The men’s club soccer team looked to continue last year’s success last weekend, opening up the season in the highly touted and prestigious San Diego Aztec Cup. As the defending Aztec tournament – and national – champions, the team was favored to win and played like it. The Gauchos (3-0-1) scored four goals, were unbeaten, and did not even relinquish a single goal in the tournament. And they did all this against the likes of club soccer powerhouses USC, Colorado State, Arizona and Weber State. Colorado State was an especially formidable opponent as it] went 12-1 last year and boasted 12 returning seniors. Arizona is the only team the Gauchos did not defeat, but they kept the Wildcats scoreless thanks to the impressive goalkeeping of sophomore Chris Harris.
After their national title victory in Florida last year and their impressive debut this weekend, the Gauchos are ensured a number one national ranking once the standings are released. Expectations are high this year and anything short of a championship will leave the men who don the blue and gold disappointed. The Gauchos only graduated four seniors from last year’s national championship squad, but losing their star keeper did create a big void. However, junior Joel Katz and Harris have filled in at keeper quite well, having not relinquished a single goal on the young season.
Katz said he expects to battle for the championship this year.
“Coming off the national title, we expect to win league again, and another national championship,” he said.
The bar has been set high for the Gauchos, as success has been the norm for years. The club team has six consecutive California Collegiate Cup Soccer league championships on top of many national tournament appearances. In 2006, they won their regional tournament to qualify for the national tournament and even made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the nationals before losing to the University of San Diego. And, of course, they won the national title last year.
The Gauchos’ next game is this Saturday at home against their toughest rival in the CCCSL, UC Davis. The Aggies are only CCCSL team to score against the Gauchos all of last year and the Gauchos have been eager for this match. The Gauchos look to keep their shutout streak alive and more importantly, their unbeaten record.
“Obviously, we could not look past the Aztec tournament, but we were always looking at this game,” said Katz. “Davis is our biggest rival and, this year we want to shut them out.” Without a doubt, this is the Gauchos’ biggest regular season game of the year. This game is not only special due to the fierce rivalry, but also because it is their first home game of the year and there will be a celebration to commemorate their National Championship season last year. The game will be held at Harder Stadium this Saturday at 7 p.m.