Cal State Fullerton Earns First National Ranking Since 2003
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Mens Soccer Release No. 4
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This Week in the Big West - September 12-18, 2011
Big West men's soccer is on a roll. Cal State Fullerton joins the national rankings for the first time since 2003, landing at No. 24 this week. UC Irvine has achieved its highest rating in school history (No. 5) while UC Santa Barbara is unanimously ranked in the top 10 of all four major polls.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
KEEP AN EYE ON
Cesar Diaz Pizarro, UC Riverside
Diaz Pizarro scored for the third time in four matches with his game-winning strike in a 1-0 victory over Saint Mary’s on Sunday. He has accounted for half of the Highlanders’ six goals on the season and is one of only three players to have started every match. Diaz Pizarro also notched goals against Cal State Bakersfield and Loyola Marymount. The senior is on pace to obliterate his 2010 total of five goals. Diaz Pizarro’s 14 career goals is tied for fourth in Highlander history.
UC Santa Barbara Cast In Favorite’s Role In 2011
The seven Big West men’s soccer coaches tabbed UC Santa Barbara to capture the 2011 regular season crown. The Gauchos nabbed six of the seven first-place votes while Cal Poly received the remaining first-place nod. UCSB, which has claimed three of the last five Big West regular season championships, collected 48 points overall. The Mustangs were picked to finish second with 40 points. Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine earned 32 and 30 points for third and fourth place, respectively. Rounding out the poll was Cal State Northridge (20 points), UC Davis (14) and UC Riverside (12). UC Santa Barbara returns six starters and 14 letterwinners from the 2010 team that finished 14-5-3 overall, won the Big West Tournament and made the program’s ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Big West is home to three nationally ranked men’s soccer programs. UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are perched in the top 10, and the newest addition to the rankings is Cal State Fullerton, which entered the Soccer America poll at No. 24 this week. The Big West is one of only three conferences across the country with three recognized top 25 teams by Soccer America, trailing only the Big East (7) and ACC (4).
TOP 25 TEAMS BY CONFERENCE
in Sept. 13 Soccer America poll
Big East 7
Atlantic Coast 4
BIG WEST 3
Missouri Valley 2
Big 10 2
Conference USA 1
UC Irvine Earns Highest Ranking In School History
UC Irvine is off to the best start in school history at 6-0-0 and that has resulted in a rapid rise up the national rankings chain. The Anteaters have achieved their highest ranking ever, moving up to No. 5 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire poll. UCI also has climbed to No. 9 in Soccer Times, No. 10 in Soccer America and No. 13 in College Soccer News. That bests the previous high of No. 7 that the program achieved in 2008. The 2010 Big West regular season champions lost their top seven scorers who contributed 34 of the team’s 46 goals, but have reloaded in a big way. UCI’s ranking will be tested immediately as the team travels to No. 8 South Florida this week.
Offense Fuels UCI Success
The 6-0 start for UC Irvine is all the more impressive considering their top two scorers were primarily reserve players with one goal between them in 2010. Senior Christian Hernandez and sophomore Enrique Cardenas have each scored five goals, which is tied for the Big West lead and fourth nationally. The two have produced 10 of UCI’s 16 goals, helping the squad rank 11th in the country in scoring offense at 2.67 goals per game.
One More Thing On That Record...
UC Irvine is the nation’s only undefeated program with six victories. There are nine teams remaining without a loss or a tie. Here is a list of those teams:
UC Irvine 6-0-0
Northern Illinois 5-0-0
Old Dominion 3-0-0
UC Santa Barbara Unanimously Ranked In Top 10
UC Santa Barbara is the only Big West school ranked in the top 10 of all four major polls. The Gauchos are ranked No. 6 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire poll, No. 7 in Soccer Times and College Soccer News, and No. 9 by Soccer America. The Gauchos toppled then-No. 9 West Virginia and battled Villanova to a scoreless draw last week to improve to 4-0-1 on the season. West Virginia was the second ranked opponent that UCSB took down, joining then-No. 22 Duke on the list of victims.
Titans Make Top 25 Debut
Making a splash in the national rankings for the first time since the early part of the 2003 season is Cal State Fullerton. The Titans, thanks to a 4-0-1 start which includes two tournament championships, are ranked No. 24 in this week’s Soccer America poll. A solid defense has yielded just two goals through the first five games. Beginning with a scoreless draw against then-No. 2 Akron, coupled with successive victories against UNLV, Green Bay and San Francisco have propelled CSF into the limelight. The squad heads back east this weekend for games against American and George Mason.
Ags Dispatch Second Straight Pac-12 School
After pulling off a 2-1 overtime upset of then-No. 4 UCLA on Sept. 4, UC Davis focused its attention on another Pac-12 foe in Oregon State. The Beavers received the same fate as their conference counterparts as the Aggies struck for a 1-0 overtime victory on Friday. UCD then battled Cal State Bakersfield to a scoreless draw on Sunday to mark its fourth straight extra time contest. UC Davis has allowed just three goals through five matches with no opponent scoring more than one goal.
Let The Record Show
The Big West is enjoying an impressive start to the 2011 season. The seven league members own a combined 22-7-6 (.714) record against non-conference foes, including wins over teams from the ACC, Big East, Big 10 and Pac 12 conferences. This week key road matches include Cal Poly traveling to No. 4 Akron, UCI at No. 8 South Florida, UCSB at No. 16 UCLA and UC Davis versus No. 13 Northern Illinois.