Michael Linenberger has coached men’s soccer at Sacramento State the past 26 seasons while Dwayne Shaffer is in his 18th season at UC Davis.
The two have coached against each other in a soccer rivalry that’s every bit as intense for the players and coaches as the more renowned Causeway Classic football battles between the two schools.
The intensity level on the pitch was dialed up even more when Sac State joined UC Davis in the Big West Conference in 2012.
“We’re friends off the field – we get along really well,” Shaffer said of Linenberger. “When we are on the field, boy, do the competitive spirits flow. We’ve fought some battles over the years.”
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Coaches and players expect an even bigger spark with Saturday’s match, dubbed the Collegiate Causeway Classico, because it’s being played at 7 p.m. under the lights at Bonney Field on the Cal Expo grounds, home of Republic FC.
Neither school has a soccer field with lights, so Saturday’s match was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. at Sac State.
Linenberger, however, saw an excellent opportunity to market the college game to a wider audience in the first of two meetings against UC Davis this season.
He was thankful that Republic FC officials helped make it happen.
“They had a tremendous year, both on and off the field, and have a tremendous fan base,” Linenberger said of the first-year professional soccer team. “If we can tap into their fan base a little bit. ... Maybe their fans are going through soccer withdrawals, and it’s a chance for them to come watch some quality college soccer.”
Republic FC regularly sold out the 8,000-seat venue en route to winning the USL Pro championship in September and setting a league single-season attendance record in drawing more than 158,000 fans.
Many UC Davis and Sac State players saw Republic FC play at Bonney Field.
“It’s going to be exciting playing out there,” said UCD junior midfielder Ryan Gross, a Davis High School graduate who attended a handful of Republic FC matches. “It’s a beautiful facility, and we have a classic rivalry so, hopefully, we can get a bunch of fans to go and watch.”
The two teams will play a second match Nov. 1 at UCD. They split their home-and-home matches last season, with each visiting team winning 1-0. The two schools are 3-3 in the last six matches.
The Hornets are a young squad that features 11 area players. Among them is senior forward Chimdum Mez, a Franklin High graduate, who entered the week having scored four game-winning goals.
The Aggies are led by Major League Soccer prospect Ramon Martin del Campo, a senior defender who played for the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team this summer.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children. Parking is $10.
Sankey added to list – Sac State junior middle linebacker Darnell Sankey, who suffered a knee injury during Saturday’s 56-27 loss to Cal Poly, has been added to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Sankey leads the Hornets with 99 tackles, but his status for the Hornets’ Nov. 1 game at Montana is still uncertain, according to Sac State coach Jody Sears. He isn’t practicing this week, and his injury will be further evaluated either today or Friday.
Sankey is one of four Big Sky Conference players on the 23-man nomination list. The others are Cal Poly linebacker Nick Dzubnar, Montana defensive end Zack Wagenmann and Southern Utah defensive end James Cowser.
Fipps lands honors – UC Davis women’s senior forward Sydnee Fipps, who averaged a team-leading 17.7 points last season, is one of two Big West Conference basketball players to be named to the College Sports Madness All-Mid Major Preseason second team. She is a two-time All-Big West first-team selection.
Big Sky madness? – Sac State’s last winning men’s basketball team was the 1988-89 squad, and it’s last plus-.500 Big Sky Conference campaign was 10 years ago, but the Hornets, with five returning starters, are getting plenty of respect from the preseason prognosticators.
The Hornets have been picked to finish among the top four in the Big Sky in five media polls, including No. 1 by Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson,