament is also a Big West Conference record while the Titans have posted seven-straight winning seasons and four-straight years with double-digit victories.