The road to #RaiseTheCup begins this week with two Big West Men's Soccer Tournament first round matches – UC Irvine at Cal Poly and UC Davis at CSUN.
Tournament Talk: Cal Poly is making its third Big West Tournament appearance in the last four years, taking the No. 2 seed in the North Division for the first time since 2012. The Mustangs are 0-4-1 all-time in the tournament.
Getting Offensive: The Mustangs have scored two or more goals six times in their last seven contests, going 4-1-2 during that span. Cal Poly’s 4-2 win at Sacramento State on Saturday was the first time in 34 matches – a 4-1 win against Northern Illinois on Sept. 5, 2014 – that the team tallied four goals in a match.
Minty Fresh: Senior Chase Minter enters the conference tournament as the Big West’s active career leader in assists (21) and points (53). He is one assist away from entering the Big West career top-10.
Matt-er Of Fact: Senior Matt LaGrassa moved into sole possession of fourth place in all-time goals at Cal Poly when he booted in his 18th career strike against Sacramento State.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Tournament Talk: Cal State Fullerton seeks to defend its Big West Tournament championship as the No. 1 seed in the North Division. The Titans won their first division title with 19 points on a 6-3-1 record. The six conference wins are the most for CSF in the modern Big West era (2001-15).
Future Is Bright: Of CSF’s 27 goals scored this season, 19 have been accounted for by either freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore Diego Sanchez is the team leader with six goals, followed by freshmen Ross McPhie and Brandon West with four and three, respectively.
Shut Em Down: The Titans lead the Big West with 11 shutouts, and 10 of their 11 victories have come via the clean sheet.
That’s Pretty Stingy: Cal State Fullerton allowed a measly six goals to opponents over the 10-game Big West schedule, and all six were scored in three games. The Titans forged shutouts in seven of their 10 conference contests.
Tournament Talk: After a one-year hiatus, CSUN returns to the Big West Tournament field as the No. 2 seed from the South Division. The Matadors are 4-2-0 all-time in the tournament, with championship game appearances in 2012 and 2013. CSUN hoisted the crown in 2012.
Streak Intact: The Matadors have won all six matches this season in which they have scored two or more goals. In fact, CSUN is 18-0-0 when scoring multiple goals dating back to the 2013 season.
Hobbs Leads In Saves: CSUN senior Adam Hobbs leads the Big West in saves (81), and has stopped five or more shots in eight of his 18 starts this season. He had back-to-back 10-save performances against UC Santa Barbara (Oct. 3) and UC Davis (Oct. 8).
Protect That Turf: CSUN snapped a six-match home winless streak with last Wednesday’s 2-1 win over UC Riverside. The Matadors host UC Davis on Saturday in the tournament.
Just Missed: The Hornets came up win one short of reaching their second straight Big West Tournament. They finished in last place in the North Division by two points. Sacramento State tied its 2014 mark for victories with six.
Bumgarner Finishes On Hot Streak: Sacramento State has a forward for the future in redshirt freshman Brad Bumgarner. He scored in the season finale against Cal Poly, marking his fourth goal in the final seven games. His team-leading seven goals was three more than the next player on the team.
Del Curto Tops In 2015: Sophomore goalkeeper James Del Curto owns the top single-game saves total in the Big West this season when he made 14 stops against UC Irvine on Oct. 8.
Sandoval Looks To Bright Future: Forward Cylus Sandoval has finished in the top three of Hornet scorers in each of his first two seasons. He was third in points (8) on four goals in 2015, and tied for second with six points as a freshman in 2014.
Tournament Talk: UC Davis is back in the Big West Tournament for the fifth straight year, but the Aggies will be on the road in the first round after hosting each of the last three seasons. The Aggies are winless in their last five contests (0-3-2).
Offensive Drought: The Aggie offense has not produced a goal in the last 306 minutes, 17 seconds. UC Davis last scored at the 73:43 mark in a 2-1 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 21.
Close Calls: UC Davis has played in 11 games decided by a one-goal margin this year, posting a 4-7 record.
Getting On Top: UC Davis is 6-0-1 this season when scoring the first goal of a match.
Mohageg Mention: Senior Lucas Mohageg became the fifth Aggie all-time to earn All-Big West First Team honors after scoring a team-leading seven goals from his defender position. The Aggies are 7-1-0 this season when Mohageg records a goal or an assist.
Tournament Talk: UC Irvine is appearing in the Big West Tournament for the seventh time in the last eight years. The Anteaters are 10-1-1 all-time in the tournament, owning the most wins and highest winning percentage (.875) of any Big West team. UCI has participated in the championship match on five different occasions (2014, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008).
Looking Back: UCI’s first round matchup at Cal Poly is the second all-time tournament meeting between the programs. The Anteaters won the only other matchup in the 2009 semifinals, 2-1 in double overtime, in San Luis Obispo.
Three-Headed Monster: The trio of seniors Jaime Phillips and Eduardo Calzada, and freshman Ivan Canales have combined to amass 47 of the squad’s 75 points. Phillips ranks fourth in the Big West with 17 points and is second with seven assists.
Road Fortunes Turning: After beginning the season winless in their first nine road matches (0-8-1), the Anteaters have won their last two away from Anteater Stadium.
Tough Finish: UC Riverside lost seven of its last eight contests to close out the 2015 season, and missed out on the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Highlanders were held to one goal or less in 13 of their 19 matches this season.
Scoring Duo Departs: UC Riverside placed both senior forwards Norberto Ochoa and Michael Salazar on the all-conference first team, marking the third time in the last four years that the program had multiple first team selections. Ochoa and Salazar accounted for 13 of the team’s 23 goals this year.
Khosravi Ends Career As Record Holder: Senior goalkeeper Ashkan Khosravi finishes his career as the Highlander all-time wins leader with 22.
Season Highlights: Despite missing the conference tournament, the Highlanders enjoyed a couple of key wins this season, including 2-1 overtime victories over then-No. 8 UCLA on Sept. 13 and Big West South Division champion Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 24.
UC SANTA BARBARA
Tournament Talk: UC Santa Barbara is back in the Big West Tournament for the seventh time in eight years. This is the third straight year that the Gauchos are representing the North Division as the No. 1 seed, and own a first-round bye. However, UCSB has lost at home in the semifinals in each of the last two seasons.
Offensive Machine: The Gauchos have tallied two or more goals in 14 of 19 contests this season, leading the Big West and ranking eighth nationally with 38 goals.
Acheampong Assist Man: The 2015 Big West Freshman of the Year, Geoffrey Acheampong sits atop the conference leaderboard with 10 assists. He is bidding to become the first Gaucho to lead the league in assists since Luis Silva and Dom Sarle tied for the honor in 2011. The last player to record 11 assists in a season was Dylan Curtis of UC Davis in 2008.
All-Conference Aptitude: The Gauchos tied UC Irvine for the most all-conference selections with eight, and also had the most first team representatives with four.