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Men's Soccer

Cal State Northridge Heads to Buckeye State To Tangle With #1 Akron

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This week's Big West men's soccer schedule has many intriguing matchups but none are larger than Cal State Northridge's visit to Akron, Ohio to take on the consensus #1 team in the nation, Akron. The Matadors will also play Illinois-Chicago at the Zips' tournament, arguably the toughest slate for any team in the Big West this week.


A Real Test

Cal State Northridge has usually made a trip to the Midwest or eastern half of the United States for a match, but this season's trip is especially daunting. The Matadors are playing in the University of Akron Tournament against consensus #1 Akron, a squad that lost in PK’s in the 2009 national title match and that has won its first three games this year by a combined score of 7-0. CSUN also has to take on a traditional Midwest power in Illinois-Chicago, making this foray to the Midwest particularly challenging.

One to Remember

Cal Poly's Chris Bernardi picked a pretty good time for his first goal as a member of the Mustang program last weekend. In a neutral site contest against six-time national champion Indiana, Bernardi collected a header won by teammate David Zamora and scored the lone goal of the contest in the 83rd minute. Bernardi’s game-winner gave Cal Poly its first victory over a nationally-ranked program since a 1-0 result November 21, 2008 against UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Wait...Did That Just Happen?
UC Davis junior Lance Patterson started out his Aggie career as a defender, but with an impressive blend of size (6-4, 200) and speed has moved to a more offensive role this season. Last weekend against Sacramento State, Patterson scored a goal that even the most prolific strikers would be impressed with. After the opening kickoff, Patterson made his way into the box and one-touched a cross from Jason Santos into the net a mere 10 seconds into the match. The strike gave Patterson a score in three consecutive matches, the first UCD player to do that since Quincy Amarikwa did it in October of 2008.

From The Highs...
UC Irvine has been an offensive juggernaut in its first five games, posting an impressive 13 goals during that stretch. The Anteaters have showcased a deep lineup as eight different players are responsible for those 13 scores. Not surpringly, UCI leads the Big West in goals, shots (81), points (39) and assists (13). In addition, the rest of the league has scored just 11 goals more than the Anteaters have put in the back of the net.

...To The Lows
UC Santa Barbara's offensive machine has stalled in the first four games of the season as the Gauchos have only scored three goals, a paltry 0.75 goals per game average. Denver transfer Sam Garza (2) and junior Michael Tetteh have been the only UCSB players to find the back of the net this season. The lack of offense has not only afflicted UC Santa Barbara as Cal State Northridge (0.25), Cal State Fullerton (0.50) and Cal Poly (1.00) join the Gauchos as clubs averaging one goal or less through at least four matches.

History In The Making?
A couple of players have had starts to the 2010 season that have already or might land them on Big West lists. First, Spencer Thompson’s hat trick last weekend against Air Force was the 24th in conference history and the fourth Anteater hat trick since 2005.

Thompson’s teammate Andrew Fontein has posted five shutouts in as many games this season to boost his career total to 14. That places him just one shy of 10th place on the all-time Big West ledger. In addition, Fontein’s 25 career wins already ranks 8th on the Big West list.

Thompson and Cal Poly striker David Zamora are also on the verge of entering the all-time goals list. Thompson has 22 career scores, while Zamora is sitting on 21. That puts both of them in striking distance of former Big West member Fresno State’s  Femi Olukanni who had 25 career goals.

Some Impressive Results
Aside from UC Irvine's 5-0 start, there have been some eye-opening results around the league through the first two weekends. Cal Poly defeated Indiana, Cal State Northridge tied Washington, UC Santa Barbara tied New Mexico on the road and Cal State Fullerton tied two very good West Coast Conference teams in Saint Mary’s (Calif.) and San Francisco in one weekend.

Also impressive in the early going has been the play of UC Riverside. The Highlanders have revved up the offense with nine goals in four games and suffered a tough loss to nationally-ranked UCLA in overtime last week.

Something A Bit Different
A look at the goal leaders in the Big West shows something you might have have thought was going to happen at the beginning of the season. Two players are tied for the league lead in goals who’s primary position was or currently is defender. Lance Patterson of UC Davis came into the program as a defender but now patrols the midfield. Corey Attaway still plays an integral role on the backline for UC Irvine, but has found his way forward for a trio of game-winning tallies. At least the other two players tied atop the list are strikers in UC Riverside’s Alex Racca and UC Irvine’s Spencer Thompson.

Cal Poly's two wins this season have been of the dramatic variety as goals in the final seven minutes of regulation play have vaulted the Mustangs to victory. Chris Bernardi’s dramatic tally against Indiana has already been documented, but in the season-opener, Chris Gaschen scored in the 88th minute to lead Cal Poly to a 1-0 win road win over Denver.

College Cup The Goal
The College Cup is the goal for each DI men’s soccer program, but this season the showcase event has a Big West feel. For the first time since 2006, the College Cup will be held at an on-campus venue as UC Santa Barbara hosts the showcase at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium December 10-12. The 17,000-seat venue will have an improved look as a new field, pressbox and plaza are among the many improvements geared at preparing the stadium for the College Cup.

UCI's Thompson Named to MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List
UC Irvine's Spencer Thompson will have even more attention thrust on his shoulders this season as the senior was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, the preseason ledger of the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. The native of Ahwatukee, Ariz., is one of 39 players on the initial list and the lone player from a Big West school. Thompson was named to the list following a 2009 season in which he recorded 18 points (7 g, 4 a) and was named first team All-Big West and first team All-Far West region. The recipients of the MAC Hermann Trophy are selected by NCAA Division I coaches who are members of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Voting for the MAC Hermann Trophy is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists. Those three will be invited to the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 7, 2011, where a news conference will be held to announce the winner, followed by a banquet to honor the three finalists.