Bulldogs will open the 2003 season with a pair of exhibition matches next weekend at Bulldog Stadium.
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Aug. 14, 2003
Fresno State vs. Yokosuka Seagulls- EXHIBITION
Date: Monday, Aug. 18
Time: 7 p.m.
Site: Fresno, Calif.
Stadium: Bulldog Stadium
LATER THIS WEEK...
Fresno State vs. Sacramento Storm- EXHIBITION
Date: Saturday, Aug. 23
Time: 5 p.m.
Site: Fresno, Calif.
Stadium: Bulldog Stadium
The Opening Kick-Off
The ninth season of Fresno State women's soccer gets underway tonight with the first of two exhibition matches scheduled for the opening week. Tonight's action at Bulldog Stadium features a doubleheader, with the Bulldogs squaring off against the Yokosuka Seagulls at 7 p.m. Prior to that contest, the Seagulls' B team will play the Elk Grove Pride of the WPSL at 4:30 p.m. Later in the week, Fresno State returns to the pitch for its second exhibition match of the week against the Sacramento Storm. The regular season begins Friday, Aug. 29, when Fresno State embarks on a two-game road trip where it will face top-25 programs UNC Charlotte and Tennessee.
Mark Your Calendars
Meet the Team festivities are scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22 at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis. Head coach Stacy Welp, her entire staff and the women's soccer team will be on hand to greet the public, hand out this year's team poster and sign autographs. Fresno State mascot Timeout and the cheerleading squad will also be on hand. Admission is free. Another special promotion takes place at the conclusion of the Aug. 23 exhibition against the Sacramento Storm, as fans are encouraged to bring a camera with them to the game and take a picture with their favorite Bulldog athlete on the field.
Quick Look Back At 2002
Fresno State completed the 2002 campaign with an overall mark of 8-13-0 and 5-3-0 ledger in the WAC. The Bulldogs started the season 2-11 after facing one of the toughest schedules in the nation, but closed out the year strong by winning six of their final eight matches. The five conference victories were the most in program history. The 'Dogs also registered a five-match winning streak, the longest since the 1999 season and best in head coach Stacy Welp's tenure.
Similiarities To 2001
The 2002 campaign ended much like the previous season. The 2001 Bulldogs also finished with eight victories, but went just 4-4 in the WAC compared to the 5-3 mark that was achieved last year. In addition, the previous two seasons have featured identical postseason results. Fresno State defeated Tulsa in the first round of the WAC Tournament in 2001 by a 3-2 count and blanked the Golden Hurricane 4-0 in 2002. However, the semifinals proved to be a tougher challenge. The 'Dogs were shutout 4-0 by SMU in 2001 and fell to the Mustangs again in the same round last year, losing 2-1 in double-overtime.
Bulldogs Picked Third Overall In Preseason Poll
The league's head coaches have also taken notice of Fresno State's opportunity for a breakthrough season in 2003. The Bulldogs tallied 49 points and have been picked to finish third in the 2003 WAC preseason poll, trailing top-ranked SMU and Hawai'i. In comparison, Fresno State was tabbed to finish fourth in last year's preseason poll along with Boise State.
Rank/Team Points 2002 WAC Record (Finish)
1. SMU (7) 63 6-1-1 (1st)
2. Hawai'i (1) 50 6-2-0 (T-2nd)
3. Fresno State 49 5-3-0 (5th)
4. UTEP 45 6-2-0 (T-2nd)
5. Tulsa (1) 35 4-2-2 (4th)
6. Rice 34 3-5-0 (6th)
7. Boise State 19 1-7-0 (9th)
8. San Jose St. 18 1-5-2 (7th)
9. Nevada 10 1-6-1 (8th)
***First-place votes in parantheses
Nokso-Koivisto Named Preseason All-WAC
In addition to the Bulldog's climb up the WAC polls, sophomore forward Katri Nokso-Koivisto was named to the 2003 Preseason All-WAC team, as selected by the league's nine coaches. Nokso-Koivisto, the only Fresno State athlete selected, wrapped up her impressive rookie season by finishing second on the squad in goals (9), assists (5) and points (23). The 2002 All-WAC Second Team honoree was just one of four players to start all 21 games for the Bulldogs last year. She also was named to the 2002 WAC All-Tournament team after recording two goals in Fresno State's 4-0 win over Tulsa in the opening round.
Firepower In The Front
This year's Bulldog team should be one of the school's deepest squads in recent memory, but the main strength remains obvious. With its top four scorers (three play at the forward position) returning, Fresno State should have little trouble offensively. The bulk of the scoring will come from the sophomore duo of forwards Kortney Lewis and Katri Nokso-Koivisto. Lewis was impressive in her rookie season, leading the club in goals (10), assists (7), points (27) and shots (53). Nokso-Koivisto gave Fresno State another scoring threat up front in her first year, finishing behind Lewis in goals (9), assists (5), points (23) and shots (43). Senior midfielder/forward Erin Sayegusa (five goals, 11 points) was one of the team's best clutch performers with three game-winning goals in 2001. Sophomore midfielder Koleen Anderson notched three goals and eight points last year in 21 games played.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Aside from the offense, Fresno State should benefit from a roster that is littered with veteran players who specialize in playing multiple positions. Eight of the 11 players who started in last year's WAC Tournament semifinal against SMU are coming back, along with eight additional letterwinners. The defense and midfield positions are extremely deep and should give the Bulldogs some flexibility and versatility in the lineup. Currently, there are eight different players that would be comfortable filling in at two different positions. While there are only three seniors on this year's squad, 63-percent of the squad is made up of either sophomores of juniors.
Back In The Rankings
Even though Fresno State failed to crack any of the top-25 polls in 2002, the Bulldogs still found themselves back among the nation's best. After a drop-off in attendance from previous years, the 'Dogs climbed back among the nation's top-10 in average attendance for the 2002 season. Fresno State finished last season with the ninth highest average attendance at 1,089 fans per game. Even more impressive, the Bulldogs accomplished the feat despite playing only seven home matches.
2002 National Home Attendance Leaders
1. North Carolina 9 18,435 2,048
2. Portland 10 16,852 1,685
3. Florida 8 12,754 1,594
4. Texas A&M 12 18,272 1,522
5. Georgia 10 14,098 1,409
6. Texas 10 13,932 1,393
7. Stanford 13 16,447 1,265
8. Santa Clara 11 12,642 1,149
9. Fresno State 7 7,624 1,089
10. New Mexico 6 6,481 1,080
The Bulldogs attracted crowds of at least 1,000 on four occasions, which featured a season-best 1,699 against No. 3 UCLA. The Bulldogs finished 18th overall in total home attendance, as 7,624 fans passed through the turnstiles in 2002.
'Dogs Excel In The Classroom
Last year proved to be quite successful for the Bulldogs in the classroom as well. Eight Fresno State student-athletes earned WAC All-Academic accolades for 2002, the second-most among other schools in the conference. Prior to that, the Bulldogs had never totaled more than five selections on the WAC All-Academic squad. The Bulldogs also achieved their highest team GPA in school history at 3.23.
Run At The Records
Several Bulldog athletes continue to establish themselves in the program record book. Senior Erin Sayegusa has moved into seventh place all-time with 28 career points. She is also currently in seventh place with 11 goals on the all-time list, as well as eighth place with six assists. Sophomore Katri Nokso-Koivisto has also made her mark, as she is 10th in both points (23) and goals (9). Fellow second-year standout Kortney Lewis is also steadily making a climb up the charts, as her 27 points rank eighth in that category and her seven assists are good for fifth.
Fresno State Lands Three to All-WAC
Three Bulldog student-athletes were awarded All-WAC honors in 2002, as Mary-tyler Wahl, Erin Sayegusa and Katri Nokso-Koivisto all earned Second Team accolades. Wahl was between the posts for all 21 games and played 1919:45 in goal while making a career-high 94 saves. Sayegusa, who started 15 of the 21 matches in which she appeared, finished third in goals (5), points (11), shots (41) and shots on goal (17). Nokso-Koivisto gave Fresno State a consistent scoring threat up front in her first year, finishing second in goals (9), assist (5), points (23), shots (43).
A Glance At The Schedule
The theory of scheduling the nation's premier teams early and often will continue again this year. After facing four nationally-ranked opponents in 2002 while playing three of their first 10 contests away from Bulldog Stadium, the formula will be similar for the 'Dogs in 2003. Nine of the first 11 games this year are scheduled to be played on the road. Fresno State opens the year with tough matches at UNC Charlotte and Tennessee, two schools projected to reside among the nation's top-25. Fresno State will also travel to Seattle for a tournament in late September that features defending national champion Portland and Pac-10 power Washington. Road matches at California and Saint Mary's will also pose a challenge.
So How Do You Play?
You'll have to forgive the Bulldogs if they appear to have forgotten the rules for overtime. After all, Fresno State has not tied a match since the 1999 season, when it battled UTEP to a 1-1 double-overtime draw on Oct. 22 in El Paso. Four of the Bulldog's 21 games reached the overtime session in 2002, compared to just four in the two previous seasons combined. Overall, Fresno State has now gone 63 consecutive matches without a tie.
This Win Ranks High
Fresno State's 2-1 upset road victory over No. 24 Cal State Fullerton on Oct.27 was the first time a Bulldog squad had knocked off a nationally-ranked opponent since 1999. The win against a top-25 school was also the first during head coach Stacy Welp's tenure and it came during the Bulldog's season-high five-match win streak. Prior to that contest, the 'Dogs had been 0-3 against nationally-ranked teams in 2002, enduring losses to No. 17 Pepperdine, No. 3 UCLA and No. 4 California. Fresno State is now 4-12 all-time against nationally-ranked schools. The highest ranked team the Bulldogs have ever beaten was No. 7 USC, who the Bulldogs downed 2-1 in 1999.
Shots A Plenty
Fresno State exploded for 27 shots against Tulsa in the first round of the WAC Tournament, tying a school record in the process. The 27 shots in a single match were the most for the Bulldogs since accumulating the same total at Colgate on Sept. 24, 2000. Six players notched at least three shots in the 4-0 victory, with Erin Saygusa leading the way with five. Kortney Lewis and Katri Nokso-Koivisto, who both tallied two goals in the shutout, recorded for shots apiece.
All-Time Against the WAC
Fresno State is 23-18-4 all-time against WAC opponents and holds a 6-8 mark in WAC Tournament competition.