Photo by: Andy Wilhelm
Jonathan Sabouri will look to improve on his team-leading six-goal freshman campaign of college soccer.

UC San Diego Opens 2018 Season and 10-Match Homestand This Thursday and Saturday Night


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Match 1 - Season Opener
vs. Biola (0-0, 0-0 PacWest)
Thursday, Aug. 30 • 7 p.m.
Triton Soccer Stadium • La Jolla
Live Video ($) • Live Stats

Match 2
vs. Azusa Pacific (0-0, 0-0 PacWest)
Saturday, Sept. 1 • 7 p.m.
Triton Soccer Stadium • La Jolla
Live Video ($) • Live Stats

The University of California San Diego men's soccer program begins the 2018 campaign and a lengthy run of home games with a pair of contests this week. The Tritons will be at home inside Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla through the entire month of September. UC San Diego hosts Biola University in both teams' season opener this Thursday, Aug. 30, followed by another Pacific West Conference (PacWest) foe in Azusa Pacific on Saturday, Sept. 1. Both kickoff times are set for primetime at 7 p.m. The fifth-ranked UC San Diego women face No. 7 Western Washington in their home opener on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., before the Triton men take to the pitch later that night.

Once again in 2018, all regular-season home matches at Triton Soccer Stadium are free to attend. Parking permits are required, however, on weeknights on the UC San Diego campus. Parking permits can be purchased at machines situated at corners of either of the nearest parking lots, which are behind the spectator stand, and the Hopkins Parking Structure adjacent to RIMAC. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday.

All UC San Diego home games in 2018 will feature a live pay-per-view video stream on The cost is $5.99 for a 24-hour window, and $34.99 for the entire 2018-19 academic year, to include other Triton athletics teams. Broadcasts are in high definition and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Seth Smith (@ItsSethESmith) handles the play-by-play duties. Events are archived. All games have live stats. 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 UC San Diego Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.

UC San Diego is 12-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000). Most recently, the Tritons played to a scoreless draw at Biola last Aug. 31. They are an unbeaten 3-0-2 over their last five lid-lifters. UC San Diego is 9-7-2 in CCAA openers with back-to-back shutout losses at Cal State San Marcos (1-0) in 2016 and at home to Chico State (2-0) in 2017.

First-year UC San Diego assistant coach Gareth Tomlinson is a 2010 graduate (sociology) of Azusa Pacific University, with a master's (organizational leadership) from the same institution in 2012. He played for the Cougars during the 2007-09 seasons, aiding them to an NAIA national title in 2007 (20-1-1). Tomlinson also later served as an APU assistant coach.

UC San Diego was picked to finish third in the 2018 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) race, as voted on by the league's 13 head coaches for the preseason poll released Tuesday. The Tritons collected 125 points and one of the 13 first-place votes. Fourth-ranked defending West Region champion and 2017 national semifinalist Cal Poly Pomona is the favorite with 129 points and four first-place votes. Cal State LA, the 2017 CCAA Tournament champion in La Jolla, was second, just three points behind with 126, and in fact one more first-place nod than CPP, at five. Chico State took up the fourth spot (106). San Francisco State was fifth (101) with a first-place vote. Cal State San Bernardino (83) rounded out the projected CCAA tourney field. In seventh, Cal State Dominguez Hills (78) still managed the final two first-place votes. Sonoma State (68), Stanislaus State (55), Cal State Monterey Bay (46), Humboldt State (46), Cal State San Marcos (32) and Cal State East Bay (19) filled out the poll.

UC San Diego is 63-22-17 (.701) at Triton Soccer Stadium under Jon Pascale, and 19-2-4 (.840) over its last 25 in La Jolla since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015. The Tritons had an 18-match home unbeaten streak that stretched out over nearly two full calendar years, ended by Chico State, 2-0, last Sept. 15. They wound up 5-2-2 at home a year ago, after finishing an unbeaten 12-0-1 there in 2016 and 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015.

UC San Diego has developed a reputation under head coach Jon Pascale of being a strong defensive unit, and has ranked in the top 17 nationally in the NCAA Division II in team goals-against average in five out of the last six seasons. The Tritons were 17th (0.76) a year ago, allowing 14 goals in all after 248:31 of shutout soccer for openers. They led the CCAA and were second in the West Region. UC San Diego surrendered just 13 goals over 24 matches in 2016 for a 0.52 GAA, which ranked fourth in the country. Only eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. The Tritons posted a Division II-era program-record 14 clean sheets. The team's longest shutout stretch that year was 513:54 through four-plus games, with two more of 356:51 and 353:12. The Tritons boasted one of the top seven defenses in Division II for three straight seasons between 2012-14, but fell back to the 48th spot in 2015 (1.09). They led the country in team GAA in 2012 with a then-CCAA-record mark of 0.44, before finishing fourth in 2013 (0.52) and seventh in 2014 (0.65).

Eight of UC San Diego's 17 games in 2017 went into overtime, with dramatic road wins at Azusa Pacific and Cal State San Marcos, and five double-overtime draws, around a thrilling home decision over CCAA rival Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. The Tritons were an unbeaten 3-0-5 in such games last year, and are 8-0-19 in overtime contests since their last such loss in 2014.

Among 30 players on the 2018 roster are 18 returners and 12 newcomers, eight of them true freshmen ... All but two, new transfers Stjepan Kilic (Coppell, Texas) and Jón Veigar Kristjánsson (Kópavogur, Iceland), are California natives ... The five seniors are Nathaniel Bloom, Kiefer Cooksey, Christian Cordell, Matt Merrill and Jeff Powers, with Andy Sartor a redshirt junior in his fourth year ... Cordell (international business), Merrill (international business) and Powers (communication) are fifth-year seniors who will have completed their UC San Diego degrees at the conclusion of the fall quarter ... There are five local products in Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy), and second-year Tritons 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) ... Redshirt freshman Darragh Buckley is the younger brother of former Triton Padraig Buckley (2010-13).

UC San Diego is the proud host of the 2018 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals for the second consecutive year and fifth time in all. Two men's and two women's semifinals will be contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2, with the two finals set for Sunday, Nov. 4. Exact times are to be determined. First-round matchups take place on the campuses of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on Tuesday, Oct. 30. In all four previous instances that UC San Diego has served as host, in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2017, the Triton men have not been present in the semifinal round. For just the second time, the CCAA men's champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.

For the fifth 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 2018 CCAA Tournament.

Jon Pascale, the three-time CCAA Coach of the Year, is entering his 11th season at the helm. Fifth-year seniors Christian Cordell, Matt Merrill and Jeff Powers return, and are the projected starters on the right side of midfield, holding central midfield, and right back, respectively. Next to Powers across the back line are likely to be redshirt freshman Oliver Nelson, junior Kelvin Uribe and junior newcomer Stjepan Kilic, a transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson. Another transfer, Icelandic sophomore Jón Veigar Kristjánsson from USC Upstate, is the expected partner to Merrill in central midfield. Redshirt junior Andy Sartor, who sat out last season through injury, could play opposite Cordell. Much will be expected in their sophomore go-arounds from the speedy strike tandem of Brett Jones and Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy). Sophomore Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) is the incumbent between the posts. Veterans in the mix include seniors Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy) and Kiefer Cooksey, and junior Jonathan Stoop. Powers, Sabouri and Uribe all picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions last fall.

UC San Diego will look to bounce back from a peculiar 2017 season that saw several tough, dramatic victories and two solitary losses (10-2-5, 7-1-3 CCAA), only for it to be cut abruptly short ahead of the CCAA Tournament semifinals the Tritons were themselves hosting. The Tritons had wound up third in the final league table. However, Cal State Dominguez Hills was forced to vacate its regular-season title last week due to uncovered infractions, with UC San Diego moving up to second through adjustments made following the application of nullification penalties by the CCAA. All that was coming off the most successful season of the program's Division II era in 2016, as the treble winner of the CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and West Region championships, each for the first time. The Tritons have made five successive postseason appearances in the form of the CCAA Tournament, with NCAA Championship berths in 2013, 2014 and 2016. UC San Diego went an unbeaten 5-0-3 away from home in 2017.

Jon Pascale, a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year (2012, 2013, 2016), has posted a 103-51-38 (.635) overall record in his 10 years in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 72-40-27 (.615) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. The Tritons have now earned five successive berths in the CCAA Tournament, with trips to the NCAA Championship in 2013, 2014 and 2016. They have posted eight straight campaigns with an overall record of .500 or better, and eight winning seasons out of Pascale's 10. In 2016, he guided the Tritons to their very first CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and Division II West Region titles, having joined in 2000. 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 last Oct. 4 was career win No. 100.

Biola (0-0) transitioned from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) into the NCAA Division II and officially joined the PacWest last year. The Eagles are seventh in that 12-team league's preseason poll, having finished 8-8-2 overall and sixth in the 2017 PacWest table (7-5-1). Senior midfielder Kousei Mattox, from Yokohama, Japan, is on the Preseason All-PacWest Team. Biola had posted a winning record in each of the previous six seasons in the NAIA. The Eagles were 3-3-1 away from home a year ago. They play two more CCAA sides after Thursday, traveling to Cal State San Marcos on Saturday and hosting Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 8. Todd Elkins enters his sixth season in charge of the Biola men.

UC San Diego holds a 12-7-2 advantage in the all-time series. The sides most recently played to a scoreless draw in the 2017 opener in La Mirada. The meeting prior to that actually marked the Tritons' first-ever match as a member of the NCAA Division II, back on Sept. 1, 2000. UC San Diego won that one, 2-1. These teams faced off once each year from 1985-2000, with the Tritons holding a 12-4 edge in those matchups after Biola had the upper hand, at 3-0-1, in the earliest days of the series.

Azusa Pacific (0-0) was in the fifth position in the PacWest preseason coaches' poll for a second straight year. The Cougars placed eighth a year ago, going 6-10-1 overall, 6-6-1 in league play, and 2-6 on the road. Junior forward Arturo Astorga and senior midfielder Aleksandar Pumpalovic are members of the Preseason All-PacWest Team. APU kicks things off at home on Thursday night against another CCAA foe, Cal State Dominguez Hills. David Blomquist begins his milestone 10th year at the helm. He was named the 2014 PacWest Coach of the Year when APU qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship in its first season of eligibility, winning the PacWest crown with an 11-1 league mark.

UC San Diego holds the slightest of edges in this all-time series, 12-11-2. The Tritons have won back-to-back overtime thrillers the past two seasons, both by the final score of 2-1. The teams have faced off in each of the last four years since APU moved into the NCAA Division II, and all four have gone into overtime. The first three were all double-overtime affairs. UC San Diego is 2-1-1 in those matchups, with the two successive wins. Last Sept. 7 in Azusa, Uly de la Cal put in the rebound of an initial Kiefer Cooksey shot at 96:45, after goals by Steven Ortiz and Astorga canceled each other out in regulation. In the 2016 season opener in La Jolla, the Tritons got goals from twins Sam Palano and Nick Palano, the latter assisted by Sam with just 101 seconds left in double overtime, to overturn an early second-half deficit. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Azusa in 2015 as de la Cal and Keenan Armbrust traded first-half penalty-kick goals. That result followed a double-overtime 1-0 triumph for APU in La Jolla on Sept. 20, 2014, courtesy of Armbrust's strike at 101:43. The programs previously met in Azusa in the Tritons' 2003 season opener on Sept. 3, with UC San Diego coming away with a 3-0 victory.

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The lengthy homestand continues with another non-conference pair, as UC San Diego welcomes in a third and final PacWest foe in Concordia Irvine on Thursday night, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. The Tritons then face a rare Monday matinee on Sept. 10, against Saint Martin's at 1:30 p.m.


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