SEASIDE, Calif. - The UC San Diego men's soccer team wrapped up the 2012 campaign with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Cal State Monterey Bay at Otter Sports Complex on Sunday.
Scott MacBride, the senior-most member of this season's squad as a fifth-year Triton, turned in a late hat trick to account for the final margin after UCSD had gotten what proved to be a first-half winner from Will Pleskow and some insurance from senior Kian Malek early in the second period.
UCSD concluded the season at 9-4-4 overall and 8-3-4 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). The Tritons, third in the CCAA South Division, ended with a win for the third successive season under fifth-year head coach Jon Pascale, and thus finished with a winning record for a third straight campaign.
"It was a good season, and we really could still be playing," summed up Pascale. "I thought we were one of the best teams we had seen all year. The defense was outstanding all year. We had two more shutouts this weekend. It was a great way to end a good season. This group of seniors ended on a really good note. They provided a good sign of the development that has occurred over the last few years."
The Tritons kept a 12th shutout over their 17 matches in 2012. They led the entire NCAA Division II with a 0.71 shutout percentage. UCSD allowed just eight goals on the year for a 0.44 goals-against average as a team. That mark is a new CCAA record, shattering the 0.63 standard of Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2007. The 0.44 number still falls narrowly short, however, of the school mark of 0.42 in the 1990 season from Division III days.
"I think it's great," said Pascale of the record. "I'm happy to set the conference record in goals-against average. This was a really solid defensive team. It wasn't just great goalkeeping, or a good back line. It was the whole team, front to back, just a really good defensive unit. I think it showed off the caliber of players that we have, and the work ethic that they brought into each day and each game."
Individually, junior goalkeeper Josh Cohen had to make just one save over the first 69:19, before giving way to freshman Cameron McElfresh, who also made a single stop, for the remainder. Cohen thus lowered his goals-against average to 0.40. He had entered the weekend second nationally in goals-against average. Cohen, McElfresh and the Tritons in fact ended the season on a shutout streak of four-plus games and 409:16 of soccer in all. They previously had a season-best stretch of five-plus matches and 503:37 without allowing a score from Sept. 16-Oct. 12.
Sunday's five-goal offensive explosion marked the first time in 2012 that the Tritons tallied more than two scores in a single contest, and was their highest goal total since a 6-0 outburst at home against Cal State East Bay to complete the 2010 season on Oct. 31. The five-goal margin was also their biggest since that same East Bay meeting.
The hat trick by MacBride was the first by a Triton in over eight years, since Matthew Davey scored the first three goals, all in the first half, of a 6-1 UCSD victory at Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 25, 2004. The Atascadero native had begun the day with just two career goals, including the game-winner at Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 21.
"Scottie Mac has been with us all five years, and I could not have been happier to see him go out on such a great note," concluded Pascale. "He was consistently the hardest-working guy, day in and day out. It was a well-deserved three goals."
Pleskow, a transfer from Washington, opened the scoring in the 30th minute off a lengthy cross from junior midfielder Cory Wolfrom. It was Pleskow's second of the year and Wolfrom's first point of 2012 after leading the team with 18 points from five goals and eight assists during a second-team All-CCAA season in 2011.
Malek upped the advantage at 54:18 as he completed a give-and-go with senior midfield partner Adam Zernik with a header off the post and in. It was a first goal for Malek in his final year, and Zernik's second assist.
MacBride's string began at 70:23, and just 17:53 later, he had his hat trick. Evan Walker, like MacBride a senior forward, assisted on two of the scores around a penalty kick in the 86th minute. MacBride turned in a rebound from Walker at 88:16 to cap the scoring. With the pair of helpers, Walker moved his season total to a team-best three assists. MacBride and Walker were one-two on the final UCSD points chart with eight and seven, respectively.
Cal State Monterey Bay went into the offseason at 3-12 overall and 3-11 in league play. The Tritons remain an unbeaten 4-0-2 in their last six meetings with the Otters.
Freshman Evan Drake had two stops for the host Otters, who were outshot, 16-8.
The game marked the final collegiate appearances of MacBride, Malek, Walker, Zernik, Andisheh Bagheri, Andrew Keimach, Ian MacAuley and Adam Portela. Harris Rabin was a ninth member of the 2012 class who sat out the year through injury.
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