San Diego’s sunny, hot weather in mid-August may not mesh, but the “fall” sports season has, indeed, arrived on the University of San Diego campus. Team preparations for football, soccer, volleyball, cross-country and swimming and diving are underway. A few teams have already received additional motivation with expectations for a strong season ahead.
Fall sports season highlights include:
- Two teams, football and men’s soccer, have been chosen as the title favorite in their respective leagues’ — Pioneer Football League and West Coast Conference — preseason coaches’ poll. Women’s soccer, defending co-WCC champions, and women’s volleyball, a perennial WCC title contender, also have high hopes.
- Women’s soccer, which includes sophomore midfielder Mariah Butera (pictured) officially opens the university’s 2012-13 sports season Aug. 17 in a 3 p.m. game at Pepperdine and returns for a 1 p.m. home opener Aug. 19 against Cal State Northridge at Torero Stadium.
- The men’s soccer team is pointing to their season-opening home game at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 against UC Irvine. Earlier that day will be the program’s annual golf tournament fundraiser at Mission Valley’s Riverwalk Golf Course. The weekend will conclude with a 2 p.m. alumni soccer game Aug. 26 on USD’s Manchester Field site.
- The women’s volleyball team, ranked No. 19 in the latest AVCA preseason poll, begins a tough nonconference slate on the road at the University of Texas’ Burnt Orange Classic in Austin. The Toreros face Cal Poly on Aug. 24 at 12:30 p.m. (PT) with matches against LSU and Texas on Aug. 25. Coach Jennifer Petrie’s squad plays its first seven matches on the road before hosting its own tournament, Sept. 14-15, in the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
- Coach Ron Caragher’s football team, co-PFL champions last year and anchored by returning 2011 PFL Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Blake Oliaro (pictured), started training camp on Aug. 7. The team, which has an intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 18 at Manchester Field, opens the regular season Sept. 1 at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. USD’s home opener is 6 p.m. on Sept. 8 against Western New Mexico. The Toreros play at Harvard on Sept. 15 before opening PFL play at home against Valparaiso Sept. 22.
- The cross-country teams, coached by Will Guarino, and assistant Lena Nilsson, open their season Sept. 1 at the Mark Covert Classic in Brea, Calif. The men and women’s runners are scheduled for only one San Diego meet, Oct. 6 in La Jolla. The WCC Championships are Oct. 27 in Portland, Ore.
- Women’s swimming, which had one competitor, Eleanor Phillips, qualify for the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials this summer, returns to action Sept. 21 with its USD Pentathlon at 2 p.m. The team’s season will really get rolling in October.
While USD sports teams gear up for the fall, it’s worth noting a few USD athletics developments that took place over the summer:
• USD enters 2012-13 as the unprecedented five-time recipient of the WCC Commissioner’s Cup for overall conference success in all sports it participates (soccer, volleyball, cross-country, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf and women’s rowing). Based on a points system, USD earned 76.5 total points, edging runner-up and conference newcomer Brigham Young University, to win the Cup for the fifth consecutive year. Furthermore, three WCC titles in women’s sports in 2011-12 led USD to its fourth WCC’s Women’s All-Sports Trophy in five years.
• USD Athletics Department recently launched a redesigned website, http://www.usdtoreros.com , giving Torero fans access to sports news, results, rosters and schedules. There’s an increased emphasis on social media communication on Facebook, Twitter — @USDToreros — and access to live Toreros game highlights, Toreros All-Access videos and more.
• One team that really enjoyed building camaraderie this summer is the men’s soccer program. Coach Seamus McFadden, entering his 34th year, took his players to Scotland and England for an international soccer trip of a lifetime.
— Ryan T. Blystone
Main photo courtesy of scottphoto.net.