Men's Soccer Tournament Spots Come Into View
Men's Soccer Weekly Release No. 10
While no one has yet clinched a berth into the Big West Men's Soccer Tournament, the picture could become a little clearer as soon as Wednesday.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
• The top three teams from the North and South Division advance to the Big West Tournament, which begins on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Each division’s No. 1 team receives a bye in the first round. First round games on Nov. 8 feature each division’s No. 2 team hosting the third-place team from the opposite division. In the semifinals on Wednesday, Nov. 12, No. 1 North will host the winner of the No. 2 South vs. No. 3 North game and No. 1 South will host the winner of No. 2 North vs. No. 3 South. The championship game – Saturday, Nov. 15 – will be hosted by the highest remaining seed.
• Heading into the penultimate week of Big West play, tournament spots are still ripe for the taking. No team has clinched a bid, but in the North Division, all three slots could be filled as soon as Wednesday. Cal Poly, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara could all punch their tickets in the event that the Mustangs defeat Sacramento State, coupled with a Gaucho win over the Aggies.
Big Week Ahead: Cal Poly is three points off the lead in the North Division race, but hopes to pick up crucial points at home this week against Sacramento State and UC Santa Barbara. Two wins would secure the third consecutive 10-win campaign for the Mustangs.
Brace For Dhillon: Sophomore Justin Dhillon scored twice in a 2-2 tie against rival UC Santa Barbara, his first goals since Sept. 5 against Northern Illinois. Dhillon became the third Mustang to record a multi-goal game this year, joining Chase Minter and Kaba Alkebulan.
Hamilton Ties Season Best: Junior netminder Wade Hamilton equalled his season high with nine saves, several of the highlight reel variety, in the battle with UCSB. He also stopped nine shots against North Carolina State (Aug. 31) and UC Riverside (Oct. 9). He surpassed the 200-save mark for his career with four versus UC Davis on Wednesday.
Offense In Full Gear: Cal Poly has scored multiple goals in two of its last four contests.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Titans Tied For Lead: Overcoming an 0-2 start, Cal State Fullerton is 4-1-1 over its last six conference games to move into a first place tie at 10 points with North Division cohort UC Irvine. The two rivals square off at Titan Stadium Wednesday seeking to take sole possession of first place.
The Skinny: Since the Big West reinstated men’s soccer in 2001, Cal State Fullerton is just 3-19-4 against UCI. However, the last two times the teams met at Titan Stadium, the Titans won 1-0 on Oct. 27, 2012 and forged a 2-2 tie on Oct. 19, 2013.
Fenelus Strikes Again: Senior Marc Fenelus scored for the third time in the last five games, and unleashed his third game-winner of the year in a 1-0 win over CSUN Wednesday. Fenelus is tied for fifth in the Big West with five goals.
Closing In On Ten: The Titans are two wins away from reaching double digits for the first time since 2000 when they finished 15-6-1 and made the NCAA Tournament. The last nine-win season occurred in 2001.
#BigWin: CSUN’s 3-0 shutout of No. 3 UC Irvine on the road certainly qualified as a #BigWin in the Big West, bringing the Matadors within one point of a playoff spot and three points of the South Division lead. With three regular season games to play, the fourth-place Matadors need to finish in the division’s top three to qualify for the Big West Tournament.
Fabulous Forty: Sagi Lev-Ari notched a pair of goals in CSUN’s upset win over UC Irvine as he reached a career milestone in the process. Lev-Ari became just the fourth player in Big West history to amass 40 career goals, and the first to do so since UC Santa Barbara’s Drew McAthy (2001-04).
More On Lev-Ari: The Big West leader with 10 goals, Lev-Ari has now produced three straight seasons of double-digit strikes.
Ranking Recap: CSUN’s win against No. 3 UCI represented the highest against a ranked opponent since defeating then-No. 3 UC Santa Barbara 1-0 in 2009.
Win Needed: With the Hornets four points out of a playoff spot in the upcoming Big West Tournament, and three regular season matches remaining, they face two crucial road games this week against Cal Poly and UC Davis. Losses to both foes would eliminate Sacramento State from tournament contention.
One Better: Senior Chimdum Mez’s team-leading seventh goal of the year in Sacramento State’s 4-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara gave the team 12 for the season, one better than the overall total from 2013. However, the Hornets have gone 11 straight games without producing multiple goals.
Bru Fest: Making his first start since a 1-0 loss to Grand Canyon on Sept. 19, sophomore backstop Philip Bru made 11 saves to help the Hornets to a scoreless draw against Causeway Cup rival UC Davis Saturday at Bonney Field. The 11 saves was a single-game high for a Big West goalkeeper this season, and the most for a Hornet since 2010.
Distinction: The Hornets are 4-2-2 this season when allowing one goal or less. On the flip side, they are 0-7-1 when yielding two or more goals to the opponent.
NCAA Marks Tied: UC Davis tied a pair of NCAA records following its scoreless draw against rival Sacramento State on Saturday. The Aggies played in their 11th overtime match, equalling a record set by Saint Louis in 2003 and matched by San Diego State (2009) and UC Davis (2011). Additionally, it was the ninth draw for UC Davis, which ties the record set by Providence in 2005 and equalled by St. John’s (2009) and South Florida (2013).
Home Unbeaten Streak On Line: In Saturday’s rematch with Sacramento State, the Aggies seek to extend their 10-match home unbeaten streak.
Catbird’s Seat: The Aggies own a three-point lead in the North Division standings over Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara with three matches to play. A huge Wednesday night clash at UCSB is on tap. The two teams have gone to overtime in each of their last four meetings.
Simply Stifling: In shutting out its last four opponents, UC Davis last allowed a goal on Oct. 9 against UC Irvine, extending a scoreless streak of 471 minutes and 57 seconds.
Knocked Back: For the first time this season, the Anteaters lost back-to-back games as they fell to UC Riverside and CSUN last week. The setbacks dropped UC Irvine into a first place tie with Cal State Fullerton in the North Division heading into a critical showdown with the Titans on Wednesday.
Home Streak Ends: UCI’s 11-match home field win streak went by the wayside in Saturday’s loss to CSUN. The Anteaters had not sustained a home loss since Nov. 9, 2013 – coincidentally, to CSUN.
Goals Harder To Come By: Through the nonconference portion of its schedule, UCI had scored 21 goals over nine matches. The tortuous Big West slate has slowed the team’s offense some with just six goals in seven contests.
Calzada Finishes Again: Junior Eduardo Calzada notched his team-leading seventh goal of the year in the UCR game. The midfielder is tied with three others for second in the Big West in goals scored. Calzada has scored his seven goals on just 26 shots taken.
Mammoth Upset: UC Riverside has picked up five points in South Division play over the last two weeks thanks to one victory and two ties. The 2-1 victory came at the expense of UC Irvine, rated No. 2 nationally by Top Drawer Soccer, and the highest ranked opponent that the Highlanders have beaten in school history.
Don’t Sleep On The Highlanders: National rankings are nothing to the Highlanders. The win over UCI marked the fifth time since 2011 that UCR has defeated a nationally ranked opponent. Prior to the UCI win, the Highlanders knocked off then-No. 13 CSUN, 1-0, on Nov. 2, 2013.
Striking First Bodes Well: The Highlanders have earned all eight of their points in Big West play when one thing happens – scoring first against their opponent. UCR has defeated Sacramento State and UCI, and tied UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Fullerton after scoring first in the match.
Salazar Shoots, He Scores: Junior Michael Salazar booted his team-leading fifth goal in the 1-1 tie against UC Riverside.
UC SANTA BARBARA
What A Crowd: In front of 14,345 fans, the second largest regular season, on-campus crowd in NCAA history, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly fought to a 2-2 tie on Saturday. The crowd turnout was second only to the 15,896 that witnessed UCSB and UCLA duel on Sept. 24, 2010 at Harder Stadium.
Flurry: UCSB held a 30-10 shot advantage in the Cal Poly match. The 30 shots ties for the Big West single-game high this season.
Ten Thousand Is The Minimum: The last seven meetings between UCSB and Cal Poly have drawn crowds in excess of 10,000, including three straight sellouts totalling 11,075 at Spanos Stadium. A fourth straight capacity crowd is expected as the two rivals rematch Sunday in San Luis Obispo.
Offense Reigniting: The six goals UCSB scored against Sacramento State and Cal Poly last week equal the most the team has mustered in back-to-back games this season. UCSB had six goals in consecutive games against Drake (Sept. 28) and CSUN (Oct. 2).