No. 18 UC San Diego in Bay Area for Final Week of Regular Season With Chance to Improve CCAA Tournament Position
TRITONS CONCLUDE REGULAR SEASON IN BAY AREA
The 18th-ranked University of California San Diego men's soccer program went up to the Bay Area on Wednesday, Oct. 25, to wrap up the 2017 regular season with two final California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) games. The Tritons (9-1-4, 6-1-2 CCAA) are in Hayward on Thursday, Oct. 26, to meet Cal State East Bay (3-11-2, 0-9-1 CCAA) at 4:30 p.m., and then in Seaside on Saturday, Oct. 28, for a matchup with Cal State Monterey Bay (2-11-1, 1-8-1 CCAA) at 11:30 a.m. The Tritons are 4-0-2 on the road in 2017 and an unbeaten 7-0-2 over their last nine contests overall.
Thursday's match at Cal State East Bay only has live stats, but Saturday's regular-season finale at Cal State Monterey Bay will also feature a live video stream. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Starting lineups, live in-game updates and other news and notes can be found by following Triton Soccer all season long on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
Wednesday marked the unveiling of the second official NCAA regional polls, with UCSD staying in second behind undefeated California Baptist, and ahead of Simon Fraser, Cal Poly Pomona, Chico State, Point Loma, Notre Dame de Namur and Cal State LA. The top six teams in the final edition of those rankings, qualify for the NCAA Championship. The third release is set for next Wednesday, Nov. 1. The 38-team NCAA field will be unveiled on Monday, Nov. 6, at 3:30 p.m. PT, live on NCAA.com. For the very first time, there are automatic qualifiers for the men's tournament, including all three West Region conferences in the CCAA, Great Northwest Athletic Conference and Pacific West Conference. The CCAA's automatic qualifier will be the tournament champion. The other two leagues do not have tourneys.
UC San Diego opened 2017 exactly where it ended 2016 in terms of national ranking, appearing in the No. 4 spot in the rebranded United Soccer Coaches (formerly National Soccer Coaches Association of America) preseason poll. It matched the program's highest position of its NCAA Division II era, since 2000, incidentally from the final 2016 poll. After drawing at Biola in their opener, the Tritons fell out of the national rankings. On Oct. 17, UCSD jumped back into the national poll, at No. 19, as the only CCAA representative, and moved up from fifth to third in the United Soccer Coaches West Region listing. The Tritons are No. 18 as of Oct. 24, and still third in the West.
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UCSD rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, and then ultimately came away with a dramatic 3-2 victory in double overtime in a non-conference matchup at Cal State San Marcos last Friday afternoon, Oct. 13. Steven Ortiz nodded home Kiefer Cooksey's cross for the equalizer in the 26th minute after the Tritons had surrendered an uncharacteristic goal just 7:45 in. True freshman Brett Jones hit the go-ahead tally in the 35th with the assist going to Uly de la Cal, but an exquisite strike by Cougar senior Victor Gonzalez pulled the match level again at 70:25. With only 4:26 remaining in the second and final extra period, Jones completed his first collegiate brace, tucking home his own rebound after an initial effort was cleared off the goal line by a CSUSM defender. Malek Bashti did real well to beat his defender to the end line on the right side, before crossing over to Jones for the finish.
CCAA TOURNAMENT UPDATE
Earlier this week, the CCAA officially announced that UCSD and Cal State San Marcos' matches at Sonoma State on Oct. 13 and Oct. 15 that were postponed due to wildfires, would not be made up, with that decision necessitating a new standings structure for 2017 that calls for a points-per-game format. With that in mind, results last Friday, Oct. 20, clinched a fifth straight CCAA Tournament berth for the Tritons, with losses by Cal State San Bernardino and later Cal State LA at Humboldt State in Sunday's final match, 2-1, assuring the Tritons of at least one more home date for 2017. UCSD will at worst be the No. 4 seed and host a first-round match on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. The Tritons could still, however, move into one of the top two positions and earn a first-round bye, meaning a CCAA semifinal in La Jolla on Friday, Nov. 3. UCSD maintains an outside shot of repeating as the CCAA regular-season champion, but would need some help in addition to two wins this week.
100 WINS FOR PASCALE
The 1-0 home victory over city rival Cal State San Marcos on Wednesday night, Oct. 4, meant career win No. 100 for 10th-year head coach Jon Pascale. The three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year heads into Thursday with records of 102-50-37 overall and 71-40-26 in CCAA play.
UC San Diego had its 18-match home unbeaten streak that stretched out over nearly two full calendar years, ended by Chico State, 2-0, on Friday, Sept. 15. The Tritons are still 5-1-2 at home this season, after finishing an unbeaten 12-0-1 there in 2016 and 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015. They are 63-21-17 (.708) in La Jolla under Jon Pascale. UCSD is 19-1-4 (.875) in its last 24 at Triton Soccer Stadium, since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015.
Senior defender Nolan Mac did not find the back of the net over 35 career appearances his first three seasons in a UCSD uniform. In his final collegiate campaign, and still from his position at left back, he shares the team lead with four others at three goals each, over 13 games, with all three of them coming in the 80th minute or later. The latest was the equalizer at 79:38 at No. 19 Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 22. The Tritons went on to win it, 2-1.
Seven of UCSD's 14 games thus far in 2017 have gone into overtime, with dramatic road wins at APU and Cal State San Marcos and a quartet of double-overtime draws around a thrilling home win over Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. UCSD is thus an unbeaten 3-0-4 in such games this year and 8-0-18 in overtime contests since its last such loss in 2014.
UCSD has given up 12 goals in 2017 after 248:31 of shutout soccer to begin the season. The Tritons are thus second in the CCAA, fifth in the West Region and 24th nationally with a 0.790 team goals-against average. They allowed just 13 goals over 24 matches a year ago for a 0.52 GAA, which ranked fourth in all of the NCAA Division II. Eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. UCSD was second in save percentage (.857) and fifth in shutout percentage (0.58), with a Division II-era program-record 14 clean sheets. The team's longest shutout stretch last year was 513:54 through four-plus shutouts, with two more of 356:51 and 353:12. The Tritons boasted one of the top seven defenses nationally in Division II in terms of team GAA for three straight seasons between 2012-14, but fell back to the 48th spot in 2015 (1.09). They led the country in that category in 2012 with a then-CCAA-record mark of 0.44, before finishing fourth in 2013 (0.52) and seventh in 2014 (0.65).
UCSD is the favorite to repeat as the CCAA champion, as voted on by league head coaches in the 2017 preseason poll, having accumulated 130 points and eight of the 13 first-place votes after being picked fifth a year ago and loudly defying that prognostication ... UCSD is 12-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000), including the scoreless draw at Biola on Aug. 31, and is thus an unbeaten 3-0-2 in the last five years ... UCSD is 9-7-2 in CCAA openers with back-to-back shutout losses at home to Chico State (2-0) this year and at Cal State San Marcos (1-0) last season ... UCSD had a CCAA-best 39 goals over 24 games in 2016 after managing 15 in 18 matches in 2015, marking a program record for the Division II era ... The Tritons struck for four goals in a span of 16:30 of the first half and ultimately cruised to a 4-0 defeat of visiting Stanislaus State on Sept 17 ... For the fifth straight year and sixth in the last seven, UCSD recently earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award with a 3.29 combined GPA for 2016-17.
STAT OF THE YEAR
If there was one telling statistic from the 2016 campaign, it was that on seven occasions, the Tritons surrendered a game's first score before rallying for a 2-1 victory via late goals. It happened in each of their first two games at home to begin the year, and turned into an exhilarating trend. UCSD achieved that score line three times in La Jolla and four times away from home, those four all in succession before a final instance in the national quarterfinal at Triton Soccer Stadium on Nov. 20. So far in 2017, the Tritons have done it two more times, both against traditional rivals who were nationally-ranked at the time, at No. 19 Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22 with two goals over the final 10:22 of regulation, and then at home in overtime against No. 17 Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. UCSD also fell behind 2-0 at home to Concordia on Sept. 9 before storming back for a 2-2 draw, and 1-0 at Cal State San Marcos on Oct. 20 prior to pulling out a 3-2 decision in double overtime.
Among 27 players on the 2017 roster are 18 returners and nine newcomers, five of them true freshmen ... The eight seniors are Malek Bashti, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta, Nolan Mac, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban and Eric Young ... There are six local products in Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), junior forward Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy), and freshmen Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy), Jordan Karam (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), Oliver Nelson (Escondido/Escondido HS) and Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) ... True freshman Darragh Buckley is the younger brother of former Triton Padraig Buckley (2010-13).
CCAA TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO LA JOLLA
UC San Diego is the proud host of the 2017 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals, for the first time since 2008 and fourth in all. Two women's and two men's semifinals will be contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 3, with the two finals set for Sunday, Nov. 5. First-round matchups will take place on the campuses of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on Tuesday, Oct. 31. In all three previous instances that UCSD has served as host, in 2001, 2006 and 2008, the Triton men have been unable to qualify. Significantly for the first time this year, the men's champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
For the fourth year in a row, the CCAA slate consists of a single round robin, with all teams meeting once for 12 matches total, and the top six sides (based on most points; three points for a league win, one for a tie) in the final regular-season standings qualifying for the 2017 CCAA Tournament. Cal State San Marcos, a new addition in 2015, is eligible for the first time.
2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year in his 10th year in charge, has had to replace eight valuable seniors, but still has a bevy of veterans to rely on in 2017. Included in that group are Malek Bashti, Christian Cordell, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), Nolan Mac, Matt Merrill, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban, Jeff Powers and Eric Young, all seniors academically or athletically. Bashti and Mac picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions a season ago, and Lagotta in 2015, with de la Cal the top returning point-getter with 16 from four goals and a team-best eight assists in 2016. Bashti, Lagotta, Mac, Merrill and Powers were regular starters, at forward, right wing, left back, holding central midfield and right back, respectively. Fifth-year Triton Bashti had three goals and seven assists. Cordell is the leading returning goal-scorer, with five off the bench as a sophomore.
UC San Diego is coming off of the most successful season of its Division II era, as the treble winner of the CCAA regular-season, CCAA tournament and West Region championships, all for the first time. UCSD shocked Cal Poly Pomona on the road, 2-1, on the final day to steal the CCAA regular-season title, and later also turned the 2015 West Region champions and national runners-up away in the West final in La Jolla, 1-0 in overtime. The Tritons advanced to the national semifinals in Kansas City, Mo., fell to the eventual champions and finished 19-3-2 overall and 9-2-1 in league play. They have now made four successive postseason appearances in the form of the CCAA Tournament, with NCAA Championship berths in 2013, 2014 and 2016. UCSD went an unbeaten 12-0-1 at home in 2016.
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, now a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year through back-to-back honors in 2012 and 2013 and another last season, has posted a 102-50-37 (.638) overall record in his 10th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 71-40-26 (.613) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. Last season, Pascale guided the Tritons to the very first CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and Division II West Region titles in the program's 17 years as a league and Division II member. It was UCSD's seventh straight campaign with an overall record of .500 or better, with seven winning seasons out of Pascale's nine. The Tritons have now earned five successive berths in the CCAA Tournament, with trips to the NCAA Championship in 2013, 2014 and 2016. A 1-0 home victory over Sonoma State on Sept. 29, 2013, gave Pascale career win No. 50, while a 2-0 triumph at Stanislaus State in the very next match on Oct. 4 marked his 100th contest at the Triton helm. He directed his first postseason tilt on Nov. 8, 2013, in Turlock, a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime win over Chico State in a CCAA semifinal. He made his NCAA tourney debut as a head coach on Nov. 16, 2013, in La Jolla. A 2-0 home decision over Cal State East Bay on Oct. 12, 2014, meant CCAA win No. 50 for Pascale, who coached his 100th CCAA tilt at Cal State Monterey Bay five days later. The 2-0 decision versus Western Washington on Nov. 13, 2016, meant Pascale's first NCAA tournament win as a head coach. The 1-0 home victory over Cal State San Marcos this season back on Oct. 4 was career win No. 100.
ABOUT THE PIONEERS
Cal State East Bay (3-11-2, 0-9-1 CCAA) takes up the bottom perch in the league standings. The Pioneers are 3-6-1 on their turf surface in Hayward. East Bay is coming off two losses last weekend, 6-2 at Chico State and 3-2 at Stanislaus State. Mike Bielski is the second-year head coach.
UCSD has never lost to Cal State East Bay, posting 11 wins and a single draw in 12 prior meetings. The Tritons won 3-0 in Hayward last year, 1-0 in La Jolla in 2015, 2-0 in La Jolla in 2014, and 2-0 in Hayward in 2013. The lone tie came in scoreless fashion in Hayward on Oct. 26, 2012. The Tritons have not allowed a goal to the Pioneers over their last nine-plus matchups, meaning 832:30 without a score going back to a 3-2 UCSD win in Hayward on Oct. 9, 2009. The Tritons are 9-0-1 against the Pioneers since East Bay joined the CCAA for the 2009 season, with prior meetings in Hayward as fellow Division III programs in 1992 (3-1) and 1994 (2-1), when the school was known as Cal State Hayward.
ABOUT THE OTTERS
Cal State Monterey Bay (2-11-1, 1-8-1 CCAA) is 11th in the CCAA standings and a winless 0-4-1 over its last five. The Otters, 1-4 at home in 2017, host Cal State San Marcos on Friday. Shane Carew is in his first season in charge in Seaside.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 8-2-3. The Tritons are unbeaten in their last 10 (7-0-3) against the Otters, with five of those seven wins of the one-goal variety around 5-0 and 2-0 triumphs in Seaside in 2012 and 2016, respectively. They rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit to edge out a 3-2 decision on Oct. 9, 2015, with Brandon Monteiro Magpayo turning in a brace around a Justice Duerksen equalizer from the penalty spot. The Tritons had won four straight over the Otters, including a come-from-behind 2-1 decision behind a late Andisheh Bagheri brace in La Jolla in 2013, prior to a scoreless draw in Seaside on Oct. 17, 2014.
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Depending on this week's results, UCSD will either host a CCAA Tournament first-round game on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m., or a CCAA semifinal on Friday, Nov. 3, at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.