FIRST-PLACE UCSD ROUNDS OUT BRUTAL SEASON-OPENING ROAD STRETCH
With two more victories last weekend to stretch its current run to four straight, UCSD is feeling good as it heads back on the road this week to finally wrap up a tough season-opening draw of seven of 10 contests away from home. The Tritons are ranked No. 10 in the nation, and are in a first-place tie atop the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) South Division at 6-1-1 overall and 4-1-1 in the CCAA. They play at defending league champion Cal State Stanislaus this Friday, Oct. 4, at 4:30 p.m., and at Cal State East Bay on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 11:30 a.m. The North Division opponents failed to score against UCSD over 200 minutes of action in their single meetings a year ago, with Stanislaus dropping a 1-0 decision in La Jolla and East Bay achieving a scoreless tie at home. Both games will have live stats, with the Stanislaus match also featuring live video (no audio) on Warrior TV, courtesy of Ustream.
HIGHEST NATIONAL RANKING OF DIVISION II ERA
UCSD jumped up from No. 22 to No. 10 in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll released Tuesday, now marking its highest ranking of the Division II era. The Tritons previously were as high as No. 15 on Sept. 13, 2005. They are No. 2 in the West Region, behind only Simon Fraser, at a perfect 8-0 Division II's top-ranked team and also the only NCAA program in Canada, out of Burnaby, British Columbia. 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 eight matches thus far in 2013. UCSD has kept five clean sheets out of eight (0.63 percentage), including four straight shutout triumphs. The team has only given up one goal in each of the other three contests, and boasts a 0.363 GAA, fourth in Division II. Individually, senior All-American goalkeeper Josh Cohen, No. 1 nationally in 2012 in goals-against average (0.397) and save percentage (.898), is currently fourth with his 0.363 GAA. Cohen and UCSD have not allowed a goal in 403:59, this now marking the program's fourth shutout stretch of 400-plus minutes since the start of the 2012 campaign. The Tritons have surrendered no more than one goal over their past 12 games going back to the end of 2012.
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 already has as many road wins, three, as it did for each of the past two seasons.
AROUND THE CCAA
Having secured a maximum six points from a second straight weekend, UCSD moved from a tie for last place in the South Division two short weeks ago, to a tie now for first with Cal State L.A. at 13 points apiece. The Tritons are one point ahead of Chico State, two ahead of Cal State Dominguez Hills and three ahead of Cal Poly Pomona in a stacked South. Sonoma State remains atop the North at nine points despite successive road losses last weekend at Cal Poly Pomona and UCSD. Cohen is up to first in goals-against average (0.36) and save percentage (.889-tied). Senior playmaker Andisheh Bagheri is tied for first with 23 shots on the year.
LAMMING NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Fourth-year senior center back Gavin Lamming was named the Wilson/CCAA Player of the Week on Sept. 24 after anchoring the Triton defense to a pair of 1-0 shutout road victories over two divisional foes who each entered the weekend with undefeated records. In addition, the San Juan Capistrano product headed in a 27th-minute corner kick from junior teammate Jacob Valadez for the lone goal at Cal State San Bernardino on Sept. 22. The weekly conference award was a first for Lamming, an All-CCAA Second Team selection in 2012.
At 6-1-1, UCSD is off to its best eight-game start since 2008, Pascale's first season in charge, when it began the year with five straight wins en route to an identical overall mark of 6-1-1 ... At 4-1-1, this is UCSD's best six-game CCAA start since 2006 (4-1-1) ... The Tritons last had a four-game win streak over the last four matches of the 2011 season ... Cohen and redshirt freshman right back Brett Sampiere (Solana Beach/Torrey Pines HS) are the only Tritons to have played all 743:57 ... Cohen handled his 100th career save early in the opener at California Baptist (9/5), and with his five shutouts already in 2013, has a total of 17 for his career ... Alessandro Canale leads the team with three goals scored, while Bagheri's two goals have both been game-winners, from a penalty kick and a free kick ... Both of Brandon Bauman's team-leading two assists came vs. Point Loma (9/7) ... 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 50-34-15 (.581) overall record in his sixth season in charge of the UCSD men's soccer program. Last Sunday's 1-0 home victory over Sonoma State gave him career win No. 50, and this Friday's contest at Cal State Stanislaus will mark his 100th match at the Triton helm.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS
Cal State Stanislaus is 3-4-1 overall and 2-4 in CCAA play. The Warriors sit in a fourth-place tie in the North Division with UCSD's other opponent this week, Cal State East Bay. They split a pair of home games last weekend, falling 2-0 on Friday night to SF State before beating Cal State Monterey Bay on Sunday, 3-1. Carlos Gavino and Jose Ramirez have two goals apiece, while Gavino and Josh Handley each have two assists. Junior goalkeeper Clint Long (1.43 GAA, 29 saves, one shutout) has played every minute in net. Cal State Stanislaus edged Chico State, 3-2, in the 2012 CCAA Championship final in Carson for its first-ever league banner last Nov. 4. Dana Taylor is in his fifth season in charge. CSUS is just 1-3 inside Warrior Stadium this year.
UCSD leads the all-time series, 12-4-2. In last year's meeting on Oct. 19, Elan Gefen turned in the rebound from a Kian Malek shot that was saved by Long, for his first college goal and the lone score of the night in the 55th minute. Cohen made four stops for the clean sheet. Stanislaus won in 2011 in Turlock, 2-1, nabbing the decider with 119 seconds left in the second overtime. UCSD is 0-3 in Turlock under Pascale, suffering all three defeats by narrow one-goal margins in 2008 (1-0), 2009 (2-1) and 2011 (2-1). The Tritons' last win in Turlock came in 2006 (3-1).
ABOUT THE PIONEERS
Cal State East Bay enters the weekend at 2-6 overall and 2-4 in league play. The Pioneers had been winless in 2013 prior to sweeping their home matches last weekend, downing Cal State Monterey Bay, 3-1, on Friday night and SF State, 1-0, on Sunday through a 30th-minute Jesus Magana strike. Magana assisted on the first two goals against Monterey Bay, with fellow junior Trey James totalling two goals and an assist in the contest. Senior Bryce Bookhamer (1.11 GAA, 29 saves, one shutout) has seen a large majority of the minutes in the East Bay goal. Andy Cumbo is in his fifth season at the helm. The Pioneers, 2-4 at home, host Cal Poly Pomona on Friday evening before entertaining the Tritons on Sunday.
UCSD has never lost to Cal State East Bay, posting seven wins and a single draw in eight prior meetings. That lone tie came in scoreless fashion in Hayward a season ago on Oct. 26. Cohen made five stops over 110 shutout minutes. In fact, the Tritons have not allowed a goal to the Pioneers over their last five-plus match-ups, meaning 472:30 without a score going back to a 3-2 UCSD win in Hayward on Oct. 9, 2009. The Tritons are 5-0-1 against the Pioneers since East Bay joined the CCAA for the 2009 season, with prior meetings in Hayward as fellow Division III programs in 1992 (3-1) and 1994 (2-1), when the school was known as Cal State Hayward.
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THE BIG PICTURE
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Following the upcoming road weekend, UCSD will round out the 2013 regular season with seven of its final eight games at home, beginning with a season-long six-match homestand over the remainder of the month of October. South Division rival Cal State San Bernardino is first up on Friday, Oct. 11. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.