TRITONS CONTINUE NON-LEAGUE PLAY WITH HOME PAIR
The University of California San Diego men's soccer team continues its 10-match homestand with another pair of non-conference contests. The Tritons (2-0) host Concordia Irvine (0-1) of the Pacific West Conference (PacWest) in primetime on Thursday night, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m., followed by Saint Martin's (0-2) of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) in a rare weekday matinee on Monday, Sept. 10, at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free into Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla. UC San Diego defeated Biola and Azusa Pacific for starters last week, picked seventh and fifth, respectively, in the PacWest's preseason poll. Concordia will constitute another step up for the Tritons, as it was favored for second.
TRITON SOCCER MATCHDAY
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.
TRITON SOCCER ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
All UC San Diego home games in 2018 feature a live pay-per-view video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. 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 IN THE UNITED SOCCER COACHES POLL
• Sept. 4: RV (4th in West)
• Preseason: NR
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UC San Diego notched a pair of home wins against PacWest foes to kick things off for 2018. The Tritons blanked Biola, 1-0, last Thursday night on Max Gonda's first career goal in his collegiate debut, late in the first half. The second-year freshman midfielder headed in Nathaniel Bloom's left-sided corner kick, giving the fourth-year senior forward his first career assist. True freshman Nick Cirrito and sophomore Jonathan Sabouri, both forwards, then each provided a goal and an assist as UC San Diego defeated Azusa Pacific, 3-1, on Saturday night. It was junior Jonathan Stoop, however, who grabbed the winner, getting on the end of a stellar free-kick organization as Sabouri fed into the box, and Jeff Powers headed back across the middle, for Stoop to poke home his third career score, and first winner. Powers finished with a pair of helpers, with Bloom adding his second of 2018. Pedro Enciso made a pair of second-half saves to notch the individual clean sheet against Biola, and came up with five more critical stops in the APU match.
UC San Diego is now 13-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000), following a 1-0 shutout over Biola on Aug. 30. The Tritons had played to a scoreless draw at Biola a year ago. They are an unbeaten 4-0-2 over their last six 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.
FAVORED FOR THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL
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. The Tritons collected 125 points and one of the 13 first-place votes. 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 65-22-17 (.707) at Triton Soccer Stadium under Jon Pascale, and 21-2-4 (.852) over its last 27 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).
CCAA TOURNAMENT REMAINS IN LA JOLLA
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.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
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.
2018 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time CCAA Coach of the Year, is in 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 or true freshman Noah Sonenstein at one center back spot, junior Kelvin Uribe at the other, and junior newcomer Stjepan Kilic, a transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson, as the left back. 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 looks 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 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.
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year (2012, 2013, 2016), has posted a 105-51-38 (.639) overall record to date in his 11th year 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 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.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
Concordia Irvine (0-1) was picked to finish second in the 12-team PacWest, with a pair of first-place votes. The program is in its second year of NCAA Division II Championship eligibility, with a previous affiliation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The Eagles went 9-5-3 overall, 7-3-2 in PacWest play and 2-5-2 away from home a year ago. Forward Connor Gordon was their lone representative on the Preseason All-PacWest Team. Concordia losts its opener, 2-1, at home to Cal State San Marcos last Thursday, despite senior defender John Letona giving the Eagles an early lead in the 16th minute. Chris Gould is in his 10th season in charge at his alma mater.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 2-1-2, following a pair of draws, 2-2 in La Jolla last Sept. 9, and 0-0 in Irvine on Sept. 17. 2016. The Tritons stormed back late from a 2-0 deficit in the most recent meeting, with goals coming from Nolan Mac and Jonathan Stoop at 87:06 and 87:36, the latter via penalty kick. UC San Diego won 1-0 in La Jolla on Sept. 8, 2015, thanks to then-freshman Nathaniel Bloom's first career goal in the 26th minute. The teams met in La Jolla on Aug. 30, 2008, with UC San Diego posting a 2-0 shutout through a Tony Fernandez brace. The Eagles won 1-0 in the Tritons' 2007 season opener, also in La Jolla.
ABOUT THE SAINTS
Saint Martin's (0-2), located in Lacey, Wash., is picked to finish seventh in the seven-team GNAC. The Saints have opened the new year with losses to Westminster College of Utah, 3-1, and Cal State LA, 1-0, both in Nampa, Idaho. On Monday in La Jolla, they will be playing their third match in five days, as Saint Martin's is at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Thursday night, and at Cal State San Marcos on Saturday afternoon. The Saints went 2-14-1 overall, including 0-10 away from home, and 2-9-1 in league play in 2017. Rob Walker is in his 12th season in charge.
UC San Diego and Saint Martin's have met four times previously, with the Tritons leading the series, 2-1-1. Most recently, UC San Diego routed the Saints, 6-0, in La Jolla on Sept. 10, 2016. The sides played to a 1-1 draw in the 2015 season opener for both at SMU. Previously, the Saints posted a 1-0 victory on Sept. 3, 2011, with the Tritons rallying for a 2-1 triumph to begin the 2014 campaign on Sept. 4. Brandon Bauman equalized with just 50 ticks left in the first half, with Sam Palano notching the winner at 79:08.
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FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
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After Monday, UC San Diego is set for the 12-game CCAA schedule, beginning at home with Cal State Monterey Bay on Friday, Sept. 14, at 4:30 p.m., and Cal State East Bay on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 11:30 a.m.