CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTEBOOK / SCOTT MILLER : Soccer Team Cracks Top 10 for First Time
Spirits soared even higher in the Cal State Fullerton soccer offices with one phone call on Tuesday: The undefeated Titan men’s team is ranked fourth nationally in this week’s Intercollegiate Soccer Assn. of America Coaches’ poll.
The Titans also rose to seventh this week in the Soccer America rankings.
It’s the first time the Titan soccer team has reached the top 10.
“I think it is well deserved and a long time in coming,” Coach Al Mistri said. “We have a history of decent teams, but sometimes the victories we have had came at the wrong times.
“Everything is falling into place. The guys are playing good ball.”
The Titans are 4-0 with three victories over top-20 teams--North Carolina, Washington and Fresno State. Goalkeeper Mike Ammann has given up only three goals in four games, compiling two shutouts and 11 saves. On Tuesday, Ammann was selected Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s Pacific Division soccer player of the week.
“Kenny Hesse, our sweeper, has been a very steady influence and Paul McDonnell probably had the best game of his career against Washington (in a 3-1 victory Saturday) as a defender,” Mistri said.
The Titans make their first trip of the season this week, at Cal (Friday) and at Cal Poly SLO (Sunday).
After a promising day last weekend in which the Fullerton men’s cross-country team came in third and the women took fifth in the Titan-hosted Jammin’ Invitational, they get this weekend off.
While many other college cross-country teams prepare for another meet, Titan runners will be left to their own devices.
It is part of Coach John Elders’ new strategy.
Last year, the Titan men faded big-time toward season’s end.
At midseason, other Big West coaches couldn’t compliment Elders and his team enough. During a tri-meet at that time, the Titans swept Utah State, taking the top five places. Utah State ended up winning the conference and Fullerton wound up third.
No more, Elders promised.
“We were burned out last year,” Elders said. “What I’ve done this year is schedule fewer meets, especially early. Last year, we ran on the first three weekends.
“This year, we have only one back-to-back weekend. I’m keeping them a little more rested and, hopefully, we’ll peak late in the season.”
The men have finished third in the Big West for two consecutive seasons, so Saturday’s third-place finish--behind Big West foes Utah State and UC Santa Barbara--was as comfortable as an Andy Griffith Show rerun. Elders, though, figures things can change at this year’s conference meet, which the Titans play host to on Oct. 30.
Senior Mike Tansley, the defending Big West champion, ran second overall on Saturday, covering the five-mile course in 24:26. Senior Brian Johnson was sixth in 25:30 and Andrew Tansley, Mike’s twin brother, was 12th in 25:47.
“I thought they ran great,” Elders said. “I was really pleased with them.”
As for the women’s cross-country team, the Titans need to become acquainted with the word “balance.”
Heather Killeen, second in the Big West last year, won Saturday’s meet, covering the three-mile course in 17:43.
But Elders could have had his dry-cleaning done before another Titan was sighted. Eva Orozco finally chugged across the finish line in 19:52, taking 30th place, and Tania Nahale was 35th in 20:08.
“We have to close the gap between Heather and the Nos. 2 and 3 girls,” Elders said. “That’s the main thing we need to accomplish.”
The men and women won’t compete again until Sept. 25, when they travel to UCSB for a tri-meet with the Gauchos and Westmont College.
Fullerton officials are hoping to learn by the end of this month whether they will play host to a World Cup team next summer as preparation begins for the soccer event.
World Cup officials visited the campus on Aug. 10 to assess the facilities.
“It would be like the Rams’ fall camp,” said Sal Rinella, Fullerton’s vice president for administration. “This would be the location for a team that will be competing in the World Cup to prepare. They are currently identifying cities (and sites) that are high-enough quality to accommodate World Cup teams.”
Rinella said it is his understanding that World Cup officials are scouting 11 or 12 sites in this area and will select five or six.
Until the sites are selected and the teams identified, Fullerton has no idea which country’s team would use its facility. They do know the time frame, however: June and the first half of July, 1994.
Really, when you think clearly and read the statistics closely, what is Fullerton really missing by not having football?
Big West football, after all, is not exactly a textbook definition of the way the game is supposed to be played. Check out these numbers from college football’s first two weekends:
Big West teams are 3-16 overall, but that includes two in-conference victories. In non-Big West games, conference teams are 1-14--including 0-8 on the first weekend.
And on that first weekend, Pacific, Arkansas State, Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois and New Mexico State were outscored, 237-33.
Who would want to be identified with this group?
The women’s volleyball team plays host to UC Santa Barbara at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and the women’s soccer team is at UCLA for a 3 p.m. game Thursday. . . . The open portion of the Jammin’ Invitational cross-country meet was won by Steve Frisone, who was the Big West 5,000-meter champion last year while running for Fullerton. Frisone, running unattached, covered the course in 24:07.