Soccer faces San Diego in season opener

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    By Kirstin Starr

    And so it begins. Another season and another chance at a title.

    BYU men?s soccer opens its regular season today against the San Diego Gauchos and plays again Saturday in a game against the Southern California Seahorses.

    Matt Affleck, the team?s offensive captain, said Coach Chris Watkins is having the team work on attacking the opponent one-on-one and taking the ball.

    ?He wants to see who is going to step up to their man and see who is going to step up for the team and really lead the team,? Affleck said.

    As for the offense, Watkins is working them on going to their man, turning the ball, and beating their man without losing the ball.

    On May 7, the team played a friendly against some of the old Utah Blitzz soccer team players.

    The game was more just for practice.

    ?We didn?t play our best,? Affleck said.

    Although BYU lost, they learned from the game.

    Defender Hugh VanWagenen said they missed some early chances and the Blitzz capitalized on that.

    Those misses allowed the Blitzz to jump on top early, grab the momentum and take charge of the game.

    ?We need to establish an early presence and come out flying,? VanWagenen said. ?Come out flying and get a win.?

    VanWagenen said Watkins held back the two center defenders to prevent breakaways and pushed the outside fullbacks forward to get them involved in the team?s attacking game.

    These tactics seemed to work, so the team plans to try them again this weekend, VanWagenen said.

    The first three games, including the two this weekend, are important to BYU because if the win all three, they will receive an invitation to The U.S. Open Cup.

    This tournament invites teams from the Professional Development League, the league BYU is in, and higher leagues. If BYU is invited, they could play against Major League Soccer teams.

    The team is flying to California on Thursday in order to get some practice time in California before the games begin.

    BYU has only played the Gauchos once before. It was last year?s home season opener, and the Cougars lost 1-0.

    The Seahorses ended last season with a 1-1 record against BYU.

    ?We?ve never beat them in California, so we are really looking forward to that,? Affleck said.

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