Titans Look to Learn Some Lessons

With four games left this season, the Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team is looking to finish strong beginning tonight as they make a cross-county excursion to Irvine where they will face the nationally ranked No. 28 UC Irvine Anteaters.

CSUF (5-9-1, 1-5-0 Big West) fell 3-2 in overtime to the Anteaters (10-3-3, 4-2-1 Big West) earlier this season.

The Anteaters are entering the match with an 8-0-4 record over CSUF since Oct. 24, 1999.

"Last time we just got out-desired, out-worked a little bit," Titan goalkeeper Kevin Puder said of the Sept. 27 match.

Puder will be inactive tonight with a re-aggravated shoulder injury that he suffered earlier in the season.

The Anteaters will enter tonight's game with defender Matt Murphy, who leads his team and the Big West in scoring with nine goals and 23 points.

They also have senior goal keeper Kenny Schoeni, who had seven saves, two shutouts and was named Big West Player of the Week.

With CSUF sitting at the bottom of the Big West rankings and second-place UCI battling UC Santa Barbara for the No. 1 spot, tonight's match is important for both teams.

"I expect them to play as they do any other time, even when they're

not striving for the playoffs," Titan Head Coach Bob Ammann said. "It's an inter-county rivalry. We've been the big dog in the county for years, going back to the '80s and '90s. Now they've had the better hand for the last few years so obviously they're going to come very motivated. They need these three points badly. Our objective is not only to get the result, but to win the inter-county rivalry."

The Titans' goal beyond tonight's game is to finish strong and to get an overall record of 9-9-1.

"It's important to reach that .500 mark at least," Puder said. "I think it'll do a lot for us to win [tonight]. It's going to be a big game. It'll set the pace for the rest of the games, but it's also important for going into next year as well."

Although UCI is nationally ranked and among the top teams in the Big West standings, UCI Head Coach George Kuntz said in a phone interview that "all of the teams are very good" and "Cal State Fullerton is a very good team."

The Titans will continue their road trip with a match against the Cal State Northridge Matadors on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

With 12 points, CSUN is another team fighting for position in the Big West standings as they trail second-place UCI by one point and conference leaders UCSB by three points.

The Matadors (5-5-5, 3-1-3 Big West) have been struggling to gain ground in the Big West race as they have been winless in their last three matches.

The Titans are currently on a season-high three-game losing streak with recent losses to UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Although CSUF is looking up at the rest of the teams in the Big West standings, the team continues to have high spirits and thinks it is no different than any of their opponents, Ammann said.

"I think we're the best last place team in the country," Ammann said. "Anyone who plays us, we're looking forward to it. I don't think they come in anticipating an easy win."