TRITONS CONTINUE TOUGH STRETCH ON THE ROAD
The No. 16 University of California San Diego men's soccer team concludes a season-long four-match road stretch with a pair of crucial California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) tilts against Southern California rivals. The seventh-place Tritons (9-1-2, 3-1-2 CCAA) are at Cal State San Bernardino (8-3, 5-1 CCAA) on Friday, Oct. 12, with kickoff set for 12:30 p.m. at Premier Field. They then head to Pomona to take on reigning West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona (7-4, 5-1 CCAA) on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 11:30 a.m. Those clubs are tied for second in the current league table. Both matches will open doubleheaders with the No. 10 UC San Diego women.
In the CCAA's preseason poll, UC San Diego was picked third and Cal State San Bernardino sixth, with Cal Poly Pomona the favorite among 13 squads. UC San Diego, CSUSB and CPP are ranked No. 3, No. 7 and No. 10, respectively, in the latest United Soccer Coaches West Region poll.
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. By University policy, pets are not allowed at Triton Soccer Stadium, with the exception of service animals.
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, meaning one fee for doubleheaders, 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. This week, only Sunday's tilt at CPP will have a video stream, with commentary, for free. 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). You can also check out in-match Instagram stories during home dates on the UC San Diego Athletics account (@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
• Oct. 9: 16 (3rd in West)
• Oct. 2: 9 (2nd in West)
• Sept. 25: 13 (3rd in West)
• Sept. 18: 23 (4th in West)
• Sept. 11: 14 (2nd in West)
• Sept. 4: RV (4th in West)
• Preseason: NR
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UC San Diego played to a scoreless draw at city rival Cal State San Marcos in its first road foray last Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 3, before suffering its first loss of the 2018 campaign, 3-1, at San Francisco State on Sunday in a nationally-televised affair. Jonathan Sabouri's goal early in the second half, assisted by Christian Cordell, served as the Tritons' lone tally against the Gators. UC San Diego had not allowed three scores in a single game since another 3-1 CCAA road defeat, at Cal State San Bernardino, on Oct. 27, 2016.
UC San Diego's 9-0-1 overall record out of the gate marked the Tritons' best 10-game start under 11th-year head coach Jon Pascale, and their best in three decades, since the 1988 squad also began the season at 9-0-1. That team went on to the school's first of three national championships, posting a program-best mark of 23-0-2.
UC San Diego is 72-22-18 (.723) at Triton Soccer Stadium under Jon Pascale, and 28-2-5 (.871) over its last 35 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, on Sept. 15, 2017. 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 are currently 18th (0.707). They are fifth in the West Region and fourth in the CCAA. UC San Diego was 17th (0.76) a year ago, allowing 14 goals in all after 248:31 of shutout soccer for openers. It led the CCAA and was second in the West Region. The team surrendered 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. UC San Diego 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). It 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).
UC San Diego is 11-0-21 in overtime contests since its last such loss in 2014. Eight of its 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 have played five overtime contests in 2018, including three straight from Sept. 16-23, going 3-0-2. The three wins, all at home, were 1-0 over Concordia Irvine (9/6), 3-2 against city rival Cal State San Marcos (9/21), and 1-0 in double overtime versus Occidental (9/23). The decider against Concordia came off the right foot of fifth-year senior Christian Cordell with a single tick left in the first session, officially at 99:59. Watch the incredible sequence that began with seven seconds remaining on the clock, here. Also view Jonathan Stoop's CSUSM winner here, and Andy Sartor's decider against Oxy here.
CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK NOD FOR BLOOM
Nathaniel Bloom was named on Oct. 2 as the CCAA Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 24-30. Bloom tallied both game-winning goals as UC San Diego swept a home weekend. Having last scored as a true freshman on Sept. 8, 2015, Bloom headed in the 42nd-minute opener against Sonoma State on Sept. 28, in a 2-0 shutout. He then provided another late first-half goal two days later against Humboldt State to make it 2-0, in what ended as a 3-1 decision. The times of the goals were 41:37 and 41:04. Bloom produced those goals on his only two shot attempts for the weekend. He is the first UC San Diego men's soccer player to earn CCAA Player of the Week distinction since another senior, Christian Cordell, picked up the 2016 season's final award on Nov. 1, 2016, after his historic 89th-minute goal at Cal Poly Pomona to give the Tritons their first CCAA regular-season title in program history.
Fifth-year senior Matt Merrill's first collegiate goal was a sight to behold, serving as the dramatic, 80th-minute winner in a come-from-behind, 2-1 home decision over Cal State Monterey Bay in the CCAA opener on Sept. 14. The Mission Viejo product one-timed sophomore forward Brett Jones' left-sided corner kick into the upper right corner, off the crossbar and in, with his right foot from outside of 25 yards. Click here to view the stunner.
Three Triton newcomers have tallied the first goal of their collegiate careers, in sophomore playmaker Jón Veigar Kristjánsson, second-year freshman winger Max Gonda and true freshman forward Nick Cirrito. Kristjánsson tallied the opener against Saint Martin's (9/10), Gonda the lone winner in his college debut in the opener with Biola (8/30), and Cirrito the opener against Azusa Pacific (9/1). Cirrito, out of Diamond Bar, has since added his first career winner versus SMU. Kristjánsson and junior left back Stjepan Kilic, both Division I transfers, made their UC San Diego debuts as starters in the opener, with junior college transfer Matt Davis coming off the bench. Cirrito, Gonda, true freshman center back Noah Sonenstein and redshirt freshman defenders Darragh Buckley and Oliver Nelson have all made their first college appearances.
The Tritons did not surrender a first-half goal in the first 11 games of 2018, until San Francisco State grabbed a pair on Oct. 7 en route to a 3-1 home win ... Both of sophomore forward Brett Jones' collegiate braces (two-goal games) have come against crosstown rival CSUSM ... Redshirt junior winger Andy Sartor rescued UC San Diego through this left-footed blast from just inside 25 yards, with 5:27 remaining in the second overtime session to dispatch Occidental (9/23) ... UC San Diego is 13-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000) following a 1-0 shutout over Biola on Aug. 30, and is an unbeaten 4-0-2 over its last six lid-lifters ... The Tritons are 10-7-2 in CCAA openers, having snapped a two-match losing skid (1-0 at CSUSM in 2016 and 2-0 vs. Chico State in 2017), with a 2-1 triumph vs. Cal State Monterey Bay on Sept. 14 ... UC San Diego was picked to finish third in the 2018 CCAA race, collecting 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, with Cal State LA, the 2017 CCAA Tournament champion in La Jolla, second, just three points behind with one more first-place nod than CPP.
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 Division I 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 112-52-40 (.647) overall record to date in his 11th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 75-41-29 (.617) 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. The 1-0 overtime win at home over Occidental on Sept. 25 marked Pascale's 200th game at the helm.
ABOUT THE COYOTES
Cal State San Bernardino (8-3, 5-1 CCAA) took a pair of impressive shutout victories from the extremely-tough Humboldt State (3-0)-Sonoma State (2-0) road trip last weekend. Winners of three straight in all, the Coyotes are 6-2 at home. They are second in the CCAA with 26 total goals scored. Senior midfielder Danny Ortiz, named Tuesday as the CCAA Player of the Week for a second time this season, has scored (seven) or assisted (11) on 18 of them, or 69 percent. He leads the CCAA in assists and points, and is tied for second in goals. Darren Leslie is in his third year as the Coyote head coach.
UC San Diego holds the advantage in the all-time series, 22-17-7. The Tritons won 1-0 at home a season ago, after the teams split two meetings in 2016. CSUSB took the regular-season contest, 3-1 at home on Oct. 27, as the Coyotes scored three times within eight minutes late. The Tritons then upended the Coyotes 1-0 in a CCAA Tournament semifinal in Turlock on Nov. 4, via Justice Duerksen's 55th-minute strike. The sides played to a scoreless draw on Sept. 20, 2015, in La Jolla. The Tritons rolled 4-0 at home with four different goal-scorers in 2014, and swept the 2013 season series with a pair of 1-0 victories. The teams tied 1-1 in San Bernardino on Sept. 16, 2012, before a 2-0 Triton win in La Jolla two weeks later. UC San Diego swept both matches in 2011, and is 8-1-2 over the last 11 meetings since a 1-0 loss in San Bernardino on Oct. 24, 2010. The Coyotes hadn't scored against the Tritons in 576:57, since late in that 1-1 deadlock in 2012, until their equalizer at 74:23 of the 2016 regular-season tilt.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS
Cal Poly Pomona (7-4, 5-1 CCAA) has righted the ship after a tough start to its season that saw it lose three straight and four of five after a 1-0 double-overtime win for openers. The Broncos have taken five in a row, including last weekend's difficult road sweep of Sonoma State (3-1) and Humboldt State (2-1). They played a man down for over 50 minutes against the Seawolves, and rallied from a 1-0 deficit against the Jacks. CPP has appeared in three of the last four West Region finals, winning that trophy in 2015 and advancing all the way to the national championship game, before dropping a 1-0 decision in La Jolla to the Tritons for the 2016 crown. A 1-0 triumph in Texas over top-seeded California Baptist preceded a national semifinal ouster last November. Adam Reeves is the second-year CPP head coach. The Broncos are 5-1 at home this season and host CSUSM on Friday afternoon.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 29-9-2, and has taken four in a row, including three straight dramatic thrillers. Last Sept. 29, it was a Jonathan Sabouri brace for his first two college goals (69:31, 94:09), that rallied the host Tritons to a 2-1 overtime victory. In 2016, UC San Diego first secured an improbable, come-from-behind 2-1 triumph in Pomona in the regular-season finale, scoring twice over the last 4:27 of regulation to steal the CCAA title in a winner-take-all. Those goals came from Justice Duerksen (85:33) and Christian Cordell (88:06). The Tritons then edged the Broncos, 1-0 in overtime, in the West Region final in front of a big crowd (703) in La Jolla, on an own goal at 94:13, as a right-sided Zachary Lagotta cross was knocked into his own net by CPP defender Rubik Zazian. UC San Diego earned a 1-0 decision in La Jolla on Sept. 18, 2015, on a 58th-minute Uly de la Cal goal, after which the Broncos ultimately finished the year as national runners-up (17-3-3). The Tritons fell 2-0 in La Jolla in the lone 2014 meeting. They swept the home-and-home series in 2013, twice winning 1-0 late in the season. UC San Diego swept the two-game set in 2012 as well, with another pair of 1-0 shutouts. The Tritons had actually won five consecutive 1-0 decisions over the Broncos since a 3-0 loss in Pomona on Sept. 18, 2011, with CPP scoreless for just over 533 minutes of play, before two strikes in quick succession in the second half on Sept. 28, 2014. UC San Diego is 9-1 against CPP the last 10 times out. The Tritons are 13-4 against the Broncos under Jon Pascale, including 5-2 in Pomona, with three straight wins there since 2011.
This 2018 season marks the UC San Diego men's soccer program's 30th anniversary of its very first NCAA Division III national championship in 1988, and 25th anniversary of its third and final crown in 1993. The 1988 team will be recognized during UC San Diego Homecoming weekend, Oct. 19-21. All-time leading goal-scorer Greg Schwarz (1983-87) will be inducted into the UC San Diego Athletics Hall of Fame that weekend as well, becoming the fourth member of the men's soccer program to be so honored, after Chris Romey (Class of 2014), Brian Siljander (2015) and legendary former head coach Derek Armstrong (2017).
On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Read the full press release here.
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The Tritons are back at home one final time for the 2018 regular season next week, hosting top rivals Cal State LA and Cal State Dominguez Hills during UC San Diego Homecoming. Kickoff against the eighth-ranked Golden Eagles on Friday, Oct. 19, is set for 4:30 p.m. The Senior Day showdown with the Toros is slated for an 11:30 a.m. start on Sunday, Oct. 21.
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Men's Soccer, follow on Instagram (@ucsdmenssoccer) and Facebook (UCSanDiegoMensSoccer).