From Staff Reports
After opening the 2009 season with two tremendous shutouts on the road, the Clayton State men's soccer team will open the home portion of its schedule this weekend with two games of national proportions.
Friday will mark the first time ever that a No. 1-ranked team in men's soccer comes to Laker Field as the Lakers play host to top-ranked Tampa at 7:30 p.m. That's followed by a showdown on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. against seventh-ranked Lynn and former Clayton State head coach John Rootes.
Clayton State enters Friday night's showdown against Tampa 2-0 after winning consecutive 1-0 decisions last week at both Nova Southeastern and Barry. This marks the second time in the last three years that head coach Pete Petersen's Lakers have opened the season with two straight shutouts.
For their efforts, Clayton State had two players receive weekly honors from the Peach Belt Conference. Senior David Cristofoli was selected PBC Goalkeeper of the Week, while sophomore Roger Boniface was honored as PBC Defensive Player of the Week.
However, the stout Laker defense will be put to the test this weekend.
Head coach Adrian Bush's Tampa Spartans are No. 1 in nation in this week's Division II Top 25. Tampa is coming off an 18-4 campaign last season in which the Spartans advanced to the NCAA Division II "Final Four." Bush returns nine starters and 19 letterwinners off his team from last season, most notably All-American and National Player of the Year hopeful Pascal Milien at forward.
Clayton State and Tampa have played twice before, each winning once. This marks the first time ever that Tampa has played Clayton State at Laker Field.
Since leaving Clayton State in 2004, Rootes has pretty much haunted his former team. As head coach at Savannah College of Art and Design from 2004-2007, Rootes went 3-1 against the Lakers, and all three victories were at Laker Field. This is the first time ever that Clayton State and Lynn have squared off in men's soccer.
The Knights lost a whopping five Division II All-Americans off a squad that finished 18-2 last season and advanced to the NCAA Division II "Elite Eight" (losing to Tampa in the national quarterfinals). The most notable of the five was MLS first round draft pick Jean Alexandre and his 20 goals.
However, Rootes returns nine letterwinners and brought in a stellar recruiting class of 17 newcomers to reload the Lynn program. The most notable returnee is sophomore All-American hopeful Paulo Vaz at forward.