Men Finish Second Over Weekend

New players. New system. New attitude. Same result — for the moment at least.<p> The Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team opened the 2002 season over the weekend on the right track, but ominously, it is the same track of a year ago.

Downing Florida International 3-2 on Friday and playing to a scoreless tie with Boston University on Sunday kept the Titans out of the loser's column, but it wasn't enough to be named champion of the Soccer Town Men's Soccer Classic, which was held at Titan Stadium.

That honor went to UCLA, who won both their games, capping off the tournament with a 1-0 overtime win on Sunday over FIU.

The Titans opened last season in similar fashion, winning a big game against Clemson, then tying the next one against Loyola.

But head coach Al Mistri is optimistic that this season won't end up the way last years did, when the Titans finished with a record of 9-10-1, their first losing season in 14 years.

"We're going to have a good year, especially defensively," Mistri said.

Sunday's shutout proved the strength of the Titans new defense, which is in its first year of implementation. Junior goallkeeper Sam Reynolds provided some spectacular stops that brought the crowd of 874 to its feet. But he was quick to give much of the credit to his defensive help.

"Yuki Mihata, Mitch [Wagner], Spencer [McDearmon], and Jason Ashurst, they make it pretty easy," Reynolds said humbly. "I only had to save two shots."

Those two shots were at critical points in the game the Terriers began to put pressure on the defense.

"Sam saved our butts," Mistri said.

The Titans still out shot the Terriers 13-8. But Boston's goalkeeper, Matt Smith, came up with nine great saves diverting many of the Titans shots on goal in both overtimes.

Hector Orellana, who was named offensive player of the tournament for his two goals on Friday night, gave his spin on the new system and how it will affect the offense.

"We still get a lot of chances, but unfortunately tonight we weren't able to capitalize," he said.

According to Orellana, the new system relies on the defense to create opportunities for the offense.

"We focus more defensively," he said. "That makes the opposite team open up their defense a little more and then we can counter attack."

Both Orellana and Reynolds stressed that the team was in the middle of learning the system and meshing as one unit.

"It's a strong defense, and it's a new system we're playing with, so far in practice it looks great, we're just adjusting," Reynolds said.

"One of the positive things is that we got a shutout," Orellana said. "Our defense looked very strong but we're still making some mistakes and we'll work on that during the week."

The Titans have won their last five consecutive season openers, four of those coming at home.

Although there wasn't a loss over the weekend, many of the players walked off the field shaking their heads in disappointment with the final results.

"We knew we had more chances than Boston University, but we weren't lucky enough to score," Orellana said.

Titan Central Top Stories