ALTERED SCHEDULE SENDS TRITONS NORTH FOR SINGLE CONTEST
The University of California San Diego men's soccer program traveled north to Arcata on Wednesday for a single California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) match this week. The now-third-place Tritons (7-1-4, 5-1-2 CCAA) face eighth-place Humboldt State (6-5, 3-4 CCAA) at College Creek Field on Friday afternoon, Oct. 13, at 3 p.m. UCSD was supposed to then play at Sonoma State on Sunday, but that match was postponed on Tuesday evening due to the continuing wildfires in Sonoma County. The eighth-ranked and first-place Triton women will lead off Friday's doubleheader in Arcata at 12:30 p.m.
UCSD had moved into sole possession of first place in the CCAA table after its 1-1 draw with SF State last Friday, Oct. 6, but dramatic home wins by Cal Poly Pomona on Sunday and Cal State Dominguez Hills on Wednesday night have dropped the Tritons into third.
Friday's match at Humboldt State will feature a live video stream and live stats, both free of charge, here. 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 UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UCSD collected four points from its final home contests of the regular season, blanking city rival Cal State San Marcos, 1-0, last Wednesday, before settling for a 1-1 draw with SF State on Senior Night on Friday. Freshman Jonathan Sabouri grabbed the 61st-minute winner, right-footed from outside of the penalty area, against CSUSM. Senior strike partner Malek Bashti tapped in Sabouri's cross from close range to give the Tritons a 1-0 lead in the 80th two days later, but the Gators found the equalizer in the 85th from a corner-kick header. Pedro Enciso made six saves over the 200 total minutes for the week and posted his sixth individual shutout.
UC San Diego opened 2017 exactly where it ended 2016 in terms of national ranking, appearing in the No. 4 spot in the rebranded United Soccer Coaches (formerly National Soccer Coaches Association of America) preseason poll. It matched the program's highest position of its NCAA Division II era, since 2000, incidentally from the final 2016 poll. After drawing at Biola in their opener, the Tritons fell out of the national rankings. As of Oct. 10, they are fifth in the United Soccer Coaches' West Region listing.
100 WINS FOR PASCALE
The 1-0 home victory over city rival Cal State San Marcos on Wednesday night, Oct. 4, meant career win No. 100 for 10th-year head coach Jon Pascale. The three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year heads into the week with records of 100-50-37 overall and 70-40-26 in CCAA play.
UC San Diego had its 18-match home unbeaten streak that stretched out over nearly two full calendar years, ended by Chico State, 2-0, on Friday, Sept. 15. The Tritons are still 5-1-2 at home this season, after finishing an unbeaten 12-0-1 there in 2016 and 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015. They are 63-21-17 (.708) in La Jolla under Jon Pascale. UCSD is 19-1-4 (.875) in its last 24 at Triton Soccer Stadium, since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015.
Senior defender Nolan Mac did not find the back of the net over 35 career appearances his first three seasons in a UCSD uniform. In his final collegiate campaign, and still from his position at left back, he shares the team lead with fellow senior Uly de la Cal and true freshman Jonathan Sabouri at three goals apiece, over 11 games, with all three of them coming in the 80th minute or later. The latest was the equalizer at 79:38 at No. 19 Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 22. The Tritons went on to win it, 2-1.
Six of UCSD's 12 games thus far in 2017 have gone into overtime, with a dramatic road win at APU and a quartet of double-overtime draws around a thrilling home win over Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. UCSD is an unbeaten 7-0-18 in overtime contests since its last such loss in 2014.
UCSD has given up eight goals in 2017 after 248:31 of shutout soccer to begin the season. The Tritons are thus second in the CCAA, third in the West Region and up to 14th nationally with a 0.615 team goals-against average. They allowed just 13 goals over 24 matches a year ago for a 0.52 GAA, which ranked fourth in all of the NCAA Division II. Eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. UCSD was second in save percentage (.857) and fifth in shutout percentage (0.58), with a Division II-era program-record 14 clean sheets. The team's longest shutout stretch last year was 513:54 through four-plus shutouts, with two more of 356:51 and 353:12. The Tritons boasted one of the top seven defenses nationally in Division II in terms of team GAA for three straight seasons between 2012-14, but fell back to the 48th spot in 2015 (1.09). They led the country in that category in 2012 with a then-CCAA-record mark of 0.44, before finishing fourth in 2013 (0.52) and seventh in 2014 (0.65).
UCSD is the favorite to repeat as the CCAA champion, as voted on by league head coaches in the 2017 preseason poll, having accumulated 130 points and eight of the 13 first-place votes after being picked fifth a year ago and loudly defying that prognostication ... UCSD is 12-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000), including the scoreless draw at Biola on Aug. 31, and is thus an unbeaten 3-0-2 in the last five years ... UCSD is 9-7-2 in CCAA openers with back-to-back shutout losses at home to Chico State (2-0) this year and at Cal State San Marcos (1-0) last season ... UCSD had a CCAA-best 39 goals over 24 games in 2016 after managing 15 in 18 matches in 2015, marking a program record for the Division II era ... The Tritons struck for four goals in a span of 16:30 of the first half and ultimately cruised to a 4-0 defeat of visiting Stanislaus State on Sept 17 ... For the fifth straight year and sixth in the last seven, UCSD recently earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award with a 3.29 combined GPA for 2016-17.
STAT OF THE YEAR
If there was one telling statistic from the 2016 campaign, it was that on seven occasions, the Tritons surrendered a game's first score before rallying for a 2-1 victory via late goals. It happened in each of their first two games at home to begin the year, and turned into an exhilirating trend. UCSD achieved that score line three times in La Jolla and four times away from home, those four all in succession before a final instance in the national quarterfinal at Triton Soccer Stadium on Nov. 20. So far in 2017, the Tritons have done it two more times, both against traditional rivals who were nationally-ranked at the time, at No. 19 Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sept. 22 with two goals over the final 10:22 of regulation, and then at home in overtime against No. 17 Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. UCSD also fell behind 2-0 at home to Concordia on Sept. 9 before storming back for a 2-2 draw.
Among 27 players on the 2017 roster are 18 returners and nine newcomers, five of them true freshmen ... The eight seniors are Malek Bashti, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta, Nolan Mac, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban and Eric Young ... There are six local products in Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), junior forward Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy), and freshmen 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) ... True freshman Darragh Buckley is the younger brother of former Triton Padraig Buckley (2010-13).
CCAA TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO LA JOLLA
UC San Diego is the proud host of the 2017 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals, for the first time since 2008 and fourth in all. Two women's and two men's semifinals will be contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 3, with the two finals set for Sunday, Nov. 5. First-round matchups will take place on the campuses of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on Tuesday, Oct. 31. In all three previous instances that UCSD has served as host, in 2001, 2006 and 2008, the Triton men have been unable to qualify. Significantly for the first time this year, the men's champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
For the fourth 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 2017 CCAA Tournament. Cal State San Marcos, a new addition in 2015, is eligible for the first time.
2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year in his 10th year in charge, has had to replace eight valuable seniors, but still has a bevy of veterans to rely on in 2017. Included in that group are Malek Bashti, Christian Cordell, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), Nolan Mac, Matt Merrill, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban, Jeff Powers and Eric Young, all seniors academically or athletically. Bashti and Mac picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions a season ago, and Lagotta in 2015, with de la Cal the top returning point-getter with 16 from four goals and a team-best eight assists in 2016. Bashti, Lagotta, Mac, Merrill and Powers were regular starters, at forward, right wing, left back, holding central midfield and right back, respectively. Fifth-year Triton Bashti had three goals and seven assists. Cordell is the leading returning goal-scorer, with five off the bench as a sophomore.
UC San Diego is coming off of the most successful season of its Division II era, as the treble winner of the CCAA regular-season, CCAA tournament and West Region championships, all for the first time. UCSD shocked Cal Poly Pomona on the road, 2-1, on the final day to steal the CCAA regular-season title, and later also turned the 2015 West Region champions and national runners-up away in the West final in La Jolla, 1-0 in overtime. The Tritons advanced to the national semifinals in Kansas City, Mo., fell to the eventual champions and finished 19-3-2 overall and 9-2-1 in league play. They have now made four successive postseason appearances in the form of the CCAA Tournament, with NCAA Championship berths in 2013, 2014 and 2016. UCSD went an unbeaten 12-0-1 at home in 2016.
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, now a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year through back-to-back honors in 2012 and 2013 and another last season, has posted a 100-50-37 (.634) overall record in his 10th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 70-40-26 (.610) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. Last season, Pascale guided the Tritons to the very first CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and Division II West Region titles in the program's 17 years as a league and Division II member. It was UCSD's seventh straight campaign with an overall record of .500 or better, with seven winning seasons out of Pascale's nine. The Tritons have earned four successive berths in the CCAA Tournament, with trips to the NCAA Championship in 2013, 2014 and 2016. 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.
ABOUT THE LUMBERJACKS
Humboldt State (6-5, 3-4 CCAA) was picked 12th in the CCAA preseason poll. The Lumberjacks have dropped four straight, getting outscored 10-3, since winning their first three CCAA matches. They are 1-2 at home. Most recently, Humboldt State fell 3-0 to league leader Cal Poly Pomona and 3-1 to Cal State San Bernardino in Southern California. Fred Jungemann is in his fifth season in charge of the Jacks after spending the previous six years at Barry University in Florida.
UCSD has never lost to Humboldt State, leading the all-time series, 5-0-6, including a 1-0 home triumph a season ago on an overtime tally at 97:12 by Riley Harbour. That result followed dramatic 2-2 draws in Arcata in back-to-back years. In 2014, Kuba Waligorski and Uly de la Cal each notched equalizers over the final nine minutes of regulation, de la Cal's first collegiate goal coming with just 37 ticks left on the clock. Both scores were assisted by Harbour and Brandon Bauman. The Tritons won 2-0 in La Jolla in 2013. The teams did not meet in 2012. Previously, the Tritons edged the Jacks at home in 2011, 3-2, overturning a 2-1 halftime deficit. The prior matchup in Arcata ended in a 1-1 tie in 2010. UCSD is 4-0-1 against HSU in La Jolla and 0-0-3 in Arcata under Jon Pascale.
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The Tritons dip out of league activity one final time for 2017 with another one-match week, making the short trip north to San Marcos for a non-conference affair with CCAA rival Cal State San Marcos. That match at The Cage is set for a 3 p.m. start on Friday, Oct. 20.