FIRST-PLACE UCSD BEGINS SIX-MATCH HOMESTAND FRIDAY
A winner of six straight for the first time in 17 years, all in shutout fashion, UCSD is back at home having completed a tough season-opening stretch of seven of 10 matches on the road. The sixth-ranked and first-place Tritons, at 8-1-1 overall and 6-1-1 in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), now have the luxury of contesting seven of their final eight regular-season games in La Jolla. This weekend, they take on Cal State San Bernardino, last in the CCAA South Division, on Friday night, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m., followed by Chico State, their closest competitor just one point back, on Sunday, Oct. 13, at 2 p.m. Both games will serve as cappers to doubleheaders with the UCSD women, and have live stats. UCSD is a perfect 3-0 with no goals surrendered in 270 minutes of home action in 2013. All regular-season matches at Triton Soccer Stadium are free to attend.
HIGHEST NATIONAL RANKING OF DIVISION II ERA
UCSD jumped up four more spots, from No. 10 to No. 6, in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll released Tuesday, marking the program's highest ranking of the Division II era (since 2000) for the second week in a row. Before ascending from No. 22 to No. 10 on Oct. 1, the Tritons previously were as high as No. 15 on Sept. 13, 2005. UCSD was last this high in any poll, on Nov. 11, 1996, when it was No. 6 in the final Division III ranking of the 1996 regular season. The Tritons have also climbed over Simon Fraser, the top-rated team in the nation a week ago, and are No. 1 in the West Region. Simon Fraser had its perfect 8-0 record blemished at Seattle Pacific, 2-1, last Thursday, Oct. 3. In its first in-season installment of 2013 on Sept. 10, UCSD entered the NSCAA national rankings, at No. 25, for the very first time under sixth-year head coach Jon Pascale. The Tritons' last appearance before that occurred on Nov. 1, 2005, at No. 19 ahead of the CCAA Championship.
It was seemingly impossible, but the Tritons, who led the entire nation in the NCAA Division II a year ago in goals-against average (0.44) and shutout percentage (0.71), have actually managed to improve their defensive numbers through 10 matches in 2013. UCSD has kept seven clean sheets out of 10 (0.70 percentage), including six straight shutout triumphs. The team has only given up one goal in each of the other three contests, and boasts a 0.29 GAA. The Tritons are currently second in Division II in both GAA and shutout percentage, behind only No. 3 Lander (0.14, 0.86). The Bearcats (6-1-1), out of Greenwood, S.C., lost 3-0 at UNC Pembroke on Wednesday, Oct. 9, however, with new NCAA statistical rankings coming out at the beginning of each week. Individually, senior All-American goalkeeper Josh Cohen, No. 1 nationally in 2012 in goals-against average (0.397) and save percentage (.898), is currently second with his 0.292 GAA, but again, the only person ahead of him through last Sunday's games was Lander's Barrett Nielsen (0.145). Cohen, No. 3 in save percentage (0.897), and UCSD, have not allowed a goal in 583:59, this now marking the program's longest shutout stretch in Division II, and fourth of 400-plus minutes since the start of the 2012 campaign. The Tritons had previously gone 503:37 without a goal against a year ago. They have surrendered no more than one goal over their past 14 games going back to the end of 2012, and have posted 19 shutouts over their last 26.
ATOP THE CCAA
After securing a maximum 18 points from the past three weekends, UCSD moved from a tie for last place in the South Division to sole possession of first at 19 points. The Tritons are one point ahead of Sunday's opponent, Chico State, two ahead of No. 17 Cal State L.A. and five clear of Cal State Dominguez Hills in a stacked South. Cal State Monterey Bay now leads in the North by three points over Sonoma State. Cohen paces the CCAA in goals-against average (0.29), shutouts (seven), least goals against (three) and save percentage (.897). Brandon Bauman is tied for second with a team-best five assists. Fellow junior newcomer Alessandro Canale is tied for fifth with his four goals. Senior playmaker Andisheh Bagheri is ninth with 24 shots and tied for ninth with three goals. As a team, UCSD has let up the second-lowest amount of shots, at 87 to 70 by Chico State.
ARSHT JOINS BACK-LINE MATE LAMMING IN EARNING WEEKLY CCAA HONOR
On Monday evening, Alec Arsht joined fourth-year senior central defensive partner Gavin Lamming as a second Wilson/CCAA Player of the Week honoree for UCSD this season. Arsht led a pair of shutout road victories as the Tritons let up just 12 shot attempts over 180 minutes, and added his first goal of 2013 to cap a 2-0 triumph at Cal State East Bay on Oct. 6. Lamming had earlier earned the weekly distinction back on Sept. 24, similarly after anchoring the defense to two shutout road wins, over divisional foes who each entered that weekend with undefeated records. Lamming also headed in a 27th-minute corner kick from junior teammate Jacob Valadez for the lone goal at Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 22.
In blanking then-No. 14 Chico State and Cal State San Bernardino 1-0 away from home on Sept. 20 and 22, respectively, UCSD completed its first sweep of a CCAA road weekend since 2010. That year, the Tritons edged Cal State Monterey Bay, 1-0 in Seaside, on Friday, Sept. 24, before blanking San Francisco State, 2-0, two days later. UCSD repeated the two-game road sweep this past weekend, achieving comfortable 2-0 scorelines at defending CCAA champion Cal State Stanislaus on Oct. 4 and Cal State East Bay on Oct. 6. At 5-1-1, the Tritons have their most road wins since 2005, when they went 5-4-2 outside of La Jolla.
At 8-1-1, UCSD is off to its best 10-game start of the Division II era, and best since an unbeaten 9-0-1 opening to its 1988 Division III national championship season ... At 6-1-1, this is UCSD's best eight-game CCAA start ... The current six-game win streak is the Tritons' best in Division II, and longest since a nine-gamer in 1996 ... Cohen and redshirt freshman right back Brett Sampiere (Solana Beach/Torrey Pines HS) are the only Tritons to have played all 923:57 ... Arsht, Lamming, Sampiere and junior left back Matthew McClure have made up the back four in front of Cohen for virtually every minute of this six-game shutout stretch ... Cohen handled his 100th career save early in the opener at California Baptist (9/5), and with his seven shutouts in 2013, has a total of 19 for his career ... Canale leads the team with four goals scored, while two of Bagheri's three goals have been game-winners, with an overtime penalty kick at CBU and a free kick vs. Sonoma State (9/29) ... Bauman's team-leading five assists are the most by a Triton since senior Cory Wolfrom had eight helpers in 2011 ... Bauman collected two assists each vs. Point Loma (9/7) and at Cal State East Bay (10/6) ... Both of Wolfrom's goals in 2013 have been game-winners ... The 2-1 victory at CBU was UCSD's first of the come-from-behind variety since a 4-1 home defeat of SF State on Oct. 28, 2011 ... UCSD produced five 1-0 victories in 2012 and has three so far in 2013.
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Pascale, the 2012 CCAA Coach of the Year, has posted a 52-34-15 (.589) overall record in his sixth season in charge of the UCSD men's soccer program. The 1-0 home victory over Sonoma State on Sept. 29 gave him career win No. 50, while the 2-0 triumph at Cal State Stanislaus on Oct. 4 marked his 100th match at the Triton helm.
ABOUT THE COYOTES
Cal State San Bernardino has fallen on some hard times after getting off to a hot start that saw it undefeated through six games (4-0-2) with zero goals given up. Three straight 1-0 setbacks, including a home defeat to the Tritons on Sept. 22, have led to a current six-game losing skid, with five by one-goal margins, but only two goals scored. The Coyotes are thus 4-6-2 overall and in last place in the South Division with a 2-6 league mark. Tigran Tiraturyan, Juan Gonzalez and Raul Gomez have accounted for two goals apiece, with Tiraturyan and Andre Spencer at two assists each. Sophomore Jeff Salt (0.80 GAA, 36 saves, four shutouts) is the regular goalkeeper. Travis Clarke is the interim director of soccer for the CSUSB men.
UCSD holds a narrow edge in the all-time series, 18-16-6. Lamming nodded in the lone goal at 26:34 in the 1-0 Triton victory in San Bernardino on Sept. 22. Cohen made four stops to earn the clean sheet. The teams played to a 1-1 draw in San Bernardino last Sept. 16, 2012, before a 2-0 UCSD win in La Jolla two weeks later. UCSD swept both matches in 2011. The Tritons are 2-0-1 against the Coyotes over the last three years in La Jolla since a 2-1 CSUSB triumph in 2009. The Coyotes haven't scored at Triton Soccer Stadium in 288:40.
ABOUT THE WILDCATS
Chico State enters the weekend at 8-2 overall and 6-2 in CCAA play. The Wildcats are receiving votes in this week's national poll and are right behind the Tritons in the CCAA South, just one point back with 18. They have won three straight, including back-to-back shutouts last weekend, 3-0 at home against Cal State San Bernardino and 1-0 at SF State. Junior set-piece specialist Octavio Guzman tallied the free-kick winner in the 73rd minute of the latter triumph, and leads the squad with four assists. Five teammates have two goals apiece. James Stroud (Encinitas/Torrey Pines HS) has three shutouts and a 0.71 goals-against average as the 'Cats' regular goalkeeper, though fellow senior Sam Evans (0.34 GAA, six saves, one shutout) has started each of the last three contests. The Wildcats are new to the South Division this year, swapping spots with SF State in the CCAA's two-year rotation. Chico State lost 3-2 to Cal State Stanislaus in Carson in the 2012 CCAA Championship final. Felipe Restrepo is in his sixth season in charge. The Wildcats, an impressive 6-1 away from home, are at Cal Poly Pomona on Friday night before coming to La Jolla on Sunday.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 9-5-2. The Tritons won 1-0 in Chico on Sept. 20 in then-14th-ranked Chico State's home opener, courtesy of Taylor Wirth's (Escondido/La Costa Canyon HS) first career goal in the 28th minute. Cohen had three saves in the shutout. The teams played to a scoreless draw last Oct. 21 on Senior Day in La Jolla, with Cohen making a pair of stops over the 110 minutes. Chico State is scoreless against UCSD over the last 225 minutes. The Tritons are an unbeaten 3-0-1 in La Jolla since a 3-1 'Cats victory on Oct. 3, 2003, when current U.S. national team forward and reigning Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player Chris Wondolowski of the San Jose Earthquakes assisted on the opener.
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THE BIG PICTURE
We want to reward you for posting your creative photos. Tweet and Instagram your pics from any UCSD Athletics event and include our #TritonsRising hashtag. At the end of every month, we'll pick our favorite photos and dole out some swag to the winners!
UCSD continues a season-long six-match homestand over the remainder of the month of October next weekend against two more South Division rivals in Cal State Dominguez Hills (Oct. 18, 4:30 p.m.) and Cal Poly Pomona (Oct. 20, 11:30 a.m.).