No. 17 UC Irvine Battles Ranked Opponents Denver, Clemson
Men's Soccer Release No. 2
This Week in the Big West - September 1-7, 2014
After winning its season opener for the 10th year in a row, No. 17 UC Irvine hosts No. 19 Denver and meets No. 25 Clemson on a neutral pitch in San Diego to highlight Big West men's soccer action in week two. UC Riverside also travels to No. 6 New Mexico.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Offense Intact: Cal Poly, which co-led the Big West last year in goals with 43, resumed its offensive potency to begin the 2014 season. The Mustangs scored three goals apiece in matchups with Davidson and North Carolina State as they came away with a split on opening weekend.
Minter With Huge Start: Junior Chase Minter led the Mustangs in 2013 with seven assists. Last weekend, he discovered his knack for scoring. The midfielder notched a total of three goals against Davidson and North Carolina State, including his first career two-goal game versus the Wolfpack. Minter more than doubled his career goal total accumulated through the first two seasons in a Mustang uniform.
Wade’s World: Junior goalkeeper Wade Hamilton was plenty busy during Cal Poly’s 1-1 opening week as he made 15 saves, including nine against the Wolfpack. The nine was just two short of his career-high 11 that he made against UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 19, 2012.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Overtime Overtures: The George Kuntz era has officially begun, and so far the Titans are two-for-two on playing overtime games. They lost a heartbreaking 3-2 game in overtime at Illinois-Chicago in the season opener, then took San Diego to a double-overtime draw on Monday.
Worth His Salt: Cal State Fullerton knew it had to fill a vacancy for the starting goalkeeper spot, and Jeff Salt looks like he may have a claim. The 6-foot-6 transfer from Cal State San Bernardino made a game-high eight saves in the San Diego match, and stopped a penalty kick attempt in the 47th minute to keep the Titans level.
Soto Returns To Titan Stadium: The Titans make their 2014 home debut on Friday against San Francisco, and welcome back one of their own in Eddie Soto. A former All-American at CSF, Soto is in his first season at USF after serving the previous eight seasons as an assistant at UCLA. Soto also spent time at his alma mater in an assistant coaching role.
Tough Start: The Matadors lost consecutive 2-1 games on the road against Denver and Air Force to kick off the 2014 season. It marked the first time since 2010 that CSUN is off to an 0-2 start.
Into The Top Five: Sagi Lev-Ari led the Big West in 2013 with 16 goals. He’s on target to do the same in 2014. The senior scored both of CSUN’s goals against Denver and Air Force, giving him 33 for his career and moving him into a tie for fifth place in the Big West record book alongside UC Irvine’s Matt Murphy (2005-08).
Next In Line: Lev-Ari now eyes former CSUN standout Willie Sims (2003-05) on his charge up the Big West goal scoring chart. Sims sits fourth in conference history with 35 goals.
Back On The Road: The Matadors are traveling once again this weekend, heading to the Holiday Inn Hurricane Classic hosted by Tulsa. CSUN faces UAB and host Tulsa on Friday and Sunday, respectively. CSUN’s home opener is on Sept. 12 against No. 5 New Mexico.
Hornets Lose Opener: The Hornets played their first game in the state of Philadelphia in Sunday’s season opener against Temple, coming away with a 3-0 loss. Sacramento State returns home for a season-long seven-game homestand, with games against San Diego and Loyola Marymount on tap this week.
Del Curto Gets Initial Start: Sacramento State featured three candidates vying for the starting netminder position – sophomore Teddy Sampson, redshirt sophomore Philip Bru and redshirt freshman James Del Curto. Del Curto got first crack as a starter as he was in goal for all 90 minutes in the Temple match. Del Curto made seven saves in his first collegiate start, including four stops within the first 14 minutes.
Goals Search: Scoring a league low 11 goals in 2013, one of Sacramento State’s objectives is to dent the scoreboard more often – the team was shutout eight times last season.
Youth Takes The Field: Sacramento State’s opening day starting lineup consisted of a combined seven freshmen and sophomores.
Great Start: UC Davis went unbeaten during the opening weekend, forging a tie against host Ohio State and defeating Canisius at the Bert and Iris Wolstein Classic. The Aggies come home this week for a pair of games against WCC foes Loyola Marymount and San Diego.
In Openers: UC Davis is now 2-5-1 in season openers since its first Division I campaign in 2007.
Home Field Advantage: The Aggies have strung together four consecutive winning seasons at home, posting a 5-4 mark at Aggie Soccer Stadium in 2013. UC Davis plays seven its next nine contests on its home pitch. The program is a combined 90-43-13 (.661) at home in 17 seasons under the tutelage of head coach Dwayne Shaffer.
Good Sign: In defeating Canisius, 2-1, the Aggies hope that portends good things to come. In 2013, the team notched a 5-1 record when scoring two or more goals. The Aggies scored one goal or less in the other 15 contests, and went 4-8-3 in those occurrences.
Ten Straight: UC Irvine earned its 10th straight season-opening win after pitching a 3-0 shutout on Pacific Sunday. The Anteaters last lost a season opener on Sept. 4, 2004 against Navy.
Sources Of Production: The three goal scorers in UCI’s victory over Pacific – Eduardo Calzada, Gor Kirakosyan and Renato Torquato – did not contribute a single point for last year’s 15-win Anteater outfit. Calzada, a Bakersfield transfer, scored UCI’s first goal of the season at the 36:45 mark. Kirakosyan and Torquato redshirted the 2013 season for UCI. Kirakosyan tied for second on the team in goals with four in 2012.
Measuring Stick: UCI was 9-0-2 in 2013 in games which it scored two or more goals.
Poll Chatter: UCI, ranked No. 18 this week by Top Drawer Soccer and No. 19 in Soccer America, faces a tough opponent in Soccer America No. 18-ranked Clemson at a neutral site in San Diego on Sunday. The ‘Eaters also host Denver on Friday.
Hail The Highlanders: UC Riverside began the season on an auspicious note with a 5-1 triumph over Pacific on Friday. In addition to winning its third straight season opener, UCR scored five goals in a match for the first time since September 14, 2012 against North Florida.
Epic Debut: Michael Salazar made his Highlander debut against Pacific and played a role in four of the team’s five goals. Salazar assisted on UCR’s first goal scored by Jonathan Tovar, then proceeded to put away the next three goals to secure the first hat trick by a Highlander at the Division I level. For his efforts, he was named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
Upcoming: The Highlanders receive a stiff test in the form of No. 6 New Mexico on Friday, as part of the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. UCR also squares off against American in the tournament. The Highlanders are no strangers to beating ranked foes. In 2011, they toppled UC Santa Barbara twice – ranked No. 7 and No. 15 at time of game – as well as No. 9 UC Irvine.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Mixed Reviews: UC Santa Barbara opened the 2014 campaign with a split of its two games at the Aaron Olitsky Memorial Classic hosted by College of Charleston. The Gauchos knocked off Charleston, 2-1, before suffering a 3-0 shutout to Furman. UCSB’s win was its fourth consecutive in a season opener.
Jome Outstanding In Opener: Midfielder Ismaila Jome, a candidate for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy award and a preseason All-American, lived up to the expectations in the win over Charleston. After tying for third in the Big West with seven assists in 2013, Jome posted a pair of helpers for his second career multi-assist game.
Welcome To Harder: UCSB looks forward to Friday’s home opener against Northwestern, playing on the Harder Stadium pitch that has witness the team post a 45-18-7 record over the last six years. The .693 home winning percentage over that period is the best of any Big West program. In addition, the Gauchos have led the nation in average home attendance for seven seasons in a row.