Men's Soccer Braces For Wild Ride As Conference Play Begins
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Mens Soccer Release No. 6
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This Week in the Big West - September 26-October 2, 2011
A trio of schools – Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara – are ranked nationally in the men's soccer top 25 as an ultra competitive league schedule begins this week. The Big West compiled an impressive 33-16-8 non-conference record over the season's first month.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
KEEP AN EYE ON
Nick Posthuma, Cal State Fullerton
After missing the first two matches due to injury and going scoreless for two games upon his return, Posthuma has found an offensive rhythm. The senior has notched at least one point in four consecutive matches. He has tallied seven points on two goals and three assists, and is second on the team in terms of offensive production. The All-Big West First Team selection in 2010 sports 15 career goals.
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.
Let The Games Begin
The 10-game Big West schedule begins this week and the race for the title is expected to be an absolute dogfight. Three nationally ranked programs – Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara – inhabit the conference roster and five of the seven schools finished non-league play with .500 or better records. A couple of much anticipated matchups take place this week, including the rivalry renewal between UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara this Saturday at Meredith Field in Harder Stadium. The Anteaters also host an important contest against Cal Poly on opening night Wednesday. UCI is undefeated at home at 4-0-0 while UCSB remains unbeaten on its own pitch at 4-0-1.
All seven Big West men’s soccer programs have either equalled or exceeded their non-conference win totals (not counting postseason play) from a year ago. Cal State Fullerton has enjoyed the biggest improvement, making a +4 jump in the win column. Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara emerged from the opening month of play with two additional wins from a year ago. The turnaround is particularly noticeable as far as the Big West’s overall non-conference record, a sparkling 33-16-8 which includes wins over teams from the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Pac-12 and West Coast conferences. UCI ranks fifth in the nation in winning percentage (.889), while CSF and UCSB are tied for 15th (.813).
NON-CONFERENCE RECORD COMPARISON
School 2010 2011 Gms Left
Cal Poly 3-3-1 3-3-2 0
Cal State Fullerton 2-5-2 6-1-1 1
Cal State Northridge 1-7-1 3-4-1 1
UC Davis 2-6-0 2-4-2 0
UC Irvine 7-1-1 8-1-0 1
UC Riverside 3-4-1 5-2-1 0
UC Santa Barbara 4-2-2 6-1-1 1
Record Crowds Bringin’ The Noise At Harder
UC Santa Barbara has led the country in average attendance in each of the last four seasons, giving the program what many consider the nation’s best home field advantage. The fans came out in droves once again last Friday and witnessed the Gauchos dismantle San Diego, 3-0, before 13,772 at Meredith Field in Harder Stadium. It was the largest crowd to witness a collegiate men’s soccer match this season, and the second-largest to attend a game at Harder. A total of 15,896 fans viewed a showdown between UCSB and UCLA last season. They are the two highest crowds ever for a college regular-season game at a campus venue.
UC Riverside Enjoying Program Turnaround
Road victories against North Florida and Jacksonville last week improved UC Riverside’s record to 5-2-1 and extended its unbeaten streak to five straight games. It is the longest such streak in the 10-plus year history of the program. The record also represents the latest a Highlander team has been above the .500 mark since October of 2007 when they were 4-3-5 through 12 contests. With a minimum of 10 games remaining on the schedule, UCR needs just two more wins to tie the program record of seven set by the 2003 and 2004 squads.
Titans Off To Best Start In Over A Decade
Cal State Fullerton defeated Denver, 4-2, on Friday to rise to 6-1-1 overall. It is the best start for a Titan squad since the 1999 team began 7-1-0 through eight games. The Titans returned to the top 25 after a one week absence, coming in at No. 19 in College Soccer News and No. 25 in Soccer Times. The Titans allowed only two goals through their first six contests, and although each of their last two opponents have scored twice, CSF has been explosive offensively. The team is averaging almost three goals over its last six games.
Cal State Northridge is accustomed to attaining a good result in Big West openers. Consider that the Matadors have not lost a conference opener since 2002, when they fell to UC Irvine at home. CSUN tied Cal State Fullerton in the 2007 opener. Otherwise, the Matadors have found themselves in the win column and hope to do so again when they trek to UC Davis on Wednesday.
Putting In Extra Time
It is almost expected that UC Davis will be involved in an overtime game. The Aggies have done just that in six of their eight games, including all five at home this season. The program record for most overtime contests in one season was eight in 1992. UCD has gone to double overtime four times. The Aggies are 2-2-2 overall in extra period games.
For the fourth consecutive week, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are both ranked in the top 10 of at least one of the four major polls. In fact, both programs are ranked in the top 10 in all four polls.The Gauchos have been ranked anywhere from sixth to ninth since the preseason. This week UCSB is No. 7 in Soccer America, College Soccer News and Soccer Times, and No. 10 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire poll. The Anteaters are ranked No. 7 by NSCAA/Continental Tire, No. 8 in Soccer America and Soccer Times, and No. 9 in College Soccer News. Cal State Fullerton’s presence in two of the four top 25 polls gives the Big West three nationally ranked teams for the second time this season.