End of Regular Season Saturday for Men's Soccer, Postseason Bids Still Up For Grabs
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Saturday marks the end of the Big West men's soccer regular season, but between now and then, a slew of matchups will be key in deciding postseason berths and order for the Big West Men's Soccer Tournament which begins on November 10.
The four-team field could be set Wednesday as Cal State Fullerton hits the road to take on Cal Poly, while UC Davis heads to the Inland Empire for a battle against UC Riverside. Wins by the Titans and Aggies would guarantee them spots in the Big West Tournament, joining UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. Losses or ties would open up a slew of tiebreaker scenarios for Saturday that would leave Cal Poly and UC Riverside alive for bids.
Wednesday can also mark the crowning of a regular season champion as UC Irvine hosts Cal State Northridge. UCI needs just one win over its next two matches to secure its second regular season title in three years. Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara, which can do no worse than second, still has a shot at the crown but needs the Anteaters to do no better than 0-1-1 in their final two matches while winning its season finale against UCR Saturday. If the ‘Eaters and Gauchos tie, then the tiebreaker will be based on how the teams finished against other squads in yet to be played matches.
I Thought We Were Done With This
After playing four matches that needed extra time in September, UC Santa Barbara had only played one in October entering last week’s action. Then the Gauchos played two more overtime matches, resulting in a loss at Cal Poly and a scoreless tie at Irvine. The squad dropped to 1-3-3 in overtime matches this season, with all but two of those contests coming on the road.
UCR Surpasses '09 Win Total
UC Riverside is on late run to a possible postseason berth thanks to two wins in its last three contests, giving them five victories on the season. That surpasses last year's victory total and is the most for the club since 2007. In addition, UCR's two conference wins also makes this the first time since that same 2007 campaign that the club has won at least two conference and five overall games.
It's Been Rough Out There
The Big West has been one of the toughest leagues in the country for quite some time, but this season the league has been cannabalizing itself more than in recent memory. The league may finish with just two double-digit win teams for the first time since 2006. But this season certainly qualifies as parity as as many as six teams may finish with double-digit points in conference play.
Storm The Field For This One
The Central Coast rivalry between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara has been a one-sided affair of late as UCSB was on a seven-match unbeaten string against the Mustangs. Last Wednesday however, Cal Poly turned the tables in front of a national television audience as it won 2-1 in overtime. The match not only had a coast-to-coast viewership, but also was played in front of 8,125, the 13th-largest regular season attendance figure in NCAA history.
Thompson & Walker...Superscorers
There have been many impressive offensive duos in Big West lore, but few have matched the career production of UC Irvine's Spencer Thompson and Amani Walker. They are the second pair of teammates in conference history to each score 25 or more career goals during the same four-year period, tallying 51 to this point. The only other pair of teammates to accomplish the feat were former UCSB All-Americans Drew McAthy and Neil Jones. They combined for an incredible 81 scores from the 2001-04 seasons. Much of that was McAthy who put up 53 scores by himself, one of three players in Big West history to pick up 50 or more career goals.
Lending a Helping Hand
Miguel Ibarra of UC Irvine may be one of the smaller players on the field at 5-7, 135 pounds, but he has proven to have excellent vision as he leads the conference with 10 assists, four more than the next best number. Ibarra is just three assists from cracking into the top five Big West single-season assists list.
Speaking of assists, Kevin Schulte of UC Davis was giving them out like Halloween candy last Saturday. He tied the Big West single-game mark with four helpers against Cal Poly, just the third player in league history to do that. Additionally, it’s the first individual four-assist game in Big West history since Daniel Barber did it for former Big West member UNLV against UC Irvine in 1989.
The Ups And Downs Of Youth
After a three-game unbeaten run during which it scored nine goals, Cal State Northridge has struggled with a seven-match losing streak in which it has picked up just four scores. With one of the younger rosters in the country, the Matadors are building back to their usual level of excellence, and there has been several bright spots. Most recently, the side dominated a nationally-ranked foe in Pac-10 power UCLA, before ultimately falling 2-1.
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.