A week ago, after losing two overtime matches to Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. opponents in one weekend, Al Mistri, Cal State Fullerton soccer coach, told his team that even one defeat in the season's final eight contests would be too many.
"The remaining games--it's just do or die for every single one of them," Mistri told the Titans after losses to UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.
One week later, and so far, so good.
On Friday, Fullerton beat 20th-ranked Fresno State, 2-0, after leading scorer Tom Atencio scored early. Sunday, Fullerton came back after trailing at halftime, 1-0, to defeat San Jose State, 2-1, with Scott Robbins getting the winning goal with less than seven minutes to play.
"This weekend we finally played to the level we are capable of," Mistri said.
Part of the credit goes to freshman goalkeeper Jay Nettekoven, who started for the first time Friday and allowed only one goal in the two victories.
"I think we respond more to must-do situations than we do to those when it's difficult to see the immediate importance," Mistri said.
Mistri said he believes the Titans' chances of making the 24-team NCAA tournament depend on winning at least five of their six remaining matches.
Still ahead for the Titans (9-6, 3-3) is perhaps the toughest three-game stretch of the season--a game against UCLA sandwiched between games against Nevada Las Vegas, which is undefeated in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. The other remaining games are against Brigham Young, UC Irvine and Santa Barbara.
Todd White, the Fullerton receiver who set two school records in the Titans' victory over Nevada Las Vegas Saturday, has been named the PCAA offensive player of the week.
White, a fifth-year senior, caught a school-record 12 passes for a school-record 203 yards. Three of his receptions were for touchdowns, a number that tied a school-record. But the pass he remembers best, White said, was one he didn't catch--"The one I dropped right in front of Coach (Gene) Murphy," he said.
Susan Herman, a sophomore outside hitter on the Titan women's volleyball team, set a school record for kills in a season in a loss to San Jose State Saturday. Herman, who graduated from Sonora High School, has 307 kills, passing the previous mark of 301 set by Joan McGhee in 1985.
The Titans' chances of winning the PCAA football championship appeared to take a downturn Saturday night when first-place San Jose State (3-0) came from behind to beat Fresno State (1-1).
The Spartans already have beaten second-place Fullerton (3-1), and Murphy has doubts as to whether UNLV, Utah State, Pacific or Cal State Long Beach can beat San Jose State.
"It's not over yet. You never can tell," Murphy said. "But we had a chance to control our own destiny (in the game against San Jose State), and we didn't." The Spartans beat the Titans, 46-19.