Men's Soccer Tournament Semifinal Showdowns Set For Wednesday
Links associated with this release:
Big West Men's Soccer Tournament Central
Men's Soccer Release No. 13 | Purchase Tickets to UCSB-UCI | Purchase Tickets to UCR-CSF
UC Irvine visits UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside welcomes Cal State Fullerton in Wednesday's Big West Men's Soccer Tournament semifinal action.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
• Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine advanced out of the first round and into the semifinals of the Big West Tournament as teams move one step closer to clinching the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Titans knocked off host UC Davis, 2-1, while the Anteaters held serve at home in defeating Sacramento State, 2-0 during last Saturday’s action.
• That set the stage for Wednesday’s semifinals, featuring North Division No. 1 seed UC Santa Barbara hosting UCI, with South Division No. 1 UC Riverside welcoming CSF. UCSB’s nemesis in the Big West Tournament is none other than UCI, which is 3-0 all-time against the Gauchos with victories coming in the 2008, 2009 and 2011 finals. This is the first Big West Tournament meeting between the Highlanders and Titans.
• The UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine game will be streamed live on BigWest.TV. Click HERE to watch the action.
• The championship match is slated for Saturday, Nov. 15 at the site of the highest remaining seed. The North Division representative will be the host if both participants are the same seed.
• UC Irvine is the defending tournament champion, and has won four titles since the tournament began in 2008. UC Santa Barbara (2010) and CSUN (2012) also have hoisted the trophy.
• The latest NCAA Ratings Percentage Index lists UCI at No. 17, UCSB at No. 47, CSF at No. 66 and UCR No. 93 entering this week’s games.
• In head-to-head matchups this season, UCSB upset then third-ranked UCI 1-0 on Oct. 4 as Big West Offensive Player of the Year Nick DePuy scored with 37 seconds left in the game. CSF and UCR battled to 1-1 and 2-2 ties, respectively.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Road Heroics: Cal State Fullerton won its second all-time Big West Tournament game – the first came in 2010 – when it scored twice in the final five minutes, including the game-winner with 8.9 seconds remaining in a 2-1 first round triumph over UC Davis on Saturday. Ian Ramos and Nigel Patterson provided the goals to push the Titans into the semifinals.
Rediscovered Territory: Under first-year head coach George Kuntz, the Titans are 9-7-5 overall, hitting the nine-win mark for the first time since the 2001 season. They also have clinched their first winning season since the 2000 squad went 15-6-1 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The “O” Is Back: CSF is tied with UC Irvine for the Big West top spot in goals scored (30). The Titans have turned in their first 30-goal season since the 2001 squad knocked in 33.
Kuntz Hits Milestone: The win over UC Davis gave Kuntz his 150th career win as a coach in the Big West. Kuntz collected 141 of those victories at UC Irvine over a 13-year period.
Sigh Of Relief: After scoring just three goals over a six-game stretch to end the regular season, the Anteaters busted out with a pair of goals to defeat Sacramento State, 2-0, in a Big West Tournament first round game Saturday. It also marked the team’s seventh shutout of the season.
Top Notch: UCI’s 13 wins give the program double-digit victories in six of the last seven seasons. The win total is also currently tied for the fourth-most in the country.
Tournament Trivia: The Anteaters own a sparkling Big West Tournament résumé. They are 9-1 all-time with a record four tournament titles – 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. With a win against UC Riverside on Wednesday, UCI would reach its fifth conference tournament finals.
Breslin’s Brigade: Junior keeper Michael Breslin continues to dent the Big West record book. In UCI’s first round tournament triumph, Breslin recorded his 33rd career win to move into a tie for fourth all-time. In addition, he became the 10th goalie in league history to amass 20 career shutouts. He’s also No. 9 with 5,678 minutes played.
What A Turnaround: The likelihood of the Highlanders getting into the Big West tournament, let alone winning the South Division, was in question after a 1-3-1 start. But a five-game unbeaten streak, the program’s longest since going six straight matches without a defeat in 2011, propelled UC Riverside to its first South Division title.
Offense-Defense Balance: The Highlander navigated through Big West play with the second-most goals scored (14) and tied for the second-fewest allowed (9).
Not Satisfied: This will be UCR’s third appearance in the Big West Tournament, and the program will be seeking its first win. Both previous trips resulted in semifinal road losses. This time around, UCR will be hosting a tournament match for the first time.
Salazar Shot Maker: Junior Michael Salazar’s 56 shots is a UC Riverside single-season Division I record, eclipsing the previous mark of 50 set by Cesar Diaz Pizarro in 2011. In addition, his 20 shots on goal is tied for fourth, just four away from another school record.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Top Seed: For the second straight year, UC Santa Barbara is the top seed from the North Division in the Big West Tournament. The Gauchos host UC Irvine in a semifinal matchup on Wednesday. UCSB, hosting a semifinal for the sixth time in the seven-year history of the tourney, is 0-3 all-time against the Anteaters in tournament meetings.
Consistent Success: UCSB has reeled off 14 straight seasons of 10 or more wins. No other Big West program has a streak longer than two years.
Vom Steeg Nears 200: Head coach Tim Vom Steeg is closing in on a milestone as he’s only three wins away from career No. 200 as a member of the Big West. Vom Steeg’s overall record of 197-73-35 has been attained since the Big West reinstituted men’s soccer in 2001.
Momentum At The Right Time: The Gauchos enter their Big West Tournament opener on a five-game unbeaten streak, their longest of the season. They have outscored their opponents 11-4 during that span. UCSB also has scored two or more goals four times in its last five games.