Teams Jostle For Men's Soccer Tournament Berths
Men's Soccer Release No. 11
Teams are jockeying for slots in the Big West Men's Soccer Tournament entering the final week of regular season play. UC Irvine is in prime position to lock up the South Division title, but must fight off its top pursuer in Cal State Northridge as the two squads are set to square off in the finale.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Tournament Bound: Cal Poly locked up a berth in the Big West Tournament with Saturday’s 4-2 win against Sacramento State. The Mustangs can assure themselves a hosting opportunity in a first-round match on Nov. 12 with a victory over UC Davis on Wednesday.
Pridham Ties Career Goals Mark: Senior Mackenzie Pridham scored the 26th goal of his career in Saturday’s win, matching the Cal Poly career record set by Clay Harty (1995-96) and matched by David Zamora (2007-10). In registering his career-high 13th goal of the season, Pridham also maintained his grip on the Big West lead.
Game-Winning Greatness: Pridham’s goal also accounted for his fifth game-winner of the year and 12th of his career, which gives him sole possession of third place in Big West annals.
All-Time Best: The Mustangs now have a program single-season record 41 goals, eclipsing the 40 by the 1995 team.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Backpedaling: After enjoying a stretch with five wins in a six-game span, the Titans have gone winless in their last four outings. Cal State Fullerton’s losing streak reached three in a row after falling at UC Irvine on Saturday, with each setback coming by an identical 2-1 score.
Vasquez Joins Scoring Fray: Junior Mark Vasquez scored a late goal in the UC Irvine match for his first of the year. He became the 13th different Titan to record a goal this season. The Titans are the only team in the Big West with that many goal scorers, although no player owns more than three goals.
What’s In Store: The Titans are tied with UC Riverside for third place in the Big West South Division with 10 points. The top three teams in the division advance to the Big West Tournament. CSF hosts Cal State Northridge and visits UCR in two key contests this week. A number of possible scenarios exist that affect CSF’s postseason hopes, so stay tuned for this week’s action.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
Stuck In Molasses: One of the nation’s top goal scoring teams suddenly seems like it’s forgotten how to find the back of the net. For the third time in the last four matches, Cal State Northridge was held without a goal, and the Matadors were shutout for the second straight time in Saturday’s 1-0 loss to UC Riverside.
Road Kinder?: Normally a juggernaut on its home turf, the Matadors have lost four of their last six matches played at Matador Soccer Field. In contrast, CSUN has not lost a road or neutral-site match this season, posting a 5-0-1 mark.
Much On The Line: CSUN’s two-game losing streak allowed UC Irvine to take over the South Division lead at 16 points with two regular season games left to play. The Matadors sit in second place with 13 points. CSUN is still in contention to capture the division with games this week at Cal State Fullerton and UCI.
Defense Strong: The CSUN defense remains solid, having yielded just six goals over the last nine contests.
Still In Contention: The Hornets are clinging to Big West Tournament hopes, but they still have a chance. Sacramento State needs to win its final two games at home against UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis, coupled with an Aggie loss or tie against Cal Poly. Three North Division teams qualify for the tournament, and the Hornets and Aggies are vying for the final spot.
Luna Eclipse: Sophomore Edwin Luna became the first Hornet to record multiple points in a match this season when he notched one goal and one assist versus Cal Poly. Luna took over the team’s scoring lead with eight points.
Streak Ends: The Hornets had gone 17 straight games without scoring multiple goals, but halted that streak in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to Cal Poly. The previous multi-goal effort also took place against Cal Poly, a 3-2 win on Oct. 27, 2012.
Castillo Moves Into Top Five: Senior keeper Cesar Castillo picked up seven saves against Cal Poly, giving him 91 for the year and moving him into fourth all-time in Hornet single-season annals.
What’s Next: The Aggies can reach the Big West Tournament for the fourth time in six years with a win in their regular season home finale against Cal Poly on Wednesday. An Aggie loss coupled with a Sacramento State win over UC Santa Barbara sets up a showdown on Saturday between the two Causeway Cup rivals for the final tourney spot.
Rough-Housing: The rivalry between Davis and Santa Barbara was in full force on Saturday, as the two squads combined for 54 fouls in a 1-1 draw. It was the first tie between the two teams since 2008.
Sheldon Strikes: The Aggies are 3-0-2 on the year when junior Matt Sheldon scores a goal. UC Davis got its only goal from Sheldon’s foot in the UCSB match. It was the team-leading fifth of the year for Sheldon.
Overtime Talk: Three of the Aggies’ last four contests have gone into overtime after playing just one match of that variety through the first 13. UC Davis is 0-1-3 in OT matches.
Surging: UC Irvine’s late season surge continued last week with a 2-1 victory at home against Cal State Fullerton. It was UCI’s third straight win, and the sixth overall this season by a one goal margin. The Anteaters are 6-2 in one-goal affairs, in sharp contrast to 2012 when they struggled to a 2-11 mark.
Another 10-Win Season: The Anteaters reached the 10-win plateau for the fifth time in the last six seasons, and doubled their win total from all of last season in Saturday’s triumph against CSF.
Multiple Weapons: Big goals have come from various sources throughout the 2013 season. Senior Christopher Santana became the sixth different Anteater to notch a game-winning goal when he scored in the 73rd minute versus the Titans.
Title Seekers: UCI is closing in on the North Division title with a three-point lead and two matches to go. The ‘Eaters are bidding for their third title in the last four seasons.
Finishing Strong: UC Riverside has won two straight crucial matches by one goal. The Highlanders downed No. 13 Cal State Northridge, 1-0, on Saturday to move into a tie for third place in the South Division with Cal State Fullerton. UCR hosts UC Irvine and CSF this week with a chance to land a berth in next week’s conference tournament.
Mendoza Makes First Goal Count: Junior Juan Mendoza’s first collegiate goal was an extra memorable one. The forward scored at the 11:35 mark for the game-winner against CSUN Saturday. Mendoza, who tied the single-season school record with eight assists last year, broke through in the goals column in a must-win game for the Highlanders.
Contrasts: UC Riverside is 7-0-3 this season when allowing one goal or less. In games in which the Highlanders allow two or more goals, they are 1-6.
Everyone’s In On The Act: A different Highlander has accounted for the game-winning goal in each of the team’s eight victories this season.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Extra Time: UC Santa Barbara’s last two games have ended up in 1-1 double overtime draws, the latest on Saturday against UC Davis. The Gauchos have played seven overtime games this season and have posted a 4-1-2 record.
Down But Never Out: In the last five overtime games that the Gauchos have participated in, they have trailed in the second half in all of them, only to provide heroics and come up the game-tying goal.
Under The Lights: UC Santa Barbara, the national leader in average home attendance for six straight seasons, expects another huge crowd for this Saturday’s rivalry game against Cal Poly. The game will be televised on Fox Sports West at 8:10 p.m. The highest attended game for both 2011 (13,822) and 2012 (13,467) was represented by the Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara match.
Ranking Update: UC Santa Barbara has reached a season-best in national ranking at No. 12 in the NSCAA poll.