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Men's Soccer

UC Irvine, UC Riverside Selected to NCAA Men's Soccer Championship



2018 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament Bracket

Big West Men's Soccer Release No. 13

For the eighth time in the last 12 seasons, multiple teams will represent the Big West Conference in the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.  UC Irvine and UC Riverside will compete in the first round of the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 15.

The Big West is one of 11 conferences across the country to earn two or more bids into the 48-team NCAA Tournament bracket.

UC Riverside is one of three programs making its first appearance in the championship along with Grand Canyon and High Point.  The Highlanders captured the first Big West Tournament title in school history on Saturday as they defeated UC Davis in a penalty kick shootout after both teams battled to a scoreless draw through two overtimes.

UCR enters the postseason with a 7-9-3 record.  The Highlanders are 7-2-2 over their last 11 games, shutting out seven opponents in that span and offsetting a tough 0-7-1 start to the campaign.  UCR has allowed just nine goals over its last 11 contests.

The Highlanders will travel to Stockton to take on West Coast Conference opponent Pacific in Thursday’s first round.  Pacific has defeated the Big West NCAA Tournament entry in each of the last two seasons, knocking off CSUN (2016) and Cal State Fullerton (2017).

UC Irvine received one of 24 at-large postseason bids, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance under second-year head coach Yossi Raz and the program’s sixth overall as a Big West member.

The Anteaters won the Big West regular season championship going 5-1-1 (16 points) in conference play.  They enter the postseason 11-5-3 overall, and have been ranked in all three major polls at some point this season, including a five-week stretch by Top Drawer Soccer.  UCI lost in the semifinals of the Big West Tournament to UC Davis on penalty kicks.

The Anteaters are 4-5-0 overall in five previous NCAA appearances.  They last participated in 2014, defeating UNLV and sixth-seeded Stanford before falling in the Sweet 16 to 11th-seeded Providence.  UCI also advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2008 and 2013.

UCI will host an NCAA postseason match for the sixth time in program history, facing Western Athletic Conference tournament champion Grand Canyon on Thursday at Anteater Stadium.  UCI previously hosted postseason contests in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014.  The program is 3-2-0 all-time in home NCAA matches, earning wins against UNLV (2014), North Carolina (2013) and Cal Poly (2008).

Second round action is slated for Sunday, Nov. 17.  The Highlanders or Tigers will travel to sixth-seeded Duke, while the Anteaters or Lopes will head to ninth-seeded Stanford.


The 2018-19 season marks the 50th anniversary for men’s sports in the Big West Conference, and the 35th for women’s.  All season long the Big West will celebrate the history of all 18 conference-sponsored sports.

• UC Santa Barbara is the only Big West program to reach the NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup.  The Gauchos advanced to the championship game of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Indiana in a penalty kick shootout.  UCSB avenged that experience two seasons later, as in 2006, the unranked Gauchos went on a late season surge that took them back to the College Cup.  That team defeated Wake Forest in penalty kicks in the semifinals, then toppled UCLA in the final to claim the national championship.


Multiple NCAA Bid Tradition Continues 

The reveal of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship bracket included Big West representatives UC Irvine and UC Riverside.  Since 2002, the Big West has sent at least two teams to the postseason on 12 occasions.  A league record four teams participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2008.

2002 CSUN, UC Santa Barbara
2003 CSUN, UC Santa Barbara
2004 CSUN, UC Santa Barbara
2005 CSUN, UC Santa Barbara
2007 UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara
2008 Cal Poly, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara
2009 UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara
2011 UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara
2013 CSUN, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara
2014 Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine
2015 Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara
2018 UC Irvine, UC Riverside

History Lesson
With UC Riverside making its first NCAA appearance in program history, seven of the eight current Big West members will have competed in the postseason.  Five schools have participated in the NCAA’s as recently as 2014.  The most recent NCAA appearances for each Big West program are as follows – Cal Poly (2015), Cal State Fullerton (2017), CSUN (2016), UC Davis (2008), UC Irvine (2014), UC Santa Barbara (2015).

Welcome To The Dance
UC Riverside ended a 17-year NCAA Tournament drought, which coincides with its first year of Division I membership in 2001.  The Highlanders became one of three programs (High Point, Grand Canyon) to qualify for their inaugural NCAA Tournament, clinching the Big West automatic berth as a result of winning their first conference tournament title.  The second-seeded Highlanders defeated No. 6 seed Cal State Fullerton (3-2 in OT) and No. 5 seed UC Davis (4-2 in penalty kicks) to win the title.  UCR joined UC Irvine (2008) and CSUN (2012) as the only programs to capitalize as tourney champion in their first trip to the title game. 

What A Turnaround
UC Riverside survived an 0-7-1 start to the 2018 season, surrendering 24 goals in that eight-game span.  Seven of the first eight opponents scored three or more goals against the Highlander defense.  However, a 2-1 win in overtime against crosstown rival Cal Baptist on Sept. 22 reinvigorated the Highlanders.  Since that point, UCR has posted a 7-2-2 record with a miniscule nine goals allowed during that 11-game stretch – and six of those goals occurred in the two losses – 3-1 to UC Irvine (Oct. 3) and 3-0 to UC Davis (Oct. 13).  The Highlanders have shutout seven of their last 10 opponents.  Coincidentally, UCR’s first round NCAA contest against Pacific is a rematch of a Sept. 6 game in Stockton, a 3-1 win by the Tigers that dropped the Highlanders to 0-5-0 on the season.

Back To The Postseason
UC Irvine’s sixth NCAA Tournament appearance – second via an at-large berth – comes on the heels of a double-digit win season under second-year head coach Yossi Raz.  The 11 wins the Anteaters collected represent the most for the program since a 16-win campaign in 2014.  UCI has been ranked in the top 25 by Top Drawer Soccer for five straight weeks, including a high of No. 13 on Oct. 23.  The ‘Eaters also have spent time in the United Soccer Coaches (Oct. 23, No. 21) and Soccer America (Oct. 23, No. 24) polls this season.

Regular Season Champs
UCI’s regular season Big West title was the fifth in program history, tied with CSUN and behind only UC Santa Barbara’s league-best 10 championships since 2001.  The Anteaters finished 5-1-1 in conference play.

Knack For The Dramatic
UCR has scored three golden goals this year – Cal Baptist (Sept. 22), Cal Poly (Oct. 6) and Cal State Fullerton (Nov. 3).


Several Coaches Hit Milestones
A number of Big West head coaches have achieved milestones during the 2018 season.

• UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer, in his 22nd year at UC Davis, won his 100th game in the Big West on Sept. 2 against CSU Bakersfield.  He is now 108-92-42 all-time in 11 seasons of coaching at the Division I level.  He is just the seventh individual in history to win 100 games as a Big West coach.  Tim Vom Steeg (237, UC Santa Barbara), George Kuntz (191, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton), Terry Davila (180, CSUN), Jose Elgorriaga (126, Fresno State), Al Mistri (119, Cal State Fullerton) and Barry Barto (116, UNLV) are the others to accomplish the feat.

• Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger – in his 30th year at the helm of the program – earned his 200th career win on Oct. 3 against UC Santa Barbara.  He is 201-297-63 as a head coach, including 44-68-18 during six-plus years in the Big West.

• UC Santa Barbara head coach Tim Vom Steeg picked up his 250th career victory on Aug. 26 versus UC Riverside.  He owns an all-time record of 258-119-48, with 237 of those wins coming while in the Big West.

• CSUN’s Terry Davila surpassed his mentor for the school’s career wins record with a 1-0 triumph over Cal Poly on Oct. 13. The 20th-year head coach earned win No. 193, moving past Marwan Ass’ad, who compiled a 192-102-26 mark from 1983-98.  Davila is now 194-153-51 overall at the school.

Canales Joins Exclusive Club
UC Irvine senior Ivan Canales became the seventh player in Big West history to accumulate career totals of 20 goals and 20 assists.  He recorded his 20th career assist in a 3-2 win at Cal Poly on Oct. 21.  Canales is the Big West’s active career leader in goals (25), assists (20), points (70) and shots taken (144).  He is the conference co-leader in goals with 10 this season.  His current head coach, Yossi Raz, collected 22 goals and 28 assists at CSUN from 2001-04.

Canales Enters Big West Top 10 For Game-Winning Goals
UCI forward Ivan Canales leads the Big West with six game-winning goals this year, the clinching strike coming in wins against James Madison, Loyola Marymount, Brown, UC Riverside, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly.  His goal against the Mustangs, coming with just two seconds remaining in overtime, was the ninth game-winner of his career.  That placed him in a tie for eighth all-time in the conference record book with Cal State Fullerton’s Hector Orellana (2001-03).

'Career 20 Goals, 20 Assist Club

Name, School Goals Assists Years
Gerrell Elliott, Fresno State 54 28 1988-91
Doug Borgel, UNLV 43 23 1987-90
Luis Silva, UC Santa Barbara 28 23 2008-11
Ivan Canales, UC Irvine 25 20 2015-18
Randy Prescott, Fresno State 23 23 1983-85
Yossi Raz, CSUN 22 28 2001-04
Rich Ryerson, UNLV 20 20 1983-86