Aug. 29, 2007
FULLERTON, CA - The 2007 Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team opens its regular season this weekend as one of four teams at the UNLV adidas Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Titans open tournament play on Friday night (Aug. 31) against the host Rebels at 7:30 p.m. before taking on Idaho State on Sunday morning (Sept. 2) at 11 a.m. to conclude the weekend. Pacific-10 Conference power Arizona State will also compete.
IN THE POLLS: Cal State Fullerton is receiving votes to start the season in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's top 25 preseason prognostications. The Titans are also receiving votes in the West Region according to Soccer Buzz. Neither UNLV nor Idaho State are ranked.
SERIES RECORDS: Fullerton trails in the all-time series against both of this weekend's opponents as the Titans have gone 1-2 against UNLV and are 0-1 against Idaho State. Cal State Fullerton is 9-15 all-time against current Mountain West Conference opponents and 5-5 overall against members of the Big Sky Conference.
REVENGE ON THEIR MINDS?: When the Titans and Rebels take the pitch on Friday night, it will mark the first meeting between the two programs since meeting in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2005 at Titan Stadium. Cal State Fullerton won that match, 1-0, on an own goal with less than a minute remaining in overtime.
ABOUT THE REBELS: UNLV is the three-time defending Mountain West Conference champion and are picked to finish third in the league in 2007. The Rebels, who were eliminated from NCAA Tournament play by UCLA in the first round last season, returns 10 starters and 16 letter winners from last year's squad that finished 9-11-3 overall and 3-4 in conference play. UNLV returns its top two scorers from 2006 in senior midfielder Katie Carney (4 goals, 4 assists) and senior forward Armani Rice (5 goals, 1 assist).
ABOUT THE BENGALS: Idaho State opens its season this weekend after defeating Utah Valley State, 3-1, in an exhibition last week. The Bengals, champions of both the regular season and tournament in the Big Sky Conference in 2006, returns eight starters for the 2007 campaign and were picked fifth in the league by the coaches. Idaho State, which finished 10-9-1 overall and 5-2 in the Big Sky last season, was eliminated in the first round of last season's NCAA Tournament by No. 11 Utah by a 3-2 score in double overtime.
BRUTAL STRETCH BEGINS THIS WEEK: Four of the Titans first five matches this season will feature squads that gained the NCAA Tournament a year ago, beginning this weekend against UNLV and Idaho State. National quarterfinalist Portland is up next at the Husky Nike Classic in Seattle, Wash., followed a week later by second-round participant California on Sept. 14.
TITANS TALLY EXHIBITION WIN: Second half goals by junior Jenae Gibbens and senior Randa Helmers helped lift host Cal State Fullerton to a 2-0 victory over visiting Biola University in an exhibition contest on Aug. 25 at Titan Stadium. The Titans outshot the Eagles by a 22-3 count, including six by senior Kristen Boujos to lead all players. Junior goalkeeper Shayla Sabin, who sat out all of last season, was forced to make just one save in logging the shutout.
THIS IS NEW: Cal State Fullerton will be opening its regular season on the road for only the second time in school history and the first since the program's inaugural year in 1993 when the Titans lost to San Diego State, 5-0. Fullerton has opened the season against UNLV on one previous occasion, falling to the Rebels by a 3-1 count on Aug. 25, 2000, at Titan Stadium, and are 0-1 all-time in Las Vegas after a 3-2 loss to UNLV in 1999.
FOR OPENERS: The Titans are 5-9 all-time in regular season openers since 1993, snapping a two-match losing streak with a 4-0 win over Idaho last season.
TITANS PICKED FOURTH IN BIG WEST PRESEASON POLL: The Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team was selected to finish fourth in the 2007 Big West Conference race according to a vote of the league's coaches released on Thursday afternoon by the conference office.
Defending regular season champion Long Beach State was picked to repeat as conference champs, receiving five first-place votes and 77 points overall to outdistance the field.
Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara each received two first-place votes and tied for second place overall with 63 points, just four points ahead of the Titans in fourth with 59 points.
UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge follow with 41 and 37 points, respectively while Pacific (32 points), UC Davis (20), and UC Irvine (13) round out the poll.
MEET HEAD COACH Demian Brown: After spending the last three seasons as the top assistant, Demian Brown takes the reigns of the Fullerton program for his first season as head coach in 2007. In his three previous seasons as an assistant, Brown has helped the Titans to a 42-20-3 (.669) overall record, a 17-4-2 (.783) mark in Big West Conference play, two regular season conference crowns, a pair of Big West Tournament titles, and two trips to the NCAA Tournament. He has had a huge impact on the defensive side of the ball for Fullerton, which set numerous defensive single-season records in 2004 and improved on those efforts in 2005, setting new marks for fewest goals allowed, fewest shots allowed, and shutouts in a season.
MEET ASSISTANT COACH Scott Alexander: Former Cal State Fullerton goalkeeper Scott Alexander returns to the bench for his second season as a full-time assistant coach after spending four years as a volunteer assistant under former head coach Ali Khosroshahin. Alexander's duties will continue to focus on training the Titans' goalkeepers after helping coach record-setting netminder Karen Bardsley to three-straight Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year trophies and four All-Big West awards.
ALSO NEW ON THE BENCH: Two former Fullerton greats will return to the sidelines for the Titans in 2007 as three-time All-Big West honoree Lauryn Welch will be an assistant coach with the team while three-time Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year will be a volunteer assistant.
ARMED AND READY: Cal State Fullerton returns three of its top four scorers from a season ago in the form of Brianna Buffington (8 goals), Kristen Boujos (5 goals, 11 points), and Candice Byler (3 goals, 3 assists), and the Titans return 24 of their Big West Conference-best 34 goals scored overall last season.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE TITANS: Cal State Fullerton returns 13 letterwinners and eight starters off of last year's squad that finished 12-8-2 overall, 4-2-1 in the Big West Conference (third place), and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Three of the team's top four scorers return from a season ago, but gone are three-time conference Goalkeeper of the Year, Karen Bardsley, last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Erica Janke, and on-the-field leader and second-leading scorer Lauryn Welch.
WE ARE FAMILY: Freshman Shannon Cox is the latest chapter in what has become a very successful athletic legacy at Cal State Fullerton. Shannon is the younger sister of former Titan standouts Jodie and Kellie Cox, who starred on Fullerton's softball and women's soccer teams, respectively. Jodie was a four-year letterwinner from 2000-03, earning All-America and Co-Big West Pitcher of the Year honors as a senior and standing among the program's best in numerous categories. Kellie, a four-time All-Big West performer, was named the Big West's Midfielder of the Year in 2004 and the league's Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2005 after helping the Titans to the best season in the program's history.
CLASS ACT: Cal State Fullerton's incoming class for the 2007 season was ranked among the nation's top 100 teams (No. 89) for the second-straight season according to Soccer Buzz and among the West Region's top 25 (No. 21). The Titans have been listed among the nation's best recruiting classes in five of the last six years - posting their highest ranking in 2002 with the No. 22-ranked class in the country - and have been among the region's best recruiting programs for each of the last six years.
IN GOAL...: For the first time in three seasons, the Titans' will have a question mark in net with the departure of Goalkeeper of the Year Karen Bardsley. Junior Shayla Sabin, who sat out all of last year, senior Kerri Ward, who has seen only 21 minutes in net in two seasons with the Titans, and freshman Shannon Simpson will all battle it out for the starting spot.
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Almost two-thirds of the players on the roster are underclassmen (22 of 36), and over half of those underclassmen will be taking the pitch competitively at the Division I level for the first time in 2007.
THREE IN A ROW?: Cal State Fullerton will be looking for its third straight Big West Conference Tournament championship in 2007, trying to become the first school in the history of the conference to do so. The Titans, who took home the trophy for the first time in 2005 and repeated in 2006, and Cal Poly (2003 & 2004) are the only two programs who have won back-to-back conference tournament titles in the history of the event.
SUCCESS AFTER THE TITANS: Former Cal State Fullerton starts Karen Bardsley, Kandace Wilson, and Erica Janke have all seen significant success after their Titan careers. Bardsley and Wilson helped Ajax America of the Women's Premier Soccer League to the league's "Final Four" and an Open Cup title at the 2007 USASA National Cup Finals in Seattle, Wash., this past summer. Janke, meanwhile, has taken the longest trip of any Titan, signing on with FC Gutersloh of the German 2nd Bundesliga. Fans can follow her travels with the team through her online blog set up by the club at http://blog.fcg-frauen.de/.