Cal State Northridge Hosts Tournament To Open 2013 Season
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This Week in the Big West - August 26-September 1, 2013
Men's Soccer Release No. 1
Cal State Northridge opens its quest to repeat as Big West men's soccer champion this weekend as the host of the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament, welcoming a field with fellow conference member Cal State Fullerton, Memphis and Albany. UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly hope to turn heads in the heartland as their seasons begin with formidable tests against No. 19 Northwestern and No. 6 Creighton, respectively.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
For Openers: The Mustangs begin their season on the road for the third time in the last four years. Cal Poly heads to the midwest for a Friday opener against Drake, then faces No. 6 Creighton in a Sunday showdown. The Mustangs are 12-7 all-time in season openers.
Pridham Reeling In Accolades: Senior Mackenzie Pridham scored 11 goals en route to 2012 Big West Offensive Player of the Year honors, and the accolades have continued to pile up before the 2013 season has begun. Pridham is on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, bestowed upon the nation’s top Division I men’s soccer player, and recently learned he is a finalist for the 2013 Senior CLASS award. In addition, the Big West’s eight coaches voted him onto the 11-player preseason all-conference team.
Hamilton Returns In Net: Sophomore goalkeeper Wade Hamilton contributed to Cal Poly’s stout defense, which allowed only 20 goals in 19 matches. Hamilton recorded a 1.10 goals against average in 11 starts last season.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
For Openers: Head coach Bob Ammann is 5-1-1 all-time in season openers while at the Cal State Fullerton helm. The Titans are competing in the Cal State Northridge-hosted Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament to kick off the 2013 campaign. CSF squares off against Memphis and Albany (NY) on the opening weekend.
Ramos Tagged Preseason All-Conference: Cal State Fullerton junior Ian Ramos tied for fifth in the Big West with 18 points on six goals and six assists last year. The midfielder led the Titans in assists and shots on goal (20), and looks to play an even bigger role this season.
Roadies: The Titans play just two of their first 10 games on the home turf. Among the non-conference games on their schedule is an east coast swing to face Cornell and Colgate, followed by a single game against Nebraska-Omaha.
Sign Of Things To Come?: Garrett Losee, a transfer from BYU, recorded a hat trick in CSF’s 3-2 exhibition victory against UNLV on Thursday.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
For Openers: The Matadors have won the their last two season openers and seek number three in the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament against Albany (NY) on Friday. CSUN also faces Memphis Sunday as part of a four-game homestand to kick off the season.
Offense A Plenty: Cal State Northridge returnees account for 37 of the 41 goals that were scored last year. The lethal trio of Sagi Lev-Ari, Edwin Rivas and Beto Velasquez combined for 31 of those scores, with Lev-Ari notching a conference-high 15 goals. Lev-Ari was named to the NSCAA All-Far West Region Second Team.
Benavides Receiving High Praise: The individual who set up a bunch of CSUN’s goals in 2012 was midfielder Carlos Benavides. He led the Big West with 10 assists, a total that tied for ninth in single-season school history. Entering his senior year, Benavides has received national attention as Top Drawer Soccer rated him No. 39 player on its list of the nation’s top 100 players.
For Openers: Sacramento State enters its second season as an associate member in men’s soccer. The Hornets take on San Jose State in their season opener on Friday.
Linenberger’s 25th Season: Michael Linenberger enters his 25th season as the head coach of the Sacramento State program. He inherits a team that lost eight of its 11 starters from a year ago but brings in perhaps the best recruiting class in school history.
Season In Review: The Hornets made an impact on the Big West in their first season of competition, finishing 8-8-2 overall and 5-4-1 in league play, narrowly missing a berth into the conference tournament. Sacramento State roared out to a 4-0 Big West start and remained unbeaten when it forged a tie with Cal Poly in the fifth match. But the Hornets lost four of their last five contests.
Scoring Duo Returns: Seniors Isaac Ikyurav and Gabe Silveira provide a solid core of goal scoring ability as both players notched a team-high tying five goals last year. They accounted for nearly half the 22 goals the team scored.
For Openers: The Aggies encounter a challenging opening weekend of activity as they play in the Nike Portland Invitational against Portland and Oregon State. This marks the fourth time in the last five seasons that the Aggies have opened up on the road. UC Davis won last year’s season opener at home versus UNLV.
Zeenni Poised For Record Book: Perhaps the top returning netminder in the Big West is senior Omar Zeenni. An All-Big West Second Team selection in 2012, Zeenni recorded an impressive 0.91 goals against average with six shutouts. He enters his senior year tied for ninth in Big West annals with a 1.00 career GAA. As long as he stays healthy, Zeenni should break into the Big West top 10 in shutouts, goalie minutes and matches in goal by season’s end.
Building On Success: UC Davis finished a 10-7-4 record last season, marking the first time since 2008 that the program collected double-digit victories. The Aggies managed that without a go-to scorer, as four different players tied for the team lead with three goals apiece.
For Openers: UC Irvine has won its last three season openers and looks to extend that streak when Marist visits Anteater Stadium on Friday. The Anteaters also host Iona on the opening weekend before embarking on a four-game roadtrip that concludes with showdowns at No. 10 Louisville and No. 1 Indiana.
Time For A Turnaround: Five losses by one goal to nationally ranked opponents contributed heavily to UCI’s 5-14-1 record in 2012. Motivation won’t be in short supply for the eight players who accounted for all 25 goals the team put up on the stat sheet. With all eight returning, goal scoring chores will be a shared effort but junior Cameron Iwasa is expected to contribute in a big way. Iwasa had a team-leading six goals last year.
Preseason Recognition: Both Iwasa and senior Marco Franco were recognized on the Preseason Big West All-Conference Team. Franco was named an honorable mention all-conference recipient last season. He has eight career assists.
For Openers: After opening the 2012 season at Iona and Marist, the Gaels and Red Foxes make a return trip to southern California to battle the Highlanders on the opening weekend of 2013. UCR won both games on that roadtrip, and snapped a four-year losing streak in season openers in the process.
Top Returnees: The Highlanders bring back two of their top scorers from a year ago in seniors Aaron Long and Ruben Valencia. Long, an All-Big West First Team choice, led UC Riverside with six goals and 13 points in 2012. He earned a spot on this year’s preseason all-conference team as voted on by the head coaches. Valencia totalled four goals, including a pair of game-winners.
New Coach In Store: Junior Gonzalez left his post as the UC Riverside head coach in July to accept an assistant position with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer. Assistant Coach Tim Cupello is serving as UCR’s interim head coach for the 2013 season after helping the Highlanders established a program record for wins with 10 last year.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: The Gauchos are looking for redemption in 2013 after missing the postseason for the first time in 11 years. UCSB started out last season red hot, unbeaten in its first 11 games (8-0-3), but a slew of injuries facilitated a late season slide as the Gauchos lost six of their final eight games.
Campion, Champion: Big things are expected from senior forward Achille Campion. In an injury-riddled 2012 season, Campion still managed to score six goals in just seven games. He returns healthy this season and hopes to be a dominating presence in the Gaucho attack.
National Attention: Senior Fifi Baiden notched All-Big West First Team honors in 2012 for his outstanding play as a defensive midfielder. Top Drawer Soccer took notice and anointed him No. 38 on its top 100 list of the nation’s best collegiate soccer players. His teammate, Campion, earned the No. 100 ranking. Both Baiden and Campion were recently honored with spots on the Big West preseason all-conference team.