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Men's Soccer

Big West Sends Three To NCAA Men's Soccer Tourney

11/16/2015

Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton, and UC Santa Barbara all earned berths to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

2015 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament Bracket


2015 Men's Soccer Release No. 14

For the third time in conference history, three schools are representing the Big West in the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.  Cal Poly, Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara landed in the 48-team field during Monday morning’s selection announcement.

The three selections piggyback off of 2008 and 2013, when four and three teams were chosen, respectively.

Cal Poly is in the field for the second time in school history – the first was in 2008 – and reaches the postseason under first-year head coach Steve Sampson.  The Mustangs received at-large bid after finishing 11-4-5 overall and second in the Big West North Division with a 5-1-4 record.  They reached the semifinals of the Big West Tournament before falling to eventual champion Cal State Fullerton.

The Mustangs drew a familiar foe for their first round matchup in UCLA.  Cal Poly knocked off the Bruins, 1-0, in the 2008 first round, and return to Drake Stadium on Thursday in hopes of doing it again.  The two teams met earlier this season in Westwood, with the Bruins notching a 4-1 victory.

Cal Poly is 2-3-2 against the tournament field, logging wins against a pair of national seeds in No. 11 Seattle and No. 15 UC Santa Barbara.  Two-time Big West Midfielder of the Year and Goalkeeper of the Year Chase Minter and Wade Hamilton look to lead Cal Poly into a second round matchup at Seattle.

Cal State Fullerton is in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in two years under second-year head coach George Kuntz, who has led the Titans to back-to-back Big West Tournament titles.  The Titans are making their third NCAA appearance as a league member after also invading the bracket in 1986.

Set to host an NCAA match for the first time as a conference member, CSF was paired against Santa Clara in Thursday’s first round at Titan Stadium.  The Titans and Broncos met earlier this season in the Bay Area, with CSF emerging a 2-1 victor.  CSF posted a 13-7-1 record, won the South Division at 6-3-1, and toppled Cal Poly and UCSB to be crowned conference tournament champion.

CSF is 3-3-1 against the tournament field, and enters the NCAA’s on a four-match winning streak.  Goalkeeper David Rodriguez Elias has recorded a school record 12 shutouts to spearhead the Big West’s top defensive club.  The Titans eye a potential second round matchup at No. 8 seed Stanford.

UCSB is the most experienced postseason Big West program in making the field for the 12th time.  The Gauchos are 17-9-2 all-time.  They earned a national seed, and subsequent first-round bye, for the seventh time – 2003 (11), 2004 (9), 2007 (12), 2008 (15), 2011 (15) and 2013 (10).  The 15th-seeded Gauchos await the winner of Thursday’s first-round clash between South Carolina and Furman.

The Gauchos are 11-2 at Harder Stadium in NCAA Tournament contests under the tutelage of 17th-year head coach Tim Vom Steeg.  The Gauchos take a 13-6-2 record into the NCAA’s.  The program won its third consecutive North Division title before falling in the championship match of the Big West Tournament to CSF.  Junior Nick DePuy is one of the nation's top goal scorers with 15 this season, including eight game-winning strikes.

UCSB is 3-4-2 against the tournament field, including favorable results against two national seeds in Stanford (No. 8, W) and Denver (No. 13, T).  Should the Gauchos advance, they face a potential Sweet 16 battle at national No. 2 seed Clemson.

All second round action will take place on Sunday, November 22.

TOURNAMENT TIDBITS

• Since reinstating men’s soccer in 2001, the Big West has won at least one NCAA Tournament game in 12 of the 13 years that the conference has had a postseason representative.

• This is the third time in Big West history that at least three teams were selected to the NCAA Tournament.  In 2008, four teams were chosen, and three squads made the bracket in 2013.

• The Big West has sent at least one team to the Sweet 16 in 10 of the last 12 years.

• UC Santa Barbara, as a No. 15 seed, has earned a national seed for the seventh time.  The others are 2003 (11), 2004 (9), 2007 (12), 2008 (15), 2011 (15) and 2013 (10).  UCSB is 11-2 all-time at Harder Stadium in NCAA contests. 

• Cal State Fullerton is in the NCAA Tournament for the third time as a Big West member and ninth overall.  The Titans are searching for their first NCAA victory since 1996.  The last time they hosted an NCAA match was in 1998.

• Cal Poly is appearing in its second NCAA Tournament as a Big West member, and third overall.  All three times the Mustangs have drawn UCLA as its opening opponent – 1995, 2008 and 2015.

TEAM NOTES

CAL POLY

Welcome Back: After a seven-year hiatus from the NCAA Tournament, Cal Poly is back in the dance.  The Mustangs are making their third appearance – second as a Big West member – with all three opening round matches against UCLA.  Cal Poly seeks to avenge an earlier 4-1 loss to the Bruins on Sept. 18.

High Standards: Cal Poly has tied a program Division I record for most victories in a season (11), accomplished five previous times – 1995, 1998, 2007, 2008 and 2012.

Grote’s Streak: Freshman George Grote has a three-match streak with at least one point.  He scored his first career goal in the conference tourney semis against Cal State Fullerton.

Against The Field: Cal Poly is 2-3-2 against the tournament field, logging wins against a pair of national seeds in No. 11 Seattle and No. 15 UC Santa Barbara.

One Short: With 21 career assists, senior Chase Minter is one away from entering the Big West all-time top 10.

CAL STATE FULLERTON

Two In A Row: Cal State Fullerton won its second straight Big West Tournament championship and advanced to its second NCAA Tournament under head coach George Kuntz.  The Titans host Santa Clara in the first round for their first postseason home match since 1998.

Dominance: Kuntz has led six teams to the Big West Tournament title – 4 at UC Irvine and 2 at CSF – in the eight-year history of the event.  He is 12-1-1 all-time in the tournament.

Shut Em Down: The Titans lead the Big West with 12 shutouts, and 11 of their 13 victories have come via the clean sheet.  The 12 clean sheets ties CSF with five other teams for the national lead – St. Francis Brooklyn, Denver, Western Michigan, Loyola-Chicago and American.

Baseline For Success:  The Titans are 8-0-0 this year when scoring two or more goals.  They are 15-0-1 over the last two seasons under those conditions, and have not lost a game after scoring multiple goals since Aug. 29, 2014.

UC SANTA BARBARA

Experience: UC Santa Barbara is the most experienced Big West postseason program, making the NCAA Tournament field for the 12th time in school history.  The Gauchos are a national seed and recipient of a first-round bye for the seventh time, joining teams from 2003 (11), 2004 (9), 2007 (12), 2008 (15), 2011 (15) and 2013 (10).

Snakebitten: UCSB dominated in all facets of last Saturday’s Big West Tournament title match, enjoying advantages in shots (22-5), shots on goal (6-1) and corner kicks (8-1), but lost 1-0 to an opportunistic CSF side that dropped the Gauchos to 1-4 all-time in the finals.  The Gauchos absorbed just their second shutout of the season.

Offense Unite: UCSB has just two goals in its last three games, the fewest the team has scored in any three-game stretch this season.  However, the Gauchos still own a national ranking of No. 16 in scoring offense with 39 goals.

Shot Taker and Maker: Junior Nick DePuy already ranks in a tie for No. 8 in UCSB history with 159 career shots, while his 25 goals is tied for No. 9.