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Men's Soccer



SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team opens up its 2012 regular season at 7 p.m. on Friday at Pac-12 conference member Oregon State.

Head coach Michael Linenberger, in his 24th season, will guide the Hornets into the Big West Conference this season but first Linenberger and the Hornets must square off with eight non-conference foes.

Sacramento State begins its 2012 campaign on the road but returns for three-straight home games. After playing at Oregon State on Friday, the Hornets host San Diego on Aug. 31, Saint Mary's on Sept. 2 and Seattle U on Sept. 5.

Live stats will be available for the game, via the Gametracker link HERE.

The Hornets went 1-1 in exhibition play, with a 3-0 loss at Stanford and a 1-0 win at Cal. Cal was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 this year while Oregon State was chosen last. While this year's roster features 11 newcomers and three returning redshirts, Sacramento State's starting 11 will be littered with experience and upperclassmen. The defense and midfield returns two starters each while forward Max Alvarez is back at the top line. But beyond the returning starters, veteran reserves Oscar Torrico, Isaac Ikyurav, Isaac Flores, Chris Sandoval and Almog Strikowski have combined to play in 86 career games and will get a chance to expand their roles this year. Goalkeepers Cesar Castillo and Bryan Oliver saw equal minutes last season and bring 61 combined career starts and sub 1.20 goals against averages into 2012.

Oregon State posted a 1-1 record in exhibition play this year. The Beavers lost 2-1 to the MLS Portland Timbers reserve squad and rebounded with a 3-1 win over Simon Fraser last weekend. Senior forward Emery Welshman led the team with three points on an assist and a goal against SFU. Welshman led Oregon State with both 13 points and seven assists last season. Roberto Farfan, who also scored against Simon Fraser, tied for the team lead with four goals in 2011. Oregon State went 5-11-2 last year, including a road win against the Hornets.

Oregon State and Sacramento State have a long history in men's soccer. The two teams were Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference foes in the 1990s. The two teams have met 16 times since the Hornets moved to Div. I in 1991. Sacramento State is 3-11-2 all-time in those matches with one of those wins coming in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State has won three straight in the series (2006, 2007, 2011). 

Oregon State ended Sacramento State's school-record 23 match unbeaten streak with a 4-3 win at Hornet Field on Sept. 11, 2011. The game was tied up, 1-1, at halftime before the Beavers took a 3-1 lead after scoring twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Hornets chipped away at the lead with a goal in the 74th minute and then-senior Chris Bettencourt tied the game with a blast in the 84th minute. The tie was short-lived, however, as Oregon State's Alex Ekerson, now a junior in 2012, scored the game-winning goal less than a minute later.

Sacramento State will compete in the Big West Conference in 2012 after spending 20 years in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Hornets are in the North Division with UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and rival UC Davis. The South Division is made up of UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton. The top two teams from each division will advance to the Big West Conference Tournament.

Junior forward Isaac Ikyurav, a native of Benue, Nigeria, scored the game's lone goal in a 1-0 exhibition win at Cal last weekend. Ikyurav, who tallied three goals and one assist last year, his first season with the Hornets, had a game-high four shots against the Golden Bears. Ikyurav appeared in 12 games and played 320 minutes last year but will see an expanded role this season.

The Hornets had five players compete in the Premier Development League this summer. Midfielders Alex Lopez and Gabe Silveira played in Des Moines, Iowa, while fellow seniors Max Alvarez and Matt Linenberger competed in Tucson, Ariz. Goalkeeper Cesar Castillo played with Orange County. The PDL is the top amatuer soccer league in North America with 73 teams in nine divisions in the United States, Canada and Bermuda.

The Sacramento State men's soccer team will have one captain in 2012. Senior midfielder Alex Lopez was named team captain this season. The Orange, Calif., native transfered to Sacramento State from Vangaurd University prior to the 2011 season and was a second team all-MPSF choice last season after tallying two assists while making 11 starts.

Junior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo was recognized by the league's coaches as a preseason second team all-Big West selection. He was the lone Sacramento State player to be named first or second team by the league. As a team, the Hornets were picked to finish last in the four-team North Division. UC Santa Barbara was picked to finish first in the division, followed by Cal Poly and UC Davis.

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