UC Santa Barbara Looks To Stay Unbeaten In Conference Play
Men's Soccer Release No. 8
Winners of five straight and ranked No. 3 in the latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) release, UC Santa Barbara reentered the national rankings this week at No. 20 in Soccer America. The Gauchos take their 4-0 Big West record into a Saturday showdown against UC Davis.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Grounded: Underlying the impressive nature of Cal Poly’s torrid scoring pace to start the season, the team still leads the country in goals scored (33) despite being limited to one goal over the last three contests – all losses. Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge has tamed that vaunted offense and has outscored the Mustangs 6-1 over that span.
Put A Stop To It: This is the first time during head coach Paul Holocher’s eight-year tenure that the Mustangs have lost three Big West games in a row. Cal Poly has not dropped four consecutive league contests since 2005. That year, the team began Big West play 0-9.
Tough Matchup Ahead: Cal Poly faces a Sacramento State squad that is 0-4 in Big West play, but don’t expect an easy road match on Saturday. The Mustangs tied the Hornets 1-1 in Sacramento last year.
Game Winners: Senior Mackenzie Pridham is tied for fourth in Big West history with 10 career game-winning goals.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Great Start: Cal State Fullerton’s sweep of UC Davis and Sacramento State last week propelled the program to its first 3-1 Big West start since the 2001 season. The Titans are currently tied with Cal State Northridge for the lead in the Big West South Division.
On The Defensive: For the first time in school history, the Titans have shutout three straight Big West opponents. In 2000, Fullerton blanked Cal State Northridge, UC Santa Barbara and New Mexico consecutively, but that was as a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Titans enter their matchup against UC Irvine on Friday having not allowed a goal in the last 291:27.
Quick Strikes: During CSF’s recent string of success, the Titans have raced out to an early lead in each win. They scored in the 11th minute versus Cal Poly, the fifth against UC Davis and the 25th against Sacramento State. Senior keeper Bryan Escalante made a combined 13 saves over the three wins and accounted for all three clean sheets for the Titans.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Nation’s Leaders: Cal State Northridge enters the week atop several NCAA statistical categories, including points per game (8.31), total assists (44), total points (108) and assists per game (3.38). The Matadors also rank second in the country in total goals (32) and scoring offense (2.46).
Sharing Is Caring: The 44 assists the Matadors have heaped on top of their 32 goals already ranks tied for ninth in a season in Big West history.
Big Helper: Seven Matadors have four or more assists on the season. And Carlos Benavides is not one of them. The senior midfielder has three, but his latest helper in Sunday’s Cal Poly match upped his career total to 21, which placed him at No. 10 all-time in Big West annals.
Hobbs Nobbing: Sophomore goalkeeper Adam Hobbs picked up his 11th win of the season in Sunday’s 3-1 triumph over Cal Poly. Hobbs is tied for sixth in the Matador record book for single-season wins, one shy of moving into fifth.
Tough Turnaround: The Hornets started out their inaugural foray through the Big West in 2012 with a 4-0 record and were unbeaten through five conference games. Then the Hornets struggled the rest of the way with just one win in their final six contests. In 2013, Sacramento State is off to an 0-4 Big West start, but hopes to reverse the trend starting this week against Cal Poly.
Scoring Drought: The Hornets were shutout for the fifth and sixth times this season in losses to UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton last week. They have failed to score more than one goal in any match and own a league-low six goals scored.
Scoring Chances: Despite the low scoring totals, Sacramento State is creating enough scoring chances to produce success. Eight times in 12 matches the Hornets have taken double-digit shots, including 15 versus the Highlanders and 11 more against the Titans.
Mustang Corraling: Sacramento State had some success last year against Big West North Division contender and this week’s foe Cal Poly, producing a tie and a win last year.
Nice Rebound: After suffering its second straight shutout loss, UC Davis rebounded with a 2-0 win at UC Riverside Sunday to collect multiple goals for the third time in five games. The Aggies began the weekend with a tough 1-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton.
Wiesenfarth Finding Form: After notching 13 points en route to 2011 Big West Freshman of the Year accolades, Matt Wiesenfarth struggled some in his sophomore campaign, scoring both of his goals in the regular season finale. And while he didn’t record a point through the first eight games of the 2013 season, the forward seems to have rediscovered his offensive prowess, as he has posted three goals and an assist in the last five.
Quezada Big In First Start: Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Armando Quezada made his first collegiate start Sunday against UC Riverside, and responded with five saves and a 2-0 shutout. He replaced senior Omar Zeenni, who became the school’s all-time saves leader with 197 in Friday’s battle with Cal State Fullerton.
Splitsville: UC Irvine recorded its second straight 1-1 week in Big West play after blanking Cal Poly (2-0) and falling to UC Santa Barbara (2-1 in OT). The Anteaters have followed each loss with a win this season and hope that trend continues against cross-county rival Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
Iwasa Continues Onslaught: Junior Cameron Iwasa recorded his second straight game-winning goal, scoring just 6:06 into the match against Cal Poly Friday. It was his fifth goal of the season, all coming in a six-game stretch. Iwasa was held out of the scoring column Sunday versus UC Santa Barbara, but still collected four shots, the sixth time he has had that many attempts in a match.
More On Iwasa: Iwasa’s goal against Cal Poly also happened to be the 1,000th UCI goal in the history of Anteater Stadium, men or women.
Cardenas Making Presence Known: Senior Enrique Cardenas has 10 points over his last seven games.
Streak Snapped: UC Riverside halted a four-match losing streak in a 1-0 shutout victory over Sacramento State on Friday. Senior Ruben Valencia provided the game-winning score in the 63rd minute, his first goal of the year, to give the Highlanders three key Big West points.
Khosravi Earns Shutout: After an injury sidelined him for the first 10 games of 2013, sophomore keeper Ashkan Khosravi has started the last three games. He posted his first shutout of the season Sunday, making four saves against the Hornets.
Beware: No. 6-ranked Cal State Northridge visits the Inland Empire Saturday for the start of Big West intradivisional play. As dominant the Matadors have been so far this season, they should be wary of what the Highlanders have done before to highly ranked opponents. After all, UCR hosted and upset then-No. 7 UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, in front of a school record crowd of 2,016 on Sept. 28, 2011.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Consistency: UC Santa Barbara needs one more win to secure its 13th straight double-digit victory season. The Gauchos have won 10 or more games in every year since 2001, a streak that began in Tim Vom Steeg’s third season. The Gauchos look to accomplish that feat at rival UC Davis this Saturday.
Winning: The Gauchos are riding a season-high five-match win streak, the program’s longest since an identical run near the end of the 2011 campaign. UCSB last won six straight games in 2010.
More Winning: UCSB’s four straight wins to open Big West play is its best start since 2009, when the team also began 4-0 and finished with an 8-1-1 conference record.
Charitable Murphy: Freshman Drew Murphy has been in a giving mood lately with four assists over the last four games. He now shares the Big West lead with Cal State Northridge’s Beto Velasquez and Cal Poly’s Chase Minter, who also have six assists on the season.