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Men's Soccer

UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara Kick Off League Play In Battle Of Ranked Clubs

9/25/2012

Men's Soccer Release No. 6

It's a showdown between the top teams in the North and South Divisions as No. 3 UC Santa Barbara travels to No. 24 UC Riverside to begin Big West men's soccer conference action Friday.  The Highlanders defeated the Gauchos in both meetings last year.

BIG WEST AT A GLANCE

•The Big West posted another winning week in non-conference play to improve the overall record to 36-25-8.  Attention now turns to league action as the 10-game Big West schedule kicks off Friday.

• This is the first year that each school plays a 10-game conference schedule.  The league is divided up into two divisions – North and South.  Each school plays a double round robin against teams within its division and one game against each team in the opposite division.  The North Division comprises Cal Poly, Sacramento State, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, while the South includes Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge, UC Irvine and UC Riverside.

• UC Santa Barbara is the Big West’s lone team to escape unscathed from non-conference play.  The Gauchos remain unbeaten at 6-0-2 and are ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation by in the NSCAA/Continental Tire and Soccer Times polls.  They are also No. 5 in Soccer America and No. 7 in College Soccer News.

• UC Riverside saw its undefeated season go by the wayside in a 2-0 loss to Cal State Bakersfield Sunday.  The Highlanders still set Division I era school records for best start (7-0-0) and longest winning streak, and head into Big West play as one of the favorites.  After being unanimously ranked in all four polls last week, UCR maintained some love in this week’s College Soccer News and NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings, checking in at No. 24 in both.

• A showdown between UCSB and UCR greets the schedule in Friday’s league openers.  The Highlanders beat the nationally ranked Gauchos twice in 2011, including a 3-1 home victory on Sept. 28 before a school record crowd of 2,016.

• Cal State Northridge sophomore Sagi Lev-Ari leads the Big West and ranks third nationally with nine goals scored.  No Matador had more than eight goals since 2004 when Willie Sims scored 16.

• Cal State Fullerton boasts a season-best three-match winning streak after opening the season with six losses in its first seven games.  Senior Jesse Escalante has keyed the resurgence with a goal scored in five consecutive games.  He ranks second in the Big West in goals with six.

• For the fifth year, institutions will air select matches on BigWest.TV, including all Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara contests.  For the 2012 season, all BigWest.TV events will air free of charge.  Head to thisweek for weekly event schedules.

BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West’s ten member institutions. Now in its eighth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women’s volleyball as well as men’s and women’s basketball.  Also covered are select contests in men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, softball and Big West Conference Championships.

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