UC SAN DIEGO EMBARKS ON CHALLENGING CCAA TITLE DEFENSE AT HOME
The University of California San Diego men's soccer program kicks off its 12-game California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) schedule at home inside the friendly confines of Triton Soccer Stadium this week. The Tritons (2-0-2), one of three unbeatens left in the CCAA, host rival Chico State (2-2) on Friday, Sept. 15, at 4:30 p.m., and then Stanislaus State (2-1-1) on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 11:30 a.m. Both games serve as openers of doubleheaders with the No. 19 UCSD women. Admission on North Campus in La Jolla is free.
UC San Diego is 9-6-2 in CCAA openers after a 1-0 loss at Cal State San Marcos last Sept. 21, which snapped a string of two straight 1-0 wins, including a 2015 home triumph over eventual national runner-up Cal Poly Pomona.
TRITON SOCCER MATCHDAY
Once again in 2017, 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, behind the spectator stand, as well as the Hopkins Parking Structure adjacent to RIMAC. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday.
TRITON SOCCER ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
Select home games in 2017 will feature a live video stream on UCSDtritons.tv, including this Friday's CCAA opener against Chico State, free of charge with no commentary. Broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Events are archived. All games have live stats. Some road matches will also have video. 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.
Free posters of the 2017 UCSD fall sports will be available at Triton Soccer Stadium this Friday night and Sunday.
UC San Diego opened 2017 exactly where it ended 2016 in terms of national ranking, appearing in the No. 4 spot in the newly-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. After drawing at Biola in their opener, the Tritons fell out of the national rankings, and as of Sept. 12, do not appear in the United Soccer Coaches' West Region top 10.
UCSD FAVORED TO REPEAT AS CCAA CHAMPION
UCSD is the favorite to repeat as the CCAA champion, as voted on by league head coaches in the 2017 preseason poll. The Tritons accumulated 130 points and eight of the 13 first-place votes to sit atop the poll after being picked fifth a year ago and loudly defying that prognostication. Cal State LA and 2016 CCAA Tournament finalist Sonoma State shared the second spot, each with 118 points and one first-place nod. Cal Poly Pomona was fourth with 116 points and the remaining three first-place votes. UCSD shocked the Broncos 2-1 in Pomona on the final day to steal the CCAA regular-season title, and also turned the 2015 West Region champions and national runners-up away in the West final in front of the home crowd, 1-0 in overtime. Cal State Dominguez Hills, the 2015 CCAA regular-season victor, was fifth (105), followed by Chico State (96).
UCSD is 12-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era, including the scoreless draw at Biola on Aug. 31. The Tritons overturned an early second-half deficit and got a thrilling winner from Nick Palano with just 101 ticks left in the second overtime to knock off Azusa Pacific at home a year ago. Twin brother Sam Palano assisted on that winner after equalizing in the 68th minute. They had won two straight lid-lifters, 2-1 in overtime at California Baptist in 2013, and by that same score in La Jolla against Saint Martin's in 2014, ahead of a 1-1 draw at SMU in 2015. They are thus an unbeaten 3-0-2 in their last five.
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UCSD pulled out a thrilling 2-1 road triumph at West Region rival Azusa Pacific last Thursday night thanks to senior striker Uly de la Cal's close-range rebound effort at 96:45 of the first sudden-victory overtime period after Kiefer Cooksey's left-footed saved shot from outside the penalty area. Steven Ortiz had opened the scoring in the seventh minute, assisted by de la Cal and Jeff Powers, but the Tritons finally gave up their first goal of 2017 early in the second half after 248:31 of shutout soccer. Back in La Jolla on Saturday night against Concordia Irvine, UCSD rescued a 2-2 draw to extend its home unbeaten streak to 18 games, with two tallies in 30 seconds over the final three minutes of regulation. Nolan Mac headed in de la Cal's long throw-in for his team-leading second goal at 87:06, and sophomore Jonathan Stoop converted from the penalty spot at 87:36.
2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year in his 10th year in charge, has 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 winger, left back, holding central midfielder and right back, respectively. Fifth-year Triton Bashti had three goals and seven assists.
UC San Diego is 1-0-1 to start its eight-game home slate for 2017 after finishing an unbeaten 12-0-1 there in 2016 and 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015. The Tritons are 59-20-16 (.705) in La Jolla under Jon Pascale. They are 15-0-3 in their last 18 at Triton Soccer Stadium, since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015. UCSD has thus not lost at home in almost two full calendar years.
IF YOU CAN'T WIN IT, DON'T LOSE IT
Three of UCSD's four games thus far in 2017 have gone into overtime, with a dramatic road win at APU and a pair of double-overtime draws. Following last Saturday's come-from-behind 2-2 tie against Concordia Irvine, UCSD is an unbeaten 6-0-16 in overtime contests since its last such loss in 2014.
RETURN TO PREMIER DEFENSE
UCSD has given up three goals in 2017 after 248:31 of shutout soccer to begin the season. The Tritons allowed just 13 goals over 24 matches a year ago for a goals-against average of 0.52, which ranked fourth in all of the NCAA Division II. Eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. They were 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. UCSD 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). It 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).
UC San Diego had a CCAA-best 39 goals over 24 games in 2016, after managing just 15 in 18 matches in 2015. It marked a record for the program's Division II era, since 2000. Junior winger Christian Cordell is the leading returning goal-scorer, with five a year ago, all off the bench. Senior forward Uly de la Cal is the top point-getter back, having accumulated 16 from four tallies and a team-best eight assists. Strike partner Malek Bashti provided three goals and seven assists.
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 turned the trick 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 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. Start times are to be determined. 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.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
Conference action begins this Friday, Sept. 15. For the fourth year in a row, the CCAA slate will consist 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.
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. 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 in La Jolla 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 95-49-35 (.628) overall record in his 10th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 65-39-24 (.602) 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 WILDCATS
Chico State (2-2) was picked to place sixth in the CCAA table. The Wildcats made considerable noise with a season-opening road sweep of Seattle Pacific, 2-1, and Western Washington, 3-2 in double overtime. They were then swept at home last weekend, however, 2-1 by Point Loma and 4-1 by California Baptist. Chico State is led by three-goal-scorer Jeremiah Egujie, a touted junior transfer from Arizona Western College. The native of Nigeria tallied the winner at SPU with 2:13 left in regulation to complete his brace, and then the decider at Western Washington with just 12 seconds left in the second overtime. Felipe Restrepo is in his 10th season in charge.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 12-6-4, including a 2-0 home triumph last Sept. 25 through a Sam Palano brace. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in Chico in 2015, a result that proved critical to the Tritons earning a third successive CCAA Tournament berth, at the expense of the Wildcats. Riley Harbour and Omar Nuño traded goals in that one. UCSD posted a 1-0 win in Chico on Oct. 5, 2014, through an unassisted Brandon Bauman strike at 84:52. The rivals split their two regular-season meetings in 2013, with each winning 1-0 on the road. Chico State's victory came in overtime to snap a seven-match win streak for the Tritons, ranked sixth at the time. UCSD had earlier won in the 14th-ranked Wildcats' home opener on Taylor Wirth's first collegiate goal in the 28th minute. The sides then faced off twice in the postseason. In the semifinals of the CCAA Tournament in Turlock, Malek Bashti's first career goal in overtime was the difference as UCSD rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to take it, 2-1. Finally in the second round of the NCAA Championship, in front of 985 fans in La Jolla, the teams played to a 1-1 draw before UCSD advanced via penalty-kick tiebreaker.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS
Stanislaus State (2-1-1), picked for ninth in the CCAA poll, won both of its games in Hawaii last week, 2-1 over Hawai'i Pacific and 1-0 against Chaminade. The Warriors have yet to play at home in 2017, beginning with a seven-game road stretch. They opened with a 3-2 loss at Fresno Pacific and a 1-1 draw at Notre Dame de Namur. Stan State plays at Cal State San Marcos on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m., before heading further south into La Jolla for Sunday's tilt. Dana Taylor is in his ninth season in charge.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 14-5-4, with a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime victory in Turlock last Oct. 21 on goals by Christian Cordell (65:39) and Kuba Waligorski (93:12). On Sept. 27, 2015, Stan State handed the Tritons a rare home loss, 2-1, scoring twice in a span of 1:51 late to overturn a 1-0 halftime deficit. In 2014, the Warriors knocked UCSD out of the CCAA Tournament in the first round, outlasting the Tritons in a penalty-kick tiebreaker, 5-4, after a scoreless deadlock through 110 minutes of play in La Jolla. The teams drew 1-1 in the 2014 regular-season matchup, also in La Jolla. In 2013, the Tritons achieved their first road win over the Warriors in Turlock, 2-0, in their fourth try there of the Jon Pascale era after a trio of one-goal defeats. The 2012 meeting in La Jolla saw Elan Gefen turn in the rebound from a Kian Malek shot that was saved, for the lone score of the night in the 55th minute.
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The Tritons hit the CCAA road for the first time next week, at always-tough Los Angeles opponents Cal State Dominguez Hills on Friday, Sept. 22, and Cal State LA on Sunday, Sept. 24.