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Pair Face Tough Homecoming on CSUN Soccer Field

August 30, 1986|RICH TOSCHES | Times Staff Writer

The movie "Coming Home" depicted the overwhelming problems encountered by a returning Vietnam veteran, played by actor Bruce Dern. Rich Manning and Steve Sampson are also coming home this weekend and may encounter just as many problems as Dern did.

Sampson, an assistant soccer coach at UCLA the past four years, is now the head coach at Santa Clara. And Manning, from Crespi High in Encino, is Santa Clara's best player. They may be in far over their heads tonight at 7:30 at North Campus Stadium against Cal State Northridge, which reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II playoffs last season and battled defending Division I champion UCLA to a 1-1 tie last weekend.

Including Manning, Santa Clara fields only four seniors. The rest of the team is made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores. The Broncos were 8-13 last year, and with an early schedule that includes powerhouses Northridge, Loyola, UCLA and Nevada Las Vegas, the immediate future doesn't appear too bright.

"I know quite a bit about Northridge from my years at UCLA," said Sampson, who has only been working with his team since Aug. 13. "I know their personnel and I know coach Marwan Ass'ad. He has a very fine team, a very well-respected team. Northridge is a team we will respect very highly going into the match. It's a team that could easily be playing Division I soccer and could compete quite well at that level."

Manning was injured in the second game of the 1985 season and missed the rest of the year. The NCAA granted him another season of eligibility. Sampson said the former Crespi player will make or break Santa Clara.

"Rich is our goal-scorer and our captain," the coach said. "He'll be our main midfielder. Against Northridge we're counting on him to be the playmaker.

"The match against CSUN will be a very good test for us. Northridge is competitive enough to expose some of our weaknesses, but at the same time I'm hoping we'll be competitive enough to expose some of their weaknesses. It could be a very, very good soccer match."

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