And Then There Were Four
The quest to become 2017 Big West Men’s Soccer Tournament champion features four teams vying for that designation as well as an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
CSUN toppled Sacramento State in a 3-2 overtime thriller, while UC Riverside forged a 1-0 road upset of UC Santa Barbara to move onto the semifinals.
Saturday’s semifinal matchups:
(S2) CSUN at (N1) UC Davis
(S3) UC Riverside at (S1) Cal State Fullerton
Here is a quick rundown on the semifinals participants:
NORTH DIVISION UC DAVIS – NO. 1 SEED
All-Time Tourney Record: 3-6-1
Record In Semifinals: 1-4-0
Total Tourney Trips: 8
Best Finish: 2nd (2012 finals)
SOUTH DIVISION CAL STATE FULLERTON – NO. 1 SEED
All-Time Tourney Record: 6-3-2
Record In Semifinals: 4-1-0
Total Tourney Trips: 6
Best Finish: 1st (2014, 2015)
CSUN – NO. 2 SEED
All-Time Tourney Record: 6-3-1
Record In Semifinals: 2-1-1
Total Tourney Trips: 6
Best Finish: 1st (2012, 2016)
UC RIVERSIDE – NO. 3 SEED
All-Time Tourney Record: 1-4-0
Record In Semifinals: 0-2-0
Total Tourney Trips: 5
Best Finish: t-3rd (2011, 2014 semis)
SEMIFINAL NO. 1 – MATADORS VS. AGGIES
The two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in the Sept. 30 regular season matchup in Davis. The Aggies held a 21-5 shots advantage and broke a scoreless tie in the 88th minute when Miguel Acevedo scored on a penalty kick. But the Matadors responded with just 15 seconds left before full time, as Nicholas Grinde got hold of a loose ball in the box and chipped a shot into the net. Both squads share the Big West lead for wins (10). CSUN and UC Davis have met twice before in the Big West Tournament. The Matadors won in Davis in the 2012 finals, while the Aggies returned the favor in the 2015 first round in Northridge.
SEMIFINAL NO. 2 – HIGHLANDERS VS. TITANS
UC Riverside posted a win and a tie against Cal State Fullerton in the two regular season South Division tilts. UCR is the only team to have beaten both division No. 1 seeds this season. On Oct. 14, the Highlanders utilized first career goals from Olli Pirinen and James Alewine III to earn a 2-1 win. In the Oct. 21 rematch, the Titans avoided the loss when Samuel Goni scored with just over a minute and a half remaining to forge a 1-1 tie. CSF cruised to a 3-0 victory in the 2014 semis in Riverside in the only other postseason meeting. CSF is seeking its fourth straight Big West Tournament finals appearance.
• Since moving to divisional play in 2012, the South Division No. 1 seed has won the Big West Tournament championship four times (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016). The outlier was 2014 when South No. 3 seed Cal State Fullerton captured the title after playing three straight games on the road.
• A North Division team has never won the tournament title. In fact, a North Division team has reached the championship game just twice since 2012 – UC Davis in 2012 and UC Santa Barbara in 2015. From 2008-11 – the first four years of the tournament – UC Irvine and UCSB won all four titles when the conference played within a single division.
• Total Big West Tournament championship game appearances all-time – Cal State Fullerton (4), CSUN (3), UC Davis (1) and UC Riverside (0).
• CSUN triumph is a 10-game winner for the first time since 2013. UC Davis has amassed 10 wins for the first time since 2012.
• UC Riverside won its first Big West Tournament match in school history in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at UC Santa Barbara. The Highlanders were winless in four previous appearances.
• Cal State Fullerton would clinch its fourth straight 10-win season by defeating UC Riverside.
• CSUN’s Jeremy Degraffenreidt set a tourney single-game record with three assists in the first round.