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CAMPUS REPORT

Titan Men Seeded 7th; Mistri Thrilled

November 17, 1998|MICHAEL ITAGAKI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Cal State Fullerton was seeded seventh for the NCAA Division I men's soccer championships when pairings were announced Monday. Fullerton will host San Diego in a first-round game at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"We're ecstatic," Fullerton Coach Al Mistri said. "That's the highest we've ever been seeded. To get that seed for the tournament is one the best compliments our program has received."

Fullerton (14-4-2) was placed in the same bracket with second-seeded Virginia (14-3-3), which Fullerton tied, 1-1, Sept. 6 in the FILA Classic at Fullerton. Clemson (20-1) is top-seeded, Duke (18-3) third and Washington (16-3) fourth.

Mistri said the Titans' record and strength of schedule helped their case for a higher seeding.

Fullerton played eight teams in the 32-team NCAA tournament field this season. The Titans went 3-3-2 against those teams, including a 2-1 victory over sixth-seeded UCLA and a 5-2 victory over San Diego.

"We played USD [Sept. 18] down there," Mistri said, "and although they had some problems early, they may have rectified those problems."

West Coast Conference champion San Diego (11-8) has won four of its last five and is led by senior midfielder Leighton O'Brien.

San Diego is one of eight teams from the West region that received bids, including four Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams.

Conference champ Washington, sixth-seeded UCLA (16-3) and unseeded Stanford (14-4-2) also will host first-round games.

The Fullerton-San Diego winner advances to play the Stanford-San Jose State (14-5-1) winner. If Fullerton defeats San Diego, it will also host the second-round game.

Although Fullerton lost only once in October and November--a 2-1 defeat against Washington--the Titans haven't overpowered opponents down the stretch.

Sunday, Fullerton beat UC Irvine in overtime, 3-2. On its trip to Northern California in early November, Fullerton tied Stanford, 1-1, and beat California, 2-1.

But Mistri isn't overly concerned.

"Sure we've had to sweat out some close ones lately," Mistri laughed. "But for us, every one is a hard-fought game. It was no different with UCLA, Stanford or Irvine.

"I think in the past week, the players may have been getting a little tired mentally and physically. But we should be rejuvenated with this [NCAA tournament] news."

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