SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After a week of training the Sacramento State men's soccer team will continue its preparation for the 2014 season with an exhibition game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Pacific. The match will be the lone exhibition contest for the Hornets before they open the regular season on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Temple.
The Hornets return seven starters from last season, including 2013 Big West all-Freshman team defender Andrew Gosselin. Three senior starters return in forwards Chimdum Mez and Adan Martinez and defender Mason McCann, and eight sophomores return after seeing significant action in their rookie seasons.
Alongside McCann, sophomore defenders Gosselin, Preston Davis, and Javier Muñoz return as the entire starting back line from a year ago, a unit that helped hold opposition to just 1.5 goals per game and recorded five shutouts. The Hornets will have to replace all-Big West goalkeeper Cesar Castillo, with young keepers Teddy Sampson, James Del Curto, and Philip Bru vying from time in net.
Gosselin and Mez are the only Hornet returners that scored goals last season, with each tallying two scores. Mez also had three assists while sophomore midfielder Ivan Ramirez had two helpers in 2013. Among the eight newcomers to the Hornet roster, six can play in the midfield or at forward as the squad looks to up its scoring punch and help replace graduated seniors Isaac Ikyurav and Almog Strikowski.
Pacific reinstated men's soccer this year after the program had been dormant since 1985. Three Tigers players came from the school's club team but the rest of the roster is new to the university, with 14 freshmen and no seniors among the team's 23 players. The squad played its first game in 29 years on Wednesday, beating Dominican 2-1 in double overtime in its first exhibition game.
Also on Thursday, the Big West released its preseason coaches' poll and Sacramento State was picked fourth in the North Division. UC Santa Barbara, ranked 18th in the preseason NSCAA poll, was unanimously picked to win the Big West North Division followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly, and the Hornets.
In the South Division, defending Big West champion UC Irvine was picked first, narrowly edging CSUN, with UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton picked third and fourth, respectively. CSUN and UC Irvine are also nationally ranked in the preseason NSCAA poll
The Hornets will play each of their three North Division foes twice during the 2014 season with one contest against each West Division team. The top three teams in each division will advance to the Big West Tournament.