MORAGA, Calif. -- One of the most evenly-matched Bay Area men's soccer rivalries resumes Sunday when Saint Mary's travels to Spartan Stadium to face San Jose State.
The match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff and will be streamed live on the Internet. Links will be made available on SMCGaels.com on matchday. Tickets are available in advance by calling the SJSU Athletic Ticket Office at (408) 924-7589 or by clicking here.
Saint Mary's enters Sunday's match with a 2-4-1 record after dropping a pair of games last weekend at the Lakeside Classic in Evanston, Ill. The Gaels fell 3-0 to then 16th-ranked Northwestern on Friday, then narrowly missed completing a second-half comeback in a 2-1 loss to Northern Illinois on Sunday.
The Gaels opened the season with a pair of wins over Air Force and LIU Brooklyn before suffering a 2-1 road setback at then 25th-ranked CSU Northridge (the Matadors are ranked sixth nationally this week, while Northwestern improved to seventh).
"For the most part, we've been playing good soccer," said SMC head coach Adam Cooper. "We have a couple of issues we need to solve, but I don't think they will that difficult to resolve. As long as we can keep working hard, moving forward and making progress, I think we are going to be okay."
Redshirt freshman Carlo Eikani is the team's scoring leader after scoring a pair of goals on the opening weekend of the season. Six different Gaels have scored a goal this season, four of which are either freshmen or sophomores. Junior Bobby Conner and sophomore Jake Stenberg, the goal scorer against NIU, were named to the all-tournament team at the Lakeside Classic.
San Jose State is 0-6-1 on the season, but five of the Spartans' matches so far have been decided by just one goal. In its last two outings, SJSU dropped 1-0 decisions to Santa Clara and Oregon State.
"Anytime you see a team that has a lot of one-goal decisions in their results, you know they are good. It is just a matter of the bounce of the ball. At some point, for them, you have to believe the ball will bounce their way. I just hope it isn't Sunday against us."
Saint Mary's and the Spartans have met 27 times since the first meeting in 1978, the Gaels' first season of intercollegiate soccer. San Jose State won the first six matchups before the Gaels' finally broke through with a 3-2 home victory in 1984. Since then, the series record between the two schools stands at 10-10-1 with the only tie coming in a scoreless draw last season at Saint Mary's Stadium.
To further illustrate how even the series has been, only twice since 1992 has the margin of victory been more than one goal.
"Our games with San Jose State are always difficult," said Cooper, who owns a 2-1-1 record against the Spartans as a head coach. "The games are always a battle. They are always physical. It is a tough stadium to play at because it is turf and the walls are really close to the sidelines. So, it is a difficult environment. Our games are always battles with them."
Following Sunday's match, Saint Mary's returns home to open West Coast Conference play against its Pacific Northwest rivals. The Gaels host Gonzaga on Friday, Oct. 4 at 4 p.m., then welcome Portland to Saint Mary's Stadium for a 2 p.m. match on Sunday, Oct. 6. Tickets are available by calling the SMC Athletic Ticket Office at (925) 631-GoTx (4689) or by visiting the tickets link on SMCGaels.com.