It may not take too long to learn if this will prove to be a very special men's soccer season for Seattle Pacific University. The school's Falcons have eight starters returning from a squad that went 11-6-2. However, their first six games are on the road. Following last Saturday's exhibition match at Wahington State University, SPU travels to Southern California to face perennial power and No. 9-ranked Cal State Dominguez Hills for the first regular-season game Aug. 30 at the Far West Classic. Then Seattle Pacific plays longtime rival Chico State in Carson, Calif., on Labor Day, Sept. 1.
A sidebar to this entire season will be the ongoing race between Seattle Pacific coach Cliff McCrath and Joe Bean, coach of Wheaton College (McCrath's alma mater), to become college soccer's all-time career leader in victories. McCrath and Bean finished last season with 541 wins each.
Certainly there is sufficient talent to end SPU's longest postseason drought in more than 30 years. Among the key returnees are top scorer Jeremy Yerkes (junior), all-region midfielder Brent Egbert (senior), midfielder Michael Brkich (junior) and forwards Nick Letts and David Smith (both sophomores). Along the back are Ross Vaillancourt (sophomore) and two-year starters Matt Laughlin (senior) and goalie James Ward (junior).
This season's schedule is front-loaded in terms of road games. Following the tournament at Dominguez Hills and another at Bakersfield, SPU plays at Humboldt State on Sept. 11. Aside from a mid-October tournament in Phoenix, the rest of the games are in the Pacific Northwest, including a five-game home stand to wrap up the season.