LA JOLLA, Calif. - Thursday's 7 p.m. match against Dominican
marks the start of the 2010 campaign for the UC San Diego men's soccer team.
After a successful spring season, the Tritons are expecting to turn the positive
signs into real results when the games begin to count.
Returning seven of the 11 starters from 2009, UCSD will be looking for immediate contributions from some of its incoming players. Although there are 11 student-athletes new to the Triton roster, several key components from last year are returning, including senior defender Jared Kukura. A local product out of University City High school, Kukura has appeared in every match since stepping on the La Jolla campus.
After hosting Dominican on Thursday and Notre Dame
de Namur on Saturday, Kukura and the Tritons will begin conference play on
Sept. 10 with a home match against No. 12 Cal State L.A. Two days later, UCSD
challenges No. 6 Cal State Dominguez Hills. Those two games against the
heavyweights of the California Collegiate Athletic Association South Division
will be a quick test of how much ground the Tritons, led by third-year head
coach Jon Pascale, have gained since last fall.
In 2009, UCSD finished at 7-9-4 overall and 4-9-3 in the CCAA, putting them in fifth place within the league's South Division. The preseason poll of the conference's coaches put the Tritons in fifth again for 2010. With three of the six teams in the South ranked nationally within the top 25, UCSD will have a perfect opportunity to upset the league's power balance in the opening weekend against CSULA and CSUDH.
For now though, the Tritons' focus is on Thursday's contest with Dominican. Playing out of the Pacific West Conference, the Penguins went 8-11-1 overall last season. Jonathan Delano, entering his second season as head coach of the Dominican men's soccer team, will count on junior Pedro Guevara to lead the squad's attack after the Santa Rosa native tallied seven goals and four assists in 2009. Thursday's match will be the first-ever between the Tritons and Penguins.
On Saturday, UCSD will challenge Notre Dame de Namur at 4:30 p.m. on Triton Soccer Field. NDNU put together an impressive 2009 campaign, going 10-2-2 in the PacWest. Early in 2009, during the Seawolf Classic held at Sonoma State, the Tritons defeated NDNU 2-1 in overtime behind a two-goal effort from midfielder Shane Micheil. Facing a 1-0 deficit, UCSD rallied for an impressive comeback win after Micheil scored in the 88th and 100th minutes. That marked the first meeting with the Argonauts in program history.