Tritons Open NCAA Championship Against Golden Eagles in Azusa Thursday Night
TRITONS EMBARK ON RETURN TRIP TO NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP IN AZUSA
The UC San Diego men's soccer team on Monday evening gained selection to the NCAA Championship for the second successive season under head coach Jon Pascale. The Tritons will take on 14th-ranked California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) rival Cal State L.A. (13-3-1) on Thursday night, Nov. 13, in the first round in Azusa. Kickoff at the Cougar Soccer Complex on the campus of Azusa Pacific University is set for primetime at 7 p.m. The Tritons are the No. 6 seed, with the Golden Eagles seeded third. UCSD earned a return trip to the NCAA Championship despite losing 10 seniors to graduation a year ago and five players to season-ending injuries over the course of this 2014 campaign. Picked by league head coaches to finish fifth in the CCAA, the Tritons placed third. CSULA was second. UCSD is 3-1-3 outside of La Jolla.
Thursday's winner will advance to the NCAA second round to play second-seeded and 20th-ranked host APU on Saturday night, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m., also at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
Tickets for this week's games at APU's Cougar Soccer Complex will be $10 for adults, $5 for students with valid identification and seniors (55 or older), and $1 for youth (12 or younger). Children under the age of 2 are admitted free. There is no charge for parking around the soccer complex.
Both matches this week will have live streaming video with audio (click here), and live stats, all for free. Fans can also get updates by following the official UCSD Athletics Twitter account @UCSDtritons.
Both of this week’s opponents were on UCSD’s regular-season schedule in back-to-back matches. The Tritons first dropped a narrow 1-0 decision in double overtime to Azusa Pacific at home on Sept. 20, on Keenan Armbrust's right-footed strike at 101:43. They then topped Cal State L.A. in Los Angeles in both sides’ CCAA opener on Sept. 26. The lone goal in that one came from the penalty spot in the 75th minute by senior captain Brandon Bauman.
JON PASCALE'S VIEW
“We’re obviously very excited to be selected to the NCAA tournament again this year. Although we weren’t sure of our fate before the selection show, we felt confident that we were one of the top six teams in the region. We know we’re capable of competing with anyone, and are looking forward to doing our best and making a run at this thing.”
DEFENSIVE SHOWDOWN ON TAP
Thursday night's game will feature two of the top defensive squads nationally. Cal State L.A. paces Division II with a 0.40 team goals-against average defensively through games played on Nov. 9. UCSD is currently 11th in that category at 0.64.
NCAA DIVISION II CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
UCSD will be making its third appearance at the NCAA Division II Championship when it takes the field this Thursday night against Cal State L.A. The Tritons are 0-1-2 in their two prior trips. They played to two 1-1 ties a year ago, advancing past Chico State on penalty kicks in the second round at home after a first-round bye, before getting knocked out in the same fashion by Simon Fraser in Denver, Colo., in the third round. UCSD was eliminated by Chico State in its Division II championship debut, 2-0, on Nov. 14, 2003, allowing two late goals in the Far West Regional semifinal at Toro Field in Carson. Before that, UCSD went 26-10-4 (.700) in 15 NCAA Division III Championship appearances between 1983-99. That history includes three national titles in 1988, 1991 and 1993.
NCAA Division II Championship
2013 - Regis University Match Pitch, Denver, Colo.
Third Round - UC San Diego 1, Simon Fraser 1 (2OT) (SFU advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3)
2013 - Triton Soccer Stadium, La Jolla
Second Round - UC San Diego 1, Chico State 1 (2OT) (UCSD advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4)
2003 - Toro Field, Carson
Far West Regional Semifinal - Chico State 2, UC San Diego 0
Four Tritons earned recognition from the CCAA when the league's postseason awards were announced last Thursday, Nov. 6. Brandon Bauman made the 11-player All-CCAA First Team, with newcomers Sean Pleskow and Kuba Waligorski both gaining spots on the All-CCAA Second Team. Cameron McElfresh garnered All-CCAA honorable mention. All four were first-time conference honorees. Previously, McElfresh, Sam Palano and Nick Roberts were all chosen to the Capital One Academic All-District 8 First Team for Division II men's soccer, and thus advanced to the prestigious Academic All-America ballot.
UCSD began the 2014 campaign exactly where it left off in 2013 in terms of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. The association released its preseason listing back on Aug. 7. UCSD fell out of the top 25 when the first in-season edition was revealed on Sept. 9. The Tritons moved up from No. 7 to the all-important sixth slot in the fourth and final installment of the official NCAA regional rankings on Monday, grabbing the last of the West's six berths into the 35-team NCAA Championship field. They are also sixth in the latest NSCAA West Region poll. Cal State L.A. is second and Azusa Pacific third. UCSD got as far up as No. 6 during an exceptional 2013 run, their highest position in the national poll of the Division II era.
UCSD and Cal State L.A. each ironically are coming off of scoreless draws with Cal State Stanislaus. UCSD was eliminated by the Warriors, 5-4, after a penalty-kick tiebreaker at home in the first round of the CCAA Championship on Nov. 2, and was left to await its NCAA tourney fate. Stanislaus went on to also get past CSULA, 4-2 on penalty kicks, in the CCAA semifinals in Turlock last Friday, Nov. 7.
UCSD is 11th in the NCAA Division II in team goals-against average through games played on Nov. 9, now with a 0.64 mark. The Tritons were up as high as seventh through Oct. 12. UCSD has boasted one of the top five defenses nationally in Division II in terms of GAA in each of the last two seasons. The Tritons led the country in the category in 2012 with a CCAA-record mark of 0.44, and finished fourth in 2013 at a 0.52 clip. UCSD had not allowed more than a single goal over 34 straight games going back to a 3-0 loss at Cal State Dominguez Hills on Oct. 14, 2012, prior to a 2-0 home loss to Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 28. Still, the Tritons have posted 31 shutouts over their last 57 matches. They have nine shutouts in 2014.
LATE-GAME HEROICS FOR BAUMAN
UCSD's first two road games in the CCAA this season resulted in 1-0 victories over big rivals, with the lone goal coming both times from senior playmaker Brandon Bauman. The Huntington Beach product converted his penalty kick in the 75th minute of the Sept. 26 win at Cal State L.A., and on Oct. 5, struck in the 85th minute to down archrival Chico State. Bauman assisted on all three UCSD goals in a pair of ties at Sonoma State and Humboldt State during the last weekend in October. He then also scored a free-kick insurance goal in a 2-0 home win over Cal State Dominguez Hills on Senior Night on Oct. 30. Bauman leads the team with five goals, nine assists and 19 total points, and is third in the CCAA in assists and tied for third in points.
SCORE TWO, GET THE WIN
UCSD is an undefeated 8-0-1 in 2014 when scoring at least two goals. The Tritons are 2-4-4 when tallying less than two goals. Prior to a 2-2 draw at Humboldt State on Oct. 26, UCSD had won 22 straight contests when finding the back of the net two or more times going back to late in the 2011 campaign. The team's last such loss was a 3-2 home decision to Cal State Dominguez Hills on Oct. 16, 2011. The Tritons have a pair of 4-0 triumphs and a 3-0 victory in 2014, all at home.
After 11 wins by the final score of 1-0 over 2012 and 2013, UCSD has two in 2014 ... The Tritons' 4-0 victory over Cal State San Marcos on Sept. 14 was their most lopsided defeat and the most goals they have scored in a single game since a 5-0 triumph in the 2012 finale at Cal State Monterey Bay ... They since added a second 4-0 home win, over Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 3, with three goals coming on free-kick organizations, and three via headers ... Junior goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh has posted nine shutouts this season to give him 12 clean sheets for his career ... McElfresh is ranked third in the CCAA and 13th nationally in goals-against average through Nov. 9, at 0.642 ... The four returning Triton starters from a year ago are midfielder Brandon Bauman, forward Alessandro Canale, and defenders Matthew McClure and Brett Sampiere (Solana Beach/Torrey Pines HS) ... Canale and Sampiere earned All-CCAA honorable mention a year ago ... Among 27 players on the 2014 roster are 15 returners and 12 newcomers ... Joining Bauman, Canale and McClure in the senior class are A.J. Beloff, Jacob Valadez and Nick Roberts ... Besides Sampiere, the only other San Diego products are freshman winger Zachary Lagotta (Cathedral Catholic HS) and junior goalkeeper Dean Meltz (Torrey Pines HS).
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, a two-time CCAA Coach of the Year through back-to-back honors in 2012 and 2013, has posted a 68-40-24 (.606) overall record in his seventh season in charge of the UCSD men's soccer program. He is 51-34-19 (.582) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. A 1-0 home victory over Sonoma State on Sept. 29, 2013, gave him career win No. 50, while a 2-0 triumph at Cal State Stanislaus in the very next match on Oct. 4 marked his 100th contest at the Triton helm. Pascale directed his first postseason tilt on Nov. 8 of last year in Turlock, a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime win over rival Chico State in a CCAA Championship semifinal. He made his NCAA Championship debut as a head coach on Nov. 16, 2013, in La Jolla. The 2-0 home decision over Cal State East Bay on Oct. 12 meant CCAA win No. 50 for Pascale, who coached his 100th CCAA tilt at Cal State Monterey Bay on Oct. 17. He has now guided the Tritons to a second NCAA tournament appearance in succession.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN EAGLES
Cal State L.A. (13-3-1) moved up from No. 16 to No. 14 in the latest NSCAA national rankings on Tuesday morning. The Golden Eagles are making a seventh NCAA appearance over the past nine years, including a fourth in a row. They are 9-1-1 over their last 11 contests, and have allowed a total of seven goals in their 17 games. Cal State L.A., which topped the CCAA South Division in each of the last three seasons before the league did away with its divisional alignment for the 2014 campaign, is led by 12th-year head coach Chris Chamides. The Golden Eagles, 4-1-1 away from home this season, were CCAA champions in 2011 and 2013.
Cal State L.A. leads the all-time series, 13-12-3. UCSD took the most recent meeting, 1-0, in the 2014 CCAA opener for both sides back on Sept. 26 in Los Angeles. Brandon Bauman notched the lone goal from the penalty spot in the 75th minute. The teams faced off three times in 2013, with a pair of 1-0 wins going in favor of the Golden Eagles around a 1-1 draw in the regular-season finale in La Jolla. CSULA had won three straight against UCSD in Los Angeles, all by the identical scoreline of 1-0, prior to this year's match-up. The Tritons had not upended CSULA anywhere over their previous seven meetings (0-6-1) since a 1-0 triumph in Los Angeles on Oct. 10, 2010. Of those six losses, five were by the final score of 1-0.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Azusa Pacific (14-2) moved up from No. 23 to No. 20 in the latest NSCAA national rankings on Tuesday morning. APU won the Pacific West Conference with an 11-1 mark in league contests. The Cougars are in their very first year of full NCAA Division II membership, having previously competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). APU has won 10 straight since a 1-0 loss at Hawai'i Pacific on Oct. 4. The last three of those victories have come in shutout fashion at home, outscoring opponents, 11-0, with the Cougars having not conceded in 292:14. Azusa Pacific is a perfect 9-0 at home on the year. David Blomquist is in his sixth season in charge at APU.
APU leads the all-time series, 11-10-1, having won 1-0 in La Jolla earlier this season on Sept. 20. The programs previously had not met since 2003, when the Tritons came away with a 3-0 triumph in their season opener on Sept. 3 in Azusa. They last played in La Jolla on Sept. 16, 1998, that a 5-1 APU victory.
OTHER SIDE OF WEST BRACKET
Azusa constitutes one half of the six-team, double-site West portion of the Super Region 4. Fourth-ranked Seattle Pacific (15-1-2), the Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion, is the top seed, and will host the other side of the bracket at Interbay Stadium in Seattle, Wash. Fourth-seeded Northwest Nazarene (14-3-1) takes on the fifth seed, Simon Fraser (11-4-2), on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., with the winner getting the SPU Falcons on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
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Should UCSD advance through this weekend and into the third round of the NCAA Championship, it will almost definitely be on the road again the following week. In the NCAA's yearly rotation, the highest remaining seed in the West after the first two rounds, is designated to host the two participants left from the South Central Region. At No. 6, the Tritons could not possibly be the highest remaining seed in the West, and could only host if the representative left on the other side of the bracket, failed to put in a bid to host.