While an 0-2 start isn’t ideal, Fresno State soccer coach Brian Zwaschka is using the first couple of weeks of the 2016 season to perfect his lineup heading into the Mountain West Conference portion of its schedule.
“We want to win these games, yeah,” Zwaschka said, “but at the same time we want to try some things out and make sure the players we brought in contribute and see who’s up for it.”
The Bulldogs opened Friday by dropping a double-overtime thriller to UC Santa Barbara in front of 1,067 fans at the Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium. The Bulldogs scored two goals in the second half to tie it, but fell 3-2. Sunday, Fresno State lost 4-2 at Cal State Bakersfield.
But with nine starters and seven reserves back from last year and 10 newcomers brought on during the offseason, there are plenty of moving parts.
“The combination of the quality of returners that we have and the newcomers is making it very competitive,” Zwaschka said. “It’s a great situation for a coach to have to make choices where the margin (in skill) is a lot smaller.”
Key veterans include forward Myra Delgadillo, who scored twice in the loss to the Roadrunners, and junior Maria Gomez and senior Alyssa Holsworth in the midfield.
Notable newcomers are freshman forward Julia Glaser (Lörrach, Germany), defender Anna Crawford (transfer from Oklahoma) and midfielder and Clovis West grad Kayla Calmes.
The Bulldogs have a joint meet-and-greet session with the football team at 6 p.m. Thursday at Campus Pointe ahead of hosting No. 20 Pepperdine at 7 p.m. Friday.
Sunbirds – All eyes in the PacWest men’s race are focused on Fresno Pacific, voted to repeat as champions in a poll of conference coaches.
The Sunbirds, who open Sept. 1 at Stanislaus State, enter the season ranked No. 22 nationally after winning their second conference title in three seasons and securing the school’s first NCAA D-II playoff berth.
Fresno Pacific’s men’s soccer team outscored opponents 59-25 while going 14-3-2 and reaching the NCAA Division II regionals in 2015.
Senior Jorge Chedraui, who scored 13 goals last season while earning his third All-PacWest honor, was named conference Preseason Player of the Year. Fellow seniors Joey Belzil and Benjamin Cowdrill also are on the preseason all-conference team.
▪ The Sunbirds’ women, who spent a week training in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the month, were picked sixth in the PacWest preseason poll. Junior Mariah Montoya and senior Alyssa Nakaguchi were named to the all-preseason team ahead of a 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 season and home opener against Stanislaus State.
JC news – Clovis Community’s new men’s and women’s teams saw their first live action Tuesday, scrimmaging the Premier Development League Fresno Fuego and Women’s Premier Soccer League Fresno Freeze.
The Crush men open the regular season Friday at the Lake Tahoe Showcase, where they will play three games through Sunday. The women debut Saturday at Sierra.
Both play their home openers Sept. 6 as part of a doubleheader against Siskiyous.
▪ Fresno City’s men open Friday against Contra Costa in Lake Tahoe. The Rams, 13-5-4 a year ago, will debut at home Sept. 9 against Canyons. The Rams’ women, looking to reclaim the Central Valley Conference throne after being knocked off for the first time in nine seasons by Taft, host American River at 6 p.m. Friday.
Outside the Valley – A string of athletes who prepped in the Fresno area are making progress on the NCAA pitch.
Ex-Buchanan High standout Caitlyn Kreutz is one of Cal Poly’s top returners after scoring a team-high seven goals, including two-game winners, as a freshman.
She’ll hope to help make up for the loss of fellow Bears alum Elise Kreighoff, a four-time All-Big West selection whose 52 goals in four seasons set a program record.
Kreutz, The Bee’s 2015 Girls Soccer Player of the Year, spent part of the summer playing with the Philippines national team at the Southeast Asian Nations Football Federation Championship.
“I think (Kreutz) is going to have a much better year,” Cal Poly coach Alex Crozier told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “There were a lot of learning moments for her last year because everything was different. I think she kind of has an idea of what we’re looking for.”
Kreutz got off to a good start, scoring a goal in a 2-0 win over the University of the Pacific last week.
▪ At Southern Oregon, former Edison standout Michael Miller scored in a Tuesday exhibition against Humboldt State. In the university’s season preview, Miller is said to have a chance to “enter the rotation after scoring 20 goals as a senior last year at Edison.” The Raiders, a second-year program that plays in the NAIA’s Cascade Collegiate Conference, open Sunday at Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash.
Hord turns pro– Former Fresno Fuego player and Bullard graduate Elliott Hord has signed a pro contract with Sacramento Republic FC.
Hord, who also played at UC Davis, joins Fuego teammate Christian Chaney on the Republic roster for the remainder of the 2016 USL season. Republic shares the Western Conference lead at 11-6-7. After facing Orange County Blues on the road Wednesday, Republic hosts fellow front-runner Vancouver Whitecaps 2 on Saturday.
Neither Chaney nor Hord were on the match-day roster Saturday in a 4-0 win over a Portland Timbers 2 team that features Clovis North grad Villyan Bijev. Bijev has three goals and a team-high six assists in 23 appearances for Portland.
Meet The Teams
- Who: Fresno State football and soccer players
- When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday
- Where: Campus Pointe
- Details: KFIG (AM 940) will broadcast live from 4-7 p.m., with players available to meet with fans and sign autographs from 6-7:15 p.m. … Fresno State’s band, cheerleaders and mascot Time-Out also will be on hand. … Raffles and ticket deals plus discounts at the shopping center’s restaurants and retailers will be offered.