WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The ninth-ranked UC San Diego men’s soccer team has been picked by league head coaches to place fifth in the 2014 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) preseason poll, released Wednesday.
The CCAA has trotted out a significant overhaul in men’s and women’s soccer for the 2014 campaign in terms of both the regular season and championship tournament. Each institution will face one another once for 11 league contests, down from 16 a year ago, and the CCAA has also thus done away with its two six-team divisions.
The new format for the CCAA Championship calls for the top six teams in the final regular-season standings to qualify, up from four in prior installments. The top two teams receive direct entry into the semifinals, with the next four finishers squaring off in first-round tilts at campus sites of higher seeds on Sunday, Nov. 2.
The site of the semifinals and final of the 2014 CCAA Championship has yet to be determined. The final will be played on Sunday, Nov. 9.
The Tritons are coming off of an incredible 2013 campaign in which they went 14-3-5 overall and 11-2-3 in CCAA play, advancing to both the CCAA Championship and NCAA West Region finals. They earned 84 points to sit just behind Cal Poly Pomona (89 points) and ahead of Sonoma State (83). Cal State L.A. is the heavy favorite to repeat its 2013 crown, garnering 10 of 12 first-place votes and 120 points. Cal State Dominguez Hills is second in the poll with 94 points, while Chico State (92) is third with the only remaining first-place nod.
Seventh-year head coach Jon Pascale, the 2012 and 2013 CCAA Coach of the Year, will need to replace 10 seniors from the 2013 squad, including seven starters. The Tritons do return senior striker Alessandro Canale and sophomore defender Brett Sampiere, both of whom earned All-CCAA honorable mention a year ago. Brandon Bauman is back to operate the midfield, as is starting defender and fellow senior Matthew McClure. The UCSD defense has ranked in the top five nationally in the NCAA Division II in each of the past two seasons.
Ten CCAA teams kick off their 2014 season on Thursday, Sept. 4, with all 12 sides beginning league activity on Friday, Sept. 26. UCSD gets things going with a home pair against West Region rivals from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference in Saint Martin’s and Western Washington on Sept. 4 and Saturday, Sept. 6, respectively. Kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium for both matches is set for 7 p.m. UCSD will contest six of its seven non-conference dates in La Jolla for starters.
2014 CCAA Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll
Institution (First-Place Votes), Points
1. #14 Cal State L.A. (10), 120
2. Cal State Dominguez Hills, 94
3. Chico State (1), 92
4. Cal Poly Pomona, 89
5. #9 UC San Diego (1), 84
6. Sonoma State, 83
7. Cal State Stanislaus, 54
8. Cal State Monterey Bay, 45
9. Cal State San Bernardino, 42
10. Humboldt State, 39
11. Cal State East Bay, 35
12. SF State, 15