Big West Men's Soccer Rolls Out 2014 Season This Weekend
Men's Soccer Release No. 1
This Week in the Big West - August 25-31, 2014
Nationally ranked squads UC Irvine (No. 16), UC Santa Barbara (No. 18) and CSUN (No. 24) open the 2014 Big West men's soccer season, and several teams flock to out-of-state destinations in Chicago, Colorado, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Philadelphia.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
For Openers: The Mustangs begin the season on the road for the third straight year and fourth time in the last five years. Cal Poly travels eastward to face Davidson and North Carolina State this weekend. The Mustangs are 13-7 all-time in season openers.
Goals Machines: Cal Poly set a single-season school record with 43 goals in 2013, with 14 of those coming from Mackenzie Pridham, who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Replacing Pridham is no simple task, but the Mustangs still have scoring punch with junior Matt LaGrassa the team’s leading returning goal scorer with six.
Chase The Assist: Junior Chase Minter led the Mustangs in 2013 with seven assists – a figure that ranks fourth on the school’s single-season history chart. Four of those helpers either tied up a game or led to the game-winning score. Minter also added a pair of goals to finish with 11 points, the fourth-most on the squad.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Kuntz Era Begins: George Kuntz is the eighth men’s soccer head coach in Cal State Fullerton history after building a powerhouse program at Big West rival UC Irvine. Since 2008, Kuntz directed the Anteaters to four Big West Tournament championships and three regular season titles. He spent 19 seasons as UCI’s head coach before making the cross-county trek to CSF.
Kuntz In The Record Book: Kuntz accumulated 141 overall victories from 2001-13, the second-most all-time among Big West coaches. His 62 Big West wins rank third all-time.
Ramos Returns: Midfielder Ian Ramos earned his second all-conference citation after receiving honorable mention recognition in 2013. Leading the team with four goals, Ramos now has 12 for his career. The senior also captured All-Big West First Team acclaim in 2012.
Looking Ahead: The Titans have two non-conference opponents on the schedule which made the 2013 NCAA Tournament – Northwestern (Sept. 7) and UMBC (Sept. 14).
For Openers: The Matadors are 9-3-1 all-time in season openers as a Big West member, and look to win their fourth straight opener when they travel to Denver on Friday. It is the first time CSUN has traveled outside the state of California for a season opener since playing at Dartmouth in 2004.
Sagi Time: In his two seasons at CSUN, forward Sagi Lev-Ari has deposited 31 goals, tying him for sixth in the Big West career record book. He needs five more goals to surpass Willie Sims (2003-05) for the CSUN Division I career record, which would also place him fourth on the Big West list. The 2013 NSCAA First Team All-American scored 16 goals last season to lead the conference and tie for second nationally.
Scoring Threat: CSUN also welcomes back similar Edwin Rivas, a second-team all-conference pick in 2013. With career totals of 42 points on 17 goals and eight assists, Rivas gives the Matadors another solid offensive punch. In addition, Rivas is No. 10 in the Big West record book with 174 career shots.
For Openers: Sacramento State begins its third season as a Big West associate member in men’s soccer. The Hornets open at Temple on Sunday. It’s the first time the Hornets have opened a season on the east coast since playing in a tournament at Duke in 2010.
Younguns: The Hornets have the youngest roster in the Big West with a combined 17 freshmen and sophomores. Four regulars were freshmen last season, and incoming freshmen such as Brad Bumgarner, Cylus Sandoval and Devante Raynor could give the Hornets perhaps the youngest starting lineup among any Big West side.
Looking Ahead: After the opener at Temple, the Hornets play their next seven games at home, beginning on Sept. 5 against San Diego. Sacramento State looks to do a better job at protecting its home turf after going winless (0-5-3) in eight matches last year.
Gosselin Returns: Andrew Gosselin, a member of the 2013 Big West All-Freshman Team, returns to anchor the Hornet defense this season.
For Openers: The Aggies head to Columbus, Ohio for the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic this weekend. UC Davis opens up against host Ohio State and also faces Canisius. Since a jaunt to Xavier in 2007, the Aggies have not traveled this far east to open a campaign.
Del Campo Called Into U.S. Camp: Senior Ramon Martin Del Campo was among 19 players called into camp to train with the United States Under-23 Men’s National Team in early August. The camp ran for five days in Nassau, Bahamas. A defender who garnered all-conference honorable mention recognition in 2013, Del Campo is one of two backline players – CSUN’s Trevor Morley the other – to be named to the 11-man 2014 Big West Preseason All-Conference Team.
Matt Times Two: Seniors Matt Wiesenfarth and Matt Sheldon have scored a combined 24 goals, including a team-leading six apiece last season. The forward duo looks to infuse an offense that managed a collective 20 goals in 2013. Wiesenfarth was named to the preseason all-conference team.
For Openers: UC Irvine has won nine straight season openers dating back to the 2004 season. The last time the Anteaters lost an opening match was on Sept. 4, 2004 against Navy. UCI’s match with Pacific on Friday marks the eighth time in the last 10 years that it began a season at home.
Volk In Charge: After 17 seasons as UCI’s lead assistant and goalkeeper coach, Chris Volk gets his opportunity to guide the program and continue its recent success. Over the last six seasons, the Anteaters have won 80 games, more than any other Big West program, and have participated in four NCAA Tournaments.
Iwasa On The Prowl: Named to the Big West Preseason All-Conference Team for the second straight year, senior Cameron Iwasa looks to lead UCI, which is ranked No. 16 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire poll. Iwasa has 16 career goals, and six of those have accounted for game-winners.
Breslin’s Back: Junior goalkeeper Michael Breslin sported the Big West’s best goals against average (0.80) in 2013.
For Openers: UC Riverside seeks to win its opener for the third year in a row. On Friday, the Highlanders host Pacific, which resurrected its program after a hiatus since 1985. UCR starts the season with four of its first six games at home.
String Of Success: The Highlanders have reeled off three straight winning seasons after not recording a single winning campaign from 2001-10. UCR’s 28 victories in the last three years represents the fourth-highest total by a Big West school over that time period, trailing only NCAA Tournament regulars CSUN (38), UC Santa Barbara (37) and UC Irvine (36).
Cupello’s Comrades: Tim Cupello, who became the program’s head coach after serving one year on an interim basis, brings back a host of talent, including Big West All-Freshman Team recipient Romario Lomeli. Lomeli led the squad with three goals and nine points in 2013. The Highlanders also have a pair of capable starting goalkeepers in junior Ashkan Khosravi and senior K.C. John.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: The Gauchos have won their season opener in five out of the last six years, and hope to extend that string of success Friday at College of Charleston. It marks the third straight year that UC Santa Barbara has begun a season on the road.
Jome Is Hermann Trophy Candidate: Sophomore midfielder Ismaila Jome is the sixth Gaucho since 2005 to be named to the Preseason Watch List for the MAC Hermann Trophy. Jome, the 2013 Big West Freshman of the Year, scored two goals and added seven assists – tied for third-most in the conference – and leads a solid contingent of young Gauchos.
Attendance Leaders: UCSB has led the nation in average home attendance for seven straight seasons, and the Gaucho faithful surely should enjoy high profile non-conference matchups at Harder Stadium against the likes of Northwestern, UCLA and San Diego State, as well as the traditional Big West fare. The UCLA contest will be televised by NSCAA TV and the Oct. 25 showdown against rival Cal Poly will appear on Prime Ticket.