Aug. 23, 2007
FULLERTON, CA - Coming off of its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team opens its 2007 campaign on Saturday evening (August 25) as the Titans welcome Biola for an exhibition contest. Kickoff at Titan Stadium is scheduled for 7 pm.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: The Titans will open their regular season next weekend as one of four teams at the UNLV Invitational. The Titans will meet the host Rebels on Friday night (Aug. 31) in a rematch of their 2005 NCAA Tournament first-round match before Fullerton takes on Idaho State on Sunday (Sept. 2). Pacific-10 Conference power Arizona State will also be competing in the tournament.
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.
SERIES RECORDS: Although Saturday's contest will not count in the overall record for the Titans, they do have a leg-up in the series with the Eagles, winning 3-0 on Oct. 18, 2000, at Titan Stadium in the only meeting between the two schools.
ABOUT THE EAGLES: Biola, an NAIA school located in nearby La Mirada, Calif., finished its 2006 season with a 7-6-3 overall record and a 3-5-2 Golden State Athletic Conference mark to finish eighth. Leading scorer and All-GSAC selection Brandi Johannsen returns to pace the Eagles' offense after scoring three goals and assisting on five others as a junior in 2006. The Eagles will have to do without graduated all-conference goalkeeper Keri Schulz, who started all 16 matches with 90 saves, five shutouts, and a 1.46 goals against average.
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.
SCHEDULE LOADED WITH TOURNEY TEAMS: An ambition non-conference schedule in Head Coach Demian Brown's first year should definately help the Titans prior to the start of Big West play. Fullerton is scheduled to meet six NCAA Tournament teams this season - including four of its five opponents and three straight to open the season. UNLV, Idaho State, Santa Clara and Loyola Marymount all qualified for the tournament before falling in the first round, California advanced to the second round, while two-time national champion Portland was a national quarterfinalist.
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.
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.
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.
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/.