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Courtesy: Torrey Vail

Gonzaga Men's Soccer Faces Challenging Schedule This Fall

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 06/15/2012
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            SPOKANE, Wash. - A challenging 2012 schedule faces the Gonzaga University men's soccer team, including three NCAA Tournament teams from 2011 that dot this year's schedule.

            The Bulldogs open the regular season at the University of Washington Aug. 24 and make their regular-season home debut two days later when Seattle University visits the Gonzaga Soccer Field for a 3 p.m. kickoff.

            The Bulldogs will host the Gonzaga Nike Classic Aug. 31-Sept. 2 as UC Santa Barbara, Manhattan College and Oregon State University invade Gonzaga Soccer Field. OSU will face USCB Friday at 1 p.m. followed by the Zags and Manhattan at 4 p.m. Sunday's slate has OSU meeting Manhattan at 11 a.m. followed by Gonzaga and UCSB at 2 p.m.

            UCSB is one of the three NCAA Tournament clubs on the schedule, joining fellow Big West Conference foe UC Irvine and defending West Coast Conference champion Saint Mary's College on the Bulldogs schedule. Gonzaga will face UC Irvine on the first day of the Oregon State Hensor/Zaher Nike Classic in Corvallis, Ore., and face Saint Mary's Oct. 12 at home and Oct. 26 in Moraga, Calif.

            Irvine (6-3-1) and Santa Barbara (6-4-0) finished one-two, respectively in the Big West regular season. The teams met in the Big West Tournament title game, UCI downing UCSB 3-2 in double overtime to give the Anteaters a No. 8 national seed into the NCAA Tournament. UCSB earned a No. 15 seed. Irvine advanced to the second round, losing to Saint Mary's 2-1 while UCSB lost in the third round to host and No. 2 national seed Creighton University 2-1. UCI finished 16-5-1 overall with UCSB posted a 15-6-1 mark.

            With seven seniors dotting the roster a year ago, SMC went 11-7-5 overall and 7-3-2 in the WCC to claim the regular-season title by one point over Santa Clara University. The Gaels advanced to the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, losing to eventual national champion and No. 1 seed University of North Carolina 1-0.

            "Washington is always a tough regional opponent and will be a good tell-tale game for us to kick off the season," early in the season," head coach Einar Thorarinsson said as he readies to embark upon his 17th season at Gonzaga. "Oregon State (who the Bulldogs play on the road Sept. 15), is always tough at home and Santa Barbara and Irvine will be strong non-conference teams.

            The Bulldogs open WCC play Sept. 26 at Pacific Northwest rival University of Portland, and make their WCC home debut Sept. 30 against the University of San Francisco.

            With just three true seniors on last year's team, Thorarinsson is excited about last year's group of freshmen who will be sophomores this year.

            "Zach (Hamer), Nate (Nathanael Pacheco) and Clark (Phillips) have a year under their belt," Thorarinsson said. "We'll have to integrate a lot of new players into the team, but we have six or seven players coming in who could help us right away."

            Phillips paced the Bulldogs in scoring a year ago with 4 goals, 3 assists and 11 points. Pacheco tied for second in scoring with a pair of goals, 2 assist and 6 points while Hamer was right behind with a goal and 2 assists for 4 points.

            Thorarinsson said Loyola Marymount University should be the team to beat this year in the WCC, the Zags heading to LMU Oct. 5 and hosting the Lions Nov. 4.

            "Saint Mary's had a great run last year, and I anticipate them to contend again this year," Thorarinsson said of the defending WCC champions.

2012 GONZAGA MEN'S SOCCER SCHEDULE

            AUGUST

            18 - Trinity Western (exhib.), 1 p.m.; 24 - Washington, TBA; 26 - Seattle, 3 p.m.; 31 - Manhattan (Gonzaga Nike Classic), 4 p.m.

            SEPTEMBER

            2 - UC Santa Barbara (Gonzaga Nike Classic), 2 p.m.; 15 - Oregon State, 1 p.m.; 21 - UC Irvine (Hensor/Zaher Nike Classic, Corvallis, OR), 2 p.m.; 23 - UW-Green Bay (Hensor/Zaher Nike Classic, Corvallis, OR), TBA; 26 - *Portland, 7 p.m.; 30 - *San Francisco, 2 p.m.

            OCTOBER

            5 - *Loyola Marymount, 3 p.m.; 7 - *San Diego, 1 p.m.; 12 - *Saint Mary's, 3 p.m. 14 - *Santa Clara, 2 p.m.; 26 - *Saint Mary's, 4 p.m.; 28 - *Santa Clara, 2 p.m.

            NOVEMBER

            2 - *San Diego, 2 p.m.; 4 - *Loyola Marymount, Noon; 7 - *Portland, 2 p.m.; 9 - *San Francisco, 7 p.m.

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