Four Teams Vie For Big West Women's Soccer Tournament Title
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Women's Soccer Weekly Release No. 12
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This Week in the Big West - October 31-November 6, 2011
2011 Big West Women's Soccer Tournament Central
The 11th annual Big West Women's Soccer Tournament is the focus of this week's action as top seed UC Irvine hosts No. 4 seed UC Davis, while No. 3 seed Cal State Northridge visits No. 2 seed Long Beach State on Thursday. The two winners meet in Sunday's championship.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Lexi Kopf, UC Irvine
Kopf has paired with teammate Natalia Ledezma to give UC Irvine a lethal scoring combination. The duo has combined to score 23 of the team’s 36 goals on the season. Kopf, who ranks third in the Big West with 11 goals, has netted more goals as a senior than in her previous three seasons combined (8). She had a memorable “Senior Day” in the regular season finale against UC Riverside on Sunday when she notched her first career hat trick, striking for three second half goals. Her third goal came in the 90th minute off an assist from her sister, Jordan. Kopf’s performance marked the second straight game that an Anteater had achieved a hat trick after Ledezma did the deed against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 23. The previous UCI hat trick had occurred 15 years ago. Kopf has a penchant for the dramatic as she is tied for the league lead with five game-winning goals.
UC Irvine Repeats As Regular Season Champion
Perfection did not occur in 2011, but the lack of it did not prevent UC Irvine from winning its second straight Big West regular season championship. After becoming the first team in Big West women’s soccer history to finish unbeaten and untied (8-0-0) in 2010, the Anteaters and head coach Scott Juniper entered the season as a prime target. And they struggled to begin league play after tying UC Davis and losing to Pacific on the opening weekend. However, UCI recovered to win its next six league games and dominated in the process, outscoring the opposition 15-1 and finishing with a league-best 19 points and 6-1-1 record. UCI is the first Big West program to capture back-to-back regular season conference titles since Long Beach State won three straight (two shared) from 2006-08.
Long Beach State With Another Solid Campaign
Consistent success has defined the Long Beach State program under head coach Mauricio Ingrassia. He has led the 49ers to double-digit wins in six of the last seven seasons, and supervised the program’s first two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2008 and 2010. With a 13-5-1 overall record, the 49ers are one win away from tying the program record of 14 set three times previously – 2006, 2008 and 2010. The last five seasons have seen Long Beach State rack up 59 wins, an average of nearly 12 per season. That ranks second only to UC Irvine, which has won 63 games over the same span.
MOST OVERALL WINS BY BIG WEST PROGRAMS
School Wins Record Pct.
UC Irvine 63 63-29-10 .667
Long Beach State 59 59-34-10 .621
Cal Poly 50 50-41-7 .546
Pacific 43 43-38-12 .527
UC Santa Barbara 42 42-47-14 .476
Cal State Northridge 42 42-47-7 .474
Cal State Fullerton 40 40-48-11 .460
UC Davis 37 37-44-7 .460
UC Riverside 31 31-51-12 .394
Cal State Fullerton Ties NCAA Overtime Record
Cal State Fullerton tied the NCAA record for most overtime games played in a season after defeating Pacific 1-0 in extra time on Friday. It marked the 11th OT game for the Titans, equalling the record owned by the 2005 William and Mary squad that went 1-1-9 in OR that year. The Titans finished 4-4-3 in extra time contests in 2011.
Cal State Northridge finished in the upper echelon of the Big West standings for the third straight season. The Matadors tied UC Davis for third place with 13 points and identical 4-3-1 records. The effort comes on the heels of a second place finish in 2009 as well as tying for third in 2010.
Picked to finish eighth in the Big West preseason poll by the coaches, UC Davis emerged as the surprise squad of 2011. While the coaches were correct in their predictions for the top three spots – UC Irvine, Long Beach State and Cal State Northridge – they did not anticipate the Aggies sneaking up on the rest of the pack. After all, UC Davis won a combined six league games in its first four seasons as a Big West member. In 2011, however, the Aggies set Division I program records for most conference wins (4), most overall wins (11) and overall winning percentage (.639) as a four-game and a five-game winning streak buoyed their efforts. The 11 wins represent the most for the program since posting 12 victories in 2002 as a member of Division II.
Big West Tournament Preview
The matchups are set for the 11th edition of the Big West Women’s Soccer Tournament, which begins with semifinal action on Thursday, November 3.
No. 2 seed Long Beach State entertains No. 3 seed Cal State Northridge in one semifinal for the second straight year. The contest begins at 2:00 p.m. on George Allen Field. The second semifinal takes place a short ride to the south as No. 1 seed UC Irvine welcomes No. 4 seed UC Davis to Anteater Stadium at 7:00 p.m. The championship game will be held at the site of highest advancing team on Sunday, November 6 at either noon or 1:00 p.m.
No. 2 Long Beach State vs. No. 3 Cal State Northridge
Long Beach State looks to avenge a 1-0 loss to Cal State Northridge on October 14 that took place in Northridge. The Matadors squelched a normally potent 49er offensive attack, winning the battle in shots 14-7 and limiting Big West scoring leader Nadia Link to just one shot. CSUN broke through at the 88:23 mark when Heidi Farran redirected a header from Katie Russ into the bottom left corner of the net for the win over the then-No. 22 ranked 49ers.
The 49ers have won nine of their last 11 games, including three straight. LBSU is also a sparkling 9-1-0 at home this season. The Matadors were outscored 7-1 in their final two Big West games against UC Irvine and UC Riverside, but rebounded with a 3-0 win against non-conference foe Cal State Bakersfield in the regular season finale on Sunday.
This is Long Beach State’s sixth Big West Tournament appearance in the last seven years. The 49ers are the defending tournament champions after they defeated both Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine last year. The Matadors are making their fourth tournament appearance and seeking their first win. CSUN lost in the semifinals in 2004, 2009 and 2010.
No. 1 UC Irvine vs. No. 4 UC Davis
UC Irvine comes in ranked nationally in all three major polls – No. 16 by Soccer America, No. 22 by Soccer Times and No. 24 by NSCAA/Continental Tire. The Anteaters have won six straight, including five by shutout, and are 6-1-0 on their home pitch. UC Davis saw a five-game winning streak come to a halt after being outscored 6-1 in losses to Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton last week.
The Anteaters are 4-5 all-time in Big West Tournament history. They won the tournament championship in 1997, and lost in the finals in 1996 and 2010. The Aggies are making their first tournament appearance. UCI is led by sophomore Natalia Ledezma (12 goals) and senior Lexi Kopf (11 goals), who have accounted for more than half of the UCI offense.
NCAA Selection Show Slated For Monday
The 64-team bracket for the 2011 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship will be unveiled on Monday, Nov. 7 at 1:30 p.m. (PDT) on the NCAA website at www.ncaa.com. The direct link to the show will not be available until early Monday afternoon, but can be accessed through the following page. The first round of the NCAA Tournament will be played on campus sites either next Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Campus sites will also host the NCAA second and third rounds on Friday, November 18 and Sunday, November 20, respectively.