Second Half Of Men's Soccer Conference Play Begins
Files associated with this release:
Mens Soccer Release No. 9
UC Irvine, ranked as high as No. 7 in the national polls and No. 4 in the recently released NCAA Ratings Percentage Index, leads the Big West standings with 12 points as the second half of conference action begins this week.
AROUND THE BIG WEST
KEEP AN EYE ON
Sam Garza, UC Santa Barbara
Garza appears to have regained the form that made him the 2010 Big West Co-Offensive Player of the Year. After amassing 24 points on nine goals and six assists last season, Garza had a mere two goals and one assist through the first 11 games in 2011. However, the UC Santa Barbara phenom has netted a goal in each of the last three games. He recorded the game-winning goal in Gaucho wins over UC Davis (2-1) on Oct. 8 and Cal State Fullerton (6-0) last Tuesday. Despite a relative lack of goal production, Garza has remained active within the offense as he leads the Big West with 48 shots.
Topsy Turvy Big West Race Promises More Drama
The Big West standings currently bear no resemblance to what the seven men’s soccer coaches predicted back in August. In that preseason poll, UC Santa Barbara had gotten the nod to win the regular season crown, followed by Cal Poly and Cal State Fullerton. Defending regular season champion UC Irvine had been picked fourth on the basis of losing several starters and a majority of its goal output from last season. Cal State Northridge, UC Davis and UC Riverside rounded out the poll.
Fast forward to October and the puzzle is quite jumbled. Only Cal Poly has matched expectations in league play with Paul Holocher’s club sitting in a three-way tie for second place. The upstart side is UC Irvine, which has perennially remained in the national top 10 all season long and is the Big West leader with 12 points and a 4-1-0 record. The other surprises? Cal State Northridge and UC Davis are the other two schools in that three-way logjam for second place with the Mustangs. Meanwhile, UC Santa Barbara has stumbled to a 2-3-0 league mark and is in fifth place. However, a strong non-conference performance has enabled the Gauchos to maintain consistent top 25 billing nationally. Cal State Fullerton has fallen from contender status to the bottom of the standings, winless at 0-3-1. The second half league play starts this week and there’s no telling what might happen.
Sellout Crowd Witnesses Holocher’s 50th Win
Cal Poly handed head coach Paul Holocher his 50th career win, one that was extra special as it occurred in front of a sellout crowd against Central Coast rival UC Santa Barbara. The Mustangs cemented the 2-1 victory on Friday against the No. 12-Gauchos on a penalty kick goal by senior Patrick Sigler that sent most of the 11,075 fans in Spanos Stadium home happy. It was Cal Poly’s second sellout at Spanos Stadium and first since a 1-0 loss against UCSB on Oct. 17, 2008. Nine of the top 24 regular season crowds in NCAA history have occurred within the Cal Poly-UC Santa Barbara rivalry, and all since 2007. Holocher improved to 50-40-20 all-time with the victory.
Matadors Buck Mustang Trend
While Cal Poly enjoyed beating UCSB on Friday, three days earlier the Mustangs dropped a 2-0 decision to Cal State Northridge. The Matadors stopped an eight-game winless streak (four ties, four losses) against the Mustangs that dated back to Oct. 26, 2005. The win put CSUN in a tie for first place with UC Irvine, but the Matadors got booted from that perch after a 2-1 loss to UC Davis.
Entire Big West Membership In NCAA RPI Top 80
The first release of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) took place on Tuesday and the Big West got rave reviews. All seven Big West members are ranked in the top 80, led by UC Irvine at No. 4 and UC Santa Barbara at No. 14. The Big West is tied for third nationally among conferences with teams in the RPI top 80, but is the only league with 100 percent of its membership in that echelon. Cal State Fullerton is ranked No. 46, followed by Cal State Northridge (55), Cal Poly (57), UC Davis (73) and UC Riverside (78).
CONFERENCES WITH TEAMS IN NCAA RPI TOP 80
Conf. Top 80 teams Total Teams Pct.
Big East 10 16 62.5
Colonial 8 12 66.7
Big West 7 7 100.0
ACC 7 9 77.8
Ivy 5 8 62.5
C-USA 5 9 55.6
UC Irvine Offense Still Going Strong
UC Irvine utilized a veteran-laded squad in 2010 to the tune of a Big West-leading 46 goals. But heading into 2011, the Anteaters had lost their top seven scorers who contributed 34 of those 46 scores. All the Anteaters did was reload. The team again leads the Big West circuit with 34 goals, a total that also ranks as the third-most in the country. The Anteaters rank eighth nationally with 2.27 goals per game. A balanced attack has catapulted UCI to first place in the Big West at 4-1-0, with contributors such as Christian Hernandez (six goals), Miguel Ibarra (six goals) and Enrique Cardenas (five goals) keeping opposing goaltenders busy.
Silva Nearing Big West Career Top 10 In Assists
UC Santa Barbara senior Luis Silva, a two-time All-Big West first team performer, produced two goals and two assists in a 6-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday. The two assists lifted his career total to 17. Silva now needs just two more helpers to join five others for 10th place in the Big West career top 10. Three more assists would give Silva the distinction of being only the 10th player in Big West history to compile 20 career assists.
UC Riverside Record Push Stalled
UC Riverside is on the cusp of perhaps tying or exceeding the program record for wins at the Division I level, but that push has hit a snag. The Highlanders are winless in their last four games (0-3-1) and have been outscored 12-2 during that span. With a current mark of 6-5-2, the Highlanders are looking to establish a new benchmark for wins, a mark initially established at seven by the 2003 and 2004 squads. UCR has at least five more matches on the schedule, beginning with a Wednesday home game against Cal State Northridge.
Ags Go To Overtime Again
UC Davis defeated Cal State Northridge, 2-1, in overtime on Saturday. It was the league-leading eighth overtime match for the Aggies this season. They are 3-3-2 in extra period affairs in 2011.
Titans Look To Rekindle Offense
Frustrations continued for Cal State Fullerton last week as a 6-0 loss to No. 12 UC Santa Barbara and a 1-1 tie against UC Riverside extended the Titans’ winless streak to five straight games. The Titans are 0-3-2 in their last five outings and have not won since beating Denver, 4-2, on Sept. 23. CSF has struggled to score goals with just two in the last five games. During CSF’s impressive 6-1-1 start to the season, the Titans scored 18 goals.