Photo by: Jimmy Gekas/Sideline Studios
Gabi Hernandez (13) and the Tritons play 4:30 p.m. Friday and 12 p.m. Sunday.
CCAA Play Begins as Tritons Challenge South Division Rivals in La Jolla
Release: Thursday 09/09/2010 

LA JOLLA, Calif. - It's always too early to talk about the soccer postseason in September, but the excitement surrounding this weekend's matches with Cal State L.A. and Cal State Dominguez Hills will certainly create a playoff-like atmosphere at Triton Soccer Field.

The Tritons, 2-0 after a pair of shutout victories last week, have risen to No. 6 in the latest Division II national poll. On Friday, UCSD will challenge No. 23 CSULA at 4:30 p.m., before taking on No. 9 CSUDH at 12 p.m. Sunday.

This weekend will mark the start of the California Collegiate Athletic Association schedule and a strong showing would allow the Tritons to take an early lead in the South Division race. UCSD head coach Brian McManus and his squad are looking to reverse the fortune that the Golden Eagles and Toros took in 2009, with the Tritons going 1-3-2 combined against the two squads. The final draw ended in CSUDH advancing past UCSD with a penalty shootout to capture the NCAA West Region title.

In the first two matches of the new season, the Tritons outscored their Pacific West Conference opponents by a combined score of 8-0. UCSD posted a 6-0 shutout of Dominican in the season opener, as newcomer Annette Ilg recorded two goals in her collegiate soccer debut. Two days later, the Tritons topped Notre Dame de Namur 2-0. Starting goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong has tallied 151 scoreless minutes so far in 2010.

The Golden Eagles of CSULA are returning their top four scorers from last season, including CCAA Offensive Player of the Year Liz Franco. In 2009 Franco set a new Golden Eagles' record for points with 43, after totaling 13 goals and 17 assists. Through program history, CSULA owns a 6-11-1 record against UCSD. The Golden Eagles are 1-0 in 2010 after a season-opening 3-1 victory at Cal Baptist.

The Toros of CSUDH have also gotten off to an undefeated start this year, with home victories over Concordia and Vanguard last week. Similarly to the Tritons, CSUDH is returning all of its starters from the previous season. After advancing out of the West Region in the NCAA postseason, the Toros ended up losing 1-0 to Grand Valley State in the national title game. Heading into this Sunday's match, UCSD and CSUDH hold a .500 record in the all-time series - 16 wins apiece and four draws.

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