UC Irvine Rejoins National Rankings at No. 16 in Soccer America
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This Week in the Big West - October 28-November 3, 2013
Men's Soccer Release No. 10
The Big West boasts three nationally ranked men's soccer squads this week as UC Irvine reentered the Soccer America poll at No. 16, Cal State Northridge is ranked as high as No. 13 while UC Santa Barbara, which already has clinched the North Division, is No. 14.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Two Points: Cal Poly managed identical 1-1 ties against UC Davis and No. 21 UC Santa Barbara last week, picking up two points and taking over sole possession of second place in the Big West North Division. The Mustangs last forged back-to-back ties in October of 2008 against UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.
Pridham Snatches Goals Lead: Senior Mackenzie Pridham retook the Big West lead in goals from Cal State Northridge’s Sagi Lev-Ari, breaking the tie when he scored at the 85:05 mark against UC Davis on Tuesday. It was Pridham’s 12th goal of the season, placing him No. 3 in Cal Poly single-season history.
Another Sellout: Cal Poly’s double overtime draw against rival UC Santa Barbara was played in front of 11,075 fans, marking the third straight sellout in the series at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. That figure tied for the 10th-largest regular season crowd in NCAA history. Eleven of the top 33 regular season crowds in NCAA history have involved Cal Poly.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Tough Setbacks: With an opportunity to tie for or take control of first place in the Big West South Division, the Titans whiffed with back-to-back heartbreaking 2-1 losses to No. 5 Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside last week. CSF is winless in its last three matches heading into a pivotal Saturday showdown at UC Irvine.
An Outpouring Of Goals: The last time Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine met on the pitch – Oct. 19 at Titan Stadium – the two squads combined for three goals during a wild 53-second span late in the second half and finished in a 2-2 tie. The last time the Titans won a regular season contest at Anteater Stadium was in 2007. CSF also won there in the 2010 Big West Tournament semifinals.
Overtime Blues: The Titans dropped their third overtime match of 2013 when they lost to Cal State Northridge Saturday. It was CSF’s fourth OT match overall, with the team going 0-3-1. The Titans were the exact opposite in 2012, finishing 3-0-1 in extra period affairs.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
No Slumping: After going 16 straight matches without getting shutout, including the first 13 this season, Cal State Northridge has been blanked in two of its last three outings. The Matadors were limited to a season-low six shots in a 1-0 loss to UC Irvine on Saturday. Despite the brief lull in scoring, the Matadors still rank tied for sixth nationally with 34 goals this season.
Two In Top Ten: The Matadors have recorded 48 assists so far in 2013, putting them at No. 8 in Big West single-season annals. Seniors Carlos Benavides and Chris Smith have contributed to that cause over the course of their careers. Benavides, with 22 assists, is tied for ninth on the conference’s career list, while Smith is No. 10 with 20.
Velasquez Stands For Victory: A key cog in the Matador success is senior Beto Velasquez. The forward produced a goal and an assist in CSUN’s 2-1 overtime victory against Cal State Fullerton last Wednesday, giving him at least one point in seven of the last 10 games. The Matadors are 9-1 this year when he has a goal or an assist.
Hornets Sting Rival: The Hornets halted a six-match losing streak with a 1-0 road victory against Causeway Cup rival UC Davis Saturday. The game’s only goal was scored in the 37th minute when senior Isaac Ikyurav, seated on the ground, found a way to lift a shot past the Aggie goalkeeper.
Close Encounters: Eleven of Sacramento State’s 15 contests this season have either resulted in ties or been decided by one goal.
Castillo Nears Top Five In Saves: Senior keeper Cesar Castillo stayed busy as he combined for 13 saves in last week’s matches against UC Santa Barbara and Davis. His seven stops versus the Aggies marked the sixth time this season he has recorded as many saves or more. With a league-leading 84 saves, Castillo needs two more to tie two others for fifth in Hornet single-season history.
Multi Goal Quest: The Hornets have gone 17 straight games without scoring multiple goals. The last time they did so was on Oct. 27, 2012 against Cal Poly (3-2), which is Sacramento State’s opponent on Saturday.
Bugaboo: The Aggies were shutout for the seventh time this season in a 1-0 loss to Sacramento State on Saturday. In what has been a frustrating trend, UC Davis outshot its opponent in six of those losses and tied in the shot department in the other. In most cases, the Aggies have held a significant advantage in shots yet have had trouble finding the back of the net.
Last Times Out: UC Davis takes another crack at North Division rival UC Santa Barbara this Saturday. In their last meeting on Oct. 19, the Aggies held a 2-1 lead with less than a minute to play in regulation, but let the equalizing goal slip through with 56 seconds remaining in an eventual 3-2 double overtime setback. The good news is that Davis knocked off the Gauchos in Santa Barbara last year by a 2-1 score.
Zeenni Returns: School record holder in saves, Omar Zeenni, returned in goal for the first time since Oct. 11 at Cal State Fullerton and paid big dividends for the Aggies against Cal Poly on Tuesday. The senior made six saves to increase his career total to 209.
Takedown: UC Irvine dispatched its third top-25 opponent of 2013 with Saturday’s 1-0 triumph at No. 5 Cal State Northridge. The Anteaters previously enjoyed wins over No. 16 Louisville and No. 11 UCLA. All three opponents are ranked in the top 30 of the NCAA’s latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
Double-Digit Deluxe: The Anteaters look to continue a tradition of success, seeking their 10th win on Saturday against visiting Cal State Fullerton. A favorable outcome would give UCI at least 10 wins for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Secret To Success: The Anteaters have won this season largely due to timely scoring and stiff defense. Consider that UCI is 9-0-1 when sophomore netminder Michael Breslin allows one goal or less. However, the team is winless when he allows two goals (0-4-2). In terms of consistency, the UCI defense has not yielded more than two goals in a single match all season. The team’s 0.89 goals against average ranks second in the Big West and No. 48 nationally. UCI’s seven shutout wins lead the conference.
Moving Up: UC Riverside crept within three points of a Big West Tournament berth in the South Division with a crucial 2-1 victory at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday. The win tightened the divisional race as the Highlanders are separated from first place by just six points. The top three teams in each division advance to the league tournament.
Welcome To The Party: Freshman forward Tyler Miguel scored the first two goals of his collegiate career, including the game-winner, to help the Highlanders knock off the Titans. Miguel tapped in Otis Earle’s cross into the box at the 85:17 mark to secure the victory.
Big Duel Ahead: UC Riverside takes on Big West South Division co-leader Cal State Northridge for its only match this week. The Saturday showdown finishes off a three-match roadtrip for the Highlanders. In the previous meeting between the two teams on Oct. 19, they battled to a scoreless draw. It marked the first time in 16 straight matches that CSUN had been held without a goal.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Champs: UC Santa Barbara wrapped up the Big West North Division title with three games to play with its 1-1 tie at Cal Poly last week. The Gauchos clinched their first league crown since 2009 and punched their ticket to the Big West Tournament after missing the field last year.
Campion Strikes Again: Senior Achille Campion took back the team lead in goals and moved up to No. 3 in the Big West with his seventh strike of the season, occurring just before halftime against the Mustangs and preserving the 1-1 tie. It marked the fourth goal for Campion in his last six games. The forward has accumulated 13 goals in just 23 career games for the Gauchos. He is also fifth in the Big West with 16 points.
Jome’s The Lucky Charm: Freshman Ismaila Jome scored a goal and assisted on another in UCSB’s 2-1 win against Sacramento State last Tuesday. Jome’s golden goal marked the first game-winner of his career. UCSB is an impressive 6-0 when Jome records a point. His six assists on the season are tied for No. 4 in the Big West.