UC Irvine Heads East With Undefeated Record
Men's Soccer Release No. 3
This Week In The Big West - September 8-14, 2014
Rising eight spots in the NSCAA/Continental Tire poll to No. 9 after a 3-0 start, the UC Irvine men's soccer program has achieved a national top-10 ranking for the second straight season. The Anteaters travel to West Virginia and No. 6 Georgetown this week.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Rolling Along: Cal Poly upped its winning streak to three straight with home victories against Northern Illinois and Massachusetts last weekend, and is off to its first 3-1 start since 2007.
Offense Clicking: The Mustangs have 11 goals in the early going, the most during any opening four-game stretch since 2000. Cal Poly is the Big West leader in goals and assists (10). Balance is the key. Seven different Mustangs have scored at least one goal.
Kaba Kan: Redshirt freshman Kaba Alkebulan has made an impact in the lineup, ranking second on the team with six points on two goals and two assists. He recorded at least one point in the first three contests and netted the game-winning goal against Northern Illinois.
Rematch: Cal Poly defeated its highest ranked opponent in school history last year with a 3-0 win at No. 6 UCLA. The two squads meet against this Sunday in Westwood for Cal Poly’s only road outing in a nine-match span.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Seeking Win One: Cal State Fullerton played its third overtime game in four tries last week, settling for a scoreless draw against Northwestern. The Titans are 0-2-2 in the early going and look for their first win this weekend in Las Vegas at the Nike UNLV Invitational. They face Detroit and UMBC at the tournament.
More Salt: Goalkeeper Jeff Salt helped preserve the shutout tie against Northwestern with six saves, including several in 1-v-1 situations. The junior transfer from Cal State San Bernardino has compiled 20 saves, second-most in the conference to Cal Poly’s Wade Hamilton (22). Salt also sports a 1.12 goals against average in over 400 minutes of action as the Titan backstop.
Opportunities Knock: The Titans have recorded double digit shot attempts in three of their four matches, but are tied for the fewest goals scored (3) in the Big West.
Upcoming: CSF’s match against No. 14 UMBC is its first against a ranked opponent this season.
Reenergized: CSUN rebounded from an 0-2 start to claim the championship of the Holiday Inn Hurricane Classic in Tulsa, Okla. The Matadors knocked off No. 18 UAB (2-0) and host Tulsa (2-1 in OT). CSUN’s home opener on Friday is a big one as No. 8 New Mexico comes to town.
Clutch: In addition to moving into a tie for fourth in the Big West career record book with 35 goals, senior forward Sagi Lev-Ari cemented his spot at No. 2 on the game-winning goals list. The two game-clinching goals he scored last week were the 13th and 14th of his career, moving him past former CSUN great Willie Sims (2003-05) for the runner-up spot in the conference.
Hobbs Comes Up Big: Junior Adam Hobbs made his first two starts of the season and emerged as the Co-MVP of the Holiday Inn Hurricane Classic. He allowed just one goal in 181 minutes for a 0.50 goals against average, and made three saves apiece versus UAB and Tulsa. Hobbs started 22 matches for CSUN in 2013.
Hornets Find Offense: The Hornets scored multiple goals in a match just once in 2013 – a 4-2 loss to Cal Poly – but managed three goals in game two of the 2014 campaign. Sacramento State’s 3-3 double overtime tie with San Diego marked the first time since Oct. 27, 2012 versus Cal Poly that the program had scored three goals.
Overtime Fortunes: The 3-3 tie against San Diego extended an impressive run of success in overtime games for the Sacramento State program. It marked the 27th straight game that the Hornets emerged with either a win or a tie. They own an 11-0-16 record in extra time games dating back to the 2010 season opener.
Frosh Hero: Freshman Devante Raynor scored his first collegiate goal in dramatic fashion Friday against San Diego. With the Hornets trailing 3-2 in the waning moments, Raynor headed home a perfect cross from teammate Javier Muñoz with 57 seconds to go to send the game into overtime.
Back At Home: The Hornets continue a seven-match homestand against San Jose State and Cleveland State this week.
Extra, Extra: UC Davis emerged from last weekend’s battles with a pair of 1-1 draws against Loyola Marymount and San Diego. The Aggies have three ties in their first four games, and already sit on the doorstep of equalling the school record of four in a season, accomplished four times with the last coming in 2012.
Sheldon Off To Good Start: Sharing the team lead in both scoring and goals last season, senior Matt Sheldon is well on his way to doing the same again in 2014. The forward has tallied at least one point in each of the last three games, and leads the team with five points.
Schultz Second In GAA: Redshirt sophomore netminder Kris Schultz has played all 420 minutes for UC Davis and has allowed just three goals for a 0.64 goals against average. Schultz is No. 2 in the Big West in that category.
Defense A Strength: The Aggies have allowed multiple goals to an opponent just once in their last 11 contests, dating back to last season.
Undefeated: The Anteaters won a pair of impressive games last weekend, upending a pair of ranked opponents in No. 19 Denver and No. 25 Clemson by identical 2-1 scores.
Raiding The Ranks Of The Ranked: UC Irvine’s wins over Denver and Clemson continued a trademark of the program over recent years – the ability to defeat ranked opposition. Dating back to the final game of the 2012 season, a 1-0 victory over No. 20 CSUN, the Anteaters have gone unbeaten (7-0-1) in eight straight regular season contests against ranked foes.
Success Barometer: Going back to 2013, the Anteaters own a 12-0-2 record when scoring two or more goals.
Balancing Act: The depth of UC Irvine’s roster has been on display through the first three matches as six different players have accounted for the team’s seven goals. Two of UCI’s expected top offensive options – seniors Cameron Iwasa and Lester Hayes III – have yet to score a goal, although the duo ranks one-two in shots taken with 13 and seven, respectively.
Giving A Good Account: UC Riverside nearly pulled off an epic upset of host and then No. 6-ranked New Mexico on its own turf last weekend, but fell 2-1 in a tough battle. The Highlanders streaked out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to a penalty kick conversion, but the Lobos did enough to prevent the upset.
Firing Shots: Junior Michael Salazar, who achieved the program’s first hat trick at the Division I level in his collegiate debut on Aug. 29 versus Pacific, did not score in two games last week but he remained as active as ever. The forward is tied for the Big West lead with 13 shots, and so he has generated nearly 30 percent of the 45 shots the Highlanders have taken as a team.
Home Cooking: The Highlanders return home for their next three games in hopes of finding a return to the win column. First up is a battle with Bakersfield on Thursday, followed by a visit from Santa Clara on Sunday. UCR opened the season at home with a 5-1 win against Pacific. UCR is 15-8-4 on its home pitch since the 2011 season.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Ranked Foe On Tap: UC Santa Barbara’s first game of the week is against No. 15 Stanford – Tuesday at 7 pm on the Pac-12 Network. The Gauchos also host Colgate on Friday.
DePuy Breaks Through: Holding a 13-6 shot advantage, including a 6-2 edge in shots on goal, UC Santa Barbara settled for a 1-1 tie against Northwestern in its home opener last Friday, but still witnessed the first collegiate goal from sophomore midfielder Nick DePuy.
Road Warriors: The Gauchos have shown an ability to play well in road games, assembling a 12-3-4 record since the start of the 2012 season. UCSB’s match with Stanford is its final road test until Oct. 9 against Cal State Fullerton. The Gauchos embark on a six-match homestand prior to that game with the Titans.
In The Right Direction: Through the first three games, the Gauchos have mostly controlled possession and opportunities. UCSB owns a 40-25 advantage over the opposition in shot attempts.