LA JOLLA, Calif. - After starting the season 0-4-2, the UC San Diego men's soccer team is unbeaten in its last eight contests, compiling a 6-0-2 record and outscoring opponents 12-3 over that span after a pair of victories over Chico State and Cal State Stanislaus last weekend.
UCSD will travel this weekend to face Cal Poly Pomona and No. 6 Cal State San Bernardino, the fifth and second-ranked teams in the CCAA South Division, respectively. The Tritons' face-off with the Broncos is slated for Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Coyotes welcome the Tritons on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
With a 2-0 win over Cal State Stanislaus on Sunday, UCSD leap-frogged CSUS into fourth place in total points in the CCAA; if the playoffs were to start today, UCSD would have clinched the final bid into the CCAA postseason. In the CCAA playoff format, the two division winners plus the next two teams with the highest point totals will meet in a four-team single elimination tournament to determine the CCAA champion and automatic entrant into the NCAA Division II Championship.
Currently sitting in third place in the CCAA South Division with 21 points, UCSD trails Cal State Dominguez Hills (26 points, CCAA South), Cal State San Bernardino (25 points, CCAA South) and Chico State (24 points, CCAA North) while contenders Cal State Stanislaus (20 points, CCAA North) and Sonoma State (19 points, CCAA North) trail close behind. Each team has four conference matches remaining.
On Friday, defender Jared Kukura pounded home his second goal of the match in the 99th minute to give UCSD a 3-2 overtime victory over CCAA North Division leader, Chico State. Kukura also scored the match's first goal, but a pair of goals by CSUC's Ferid Celosmanovic, including the go-ahead goal with less than three minutes to play, had things looking dire for UCSD.
UCSD refused to be denied, when, just over a minute later, midfielder Cory Wolfrom's cross found the head of David Bakal, who leapt above a crowded box to head home the game-tying goal and send it to overtime. Bakal's clutch goal saved not only the match for the Tritons, but perhaps the season as well.
A pair of early goals helped UCSD to secure a 2-0 victory over Cal State Stanislaus on Sunday. In the 12th minute, Bakal played a pass directly up the center of the field from his center back position to Shane Micheil, who posted up his defender at the top of the arc. Micheil turned to his right, beating his defender and cracking a shot off the near post and in for a 1-0 lead. Adam Zernik would score the second goal of the match, striking a shot past the CSUS goalkeeper from 25 yards out.
Cal Poly Pomona is 2-2 in its last four contests, but dropped both of its matches in shutout fashion this weekend against Cal State San Bernardino. Luis Gonzalez is the point-man for the Bronco attack and has logged seven goals, six assists, and 42 shots in 12 matches played. Gonzalez ranks fourth in the CCAA in goals, third in points, and seventh in total shots.
UCSD is 20-6-2 all-time against CPP. On Oct. 3, the Tritons secured a 2-0 win over the Broncos at Triton Soccer Field. CPP is 7-6-1 overall and 5-6-1 in conference play this season.
Cal State San Bernardino comes into Sunday's contest with a three-match winning streak, a span in which CSUSB has outscored their opponents, 6-1. Obi Agwu, who is tied with Celosmanovic for most goals in the CCAA with 11 goals, scored the game-winner in Oct. 15's overtime win against Cal Poly Pomona. Agwu leads the CCAA with five game-winners on the year.
CSUSB faces Cal State East Bay on Friday before its contest with UCSD on Sunday. A CSUSB tie or loss against CSUEB coupled with a UCSD win over CPP, would give UCSD the opportunity to overtake CSUSB for second place in the CCAA South with a win on Sunday.
The Coyotes go into the weekend at 10-3-1 overall and 8-3-1 in the CCAA. UCSD is 14-15-5 all-time against CSUSB. On Oct. 1, the teams battled to a 1-1 tie at Triton Soccer Field.
UCSD will end the regular season in a home-away series with Cal State East Bay on Halloween weekend, Oct. 29 and 31.