Survival Week Hits Big West Men's Soccer
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A big week of matchups is on the agenda for Big West men’s soccer, none bigger than the first place showdown between UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine Saturday night in Irvine.
Prior to that big showdown between ranked sides, the Gauchos and Anteaters have midweek games to focus on. UCSB travels to the Central Coast for the second installment of its rivalry with Cal Poly, while UCI takes on a hot UC Riverside club at Anteater Stadium. The UCSB/UCI showdown will be the lone regular season meeting between the teams this season. The two clubs have also met in the past two Big West Tournament finals, both won by UC Irvine. The winner gets a leg up on the Big West regular season crown and top seed in next month's league tournament.
Wednesday also has two other huge matches, including a non-conference game. Cal State Fullerton and UC Davis, both currently tied for third in the standings, will do battle in Titan Stadium in their lone matchup this season. In addition, Cal State Northridge hosts a regional rival in Pac-10 power UCLA in a primetime outing.
Saturday also has Cal Poly visiting UC Davis just six days after a tight 2-1 win by the Mustangs over the visiting Aggies. UC Riverside will also travel to Cal State Northridge looking to make a late push at the Big West Tournament, while Cal State Fullerton hosts a non-conference game against Pac-10 foe San Diego State.
Back On TV And Expecting A Crowd
As aforementioned, this week will be the second tilt of the Central Coast rivalry between UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly as the scene shifts to Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo. A national TV audience will witness the matchup in Spanos as the game will be carried live on Fox Soccer Channel as its Game of the Week.
Two things you can expect for sure is a large crowd and heart stopping soccer. The past three matches between the two at Spanos have produced crowds of 7,143 (2007), a capacity showing of 11,075 (2008) and 9,824 (2009). The 2008 crowd is the fourth-largest on campus crowd in NCAA regular season history.
The series has produced a lot of close matches as seven of the last eight matches have been one-goal contests, including a UCSB win via penalty kicks in a 2008 Big West Tournament semifinal.
UC Irvine has a prolific offensive unit, but its output last week against Cal State Fullerton had to be a big surprise. The Anteaters put up seven goals against the Titans, the most UCI has scored in a match since a 2001 game against ironically enough, Cal State Fullerton. A school-record seven players scored in the match, it tied for eighth on the Big West single game goals list and tied for fourth on the league single game points (21) ledger.
Sam I Am, The Hat Trick Man
Sam Garza added to his stellar season for UC Santa Barbara last weekend, picking up his first career hat trick in UCSB’s 4-0 win over rival Cal State Northridge. Garza’s hat trick is the first by a Gaucho since former star Chris Pontius recorded one against UC Irvine on October 3, 2007. It is also the second hat trick in the league this season and 25th in league history.
UCR Halts The Streak
UC Riverside got a large monkey off its back last week with a 3-2 win over Cal State Fullerton. The win snapped a 21-match winless streak in conference play. The last time the Highlanders tasted victory against a conference foe was a home match on October 18, 2008 against UC Davis. It’s also the first road win during Big West play for UCR since a 1-0 victory over CSF on October 10, 2007, ending a 16-match road winless string. The win also gave UC Riverside four wins on the season, three more than it recorded all of last season.
Barrera, Walker, Zamora Enter Record Books
A trio of Big West players entered either their school or conference record books with stellar performances last weekend.
UC Santa Barbara's Danny Barrera moved his career assist total to 20, placing him in a tie for ninth in Gaucho history and ninth in Big West history.
Amani Walker of UC Irvine cracked into the all-time Big West goals list with his 25th career score last weekend. He is now tied for 10th and is just three scores away from ninth place. Walker is also fifth in UCI program history in goals, while ranking sixth in points (61).
Cal Poly's David Zamora became the Mustangs career points leader with his score last Sunday. He now has 58 career points, while his 23 career goals is just two away from 10th on the all-time Big West list.
Titan Offense A Monopoly
A year ago Cal State Fullerton had only one player score five or more goals, but had 12 different goal scorers. This season, the Titan offense already has two players with five or more goals, but the depth of '09 is not there as just five players have accounted for the 18 CSF scores. Conversely, the UC Irvine offense had seven different scorers in one game.
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.