LA JOLLA, Calif. - Instead of trick-or-treating on Halloween, the No. 9 UC San Diego women's soccer team will be knocking on the door of the California Collegiate Athletic Association's top-seed, Cal State L.A, on the final weekend of CCAA regular season play.
After launching 12 spots higher in Oct. 26th's NCAA Division II National Rankings on the heels of their 11-match unbeaten streak, The Tritons (12-2-2 overall, 10-2-2 CCAA) trail the Golden Eagles (12-3 overall, 11-3 CCAA) by a single point in the CCAA South, and, with both squads playing a pair of matches this weekend, the top-seed for the CCAA postseason tournament could be there for the taking.
UCSD will face Cal State East Bay in a home-and-home series over the weekend, traveling to face the Pioneers on Friday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 p.m. in Hayward before hosting CSUEB at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Triton Soccer Field. CSUEB is in last place in the CCAA South with a 6-8-3 overall record and a 4-8-2 record in conference play.
The Tritons come into Friday's match with 32 points, needing help from either of CSULA's last two opponents, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State San Bernardino, to make up the one-point differential with the Golden Eagles. UCSD will be hoping CPP repeats its Sept. 24th performance against CSULA, a game in which the Broncos took down the Golden Eagles in overtime, 2-1. Cal State L.A. has won four straight contests, half as much as UCSD's win-streak, which stands at eight games.
In the CCAA, the North and South Division winners plus the next two teams with the highest point totals advance to a four-team single elimination tournament to determine the CCAA champion and automatic entrant into the NCAA Division II Championship. As it stands, UCSD would be granted the No. 2 seed, with CSULA (33 points), San Francisco State (29 points) and Cal State Stanislaus (28 points) rounding out the rest of the field.
The Tritons have won three of the previous five CCAA championships ranging back to 2005, their last coming during the 2008 campaign.
CPP and CSUSB won't be doing UCSD any favors come this weekend, as the Tritons escaped with 1-0 victories over the Broncos and Coyotes on the road last weekend. Alexa Enlow scored her first goal of the season in the 57th minute in Friday's win over the CPP, out-jumping a defender and heading the ball inside the far-post off of a cross from Annette Ilg. Ilg now has three assists in her last four games and is tied with Shelby Wong for second-best on the team with four assists on the season. Ilg also has a team-high nine goals on the year, ninth-best in the CCAA.
Goalkeeper Kristin Armstrong stopped eight Bronco shots, including five over a six minute span midway through the first half. Armstrong is a main reason UCSD is ranked atop the CCAA with a 0.62 goals against average.
UCSD Head Coach Brian McManus called Sunday's match at CSUSB "massive" after the win over CPP, adding, "Every game is a playoff game right now."
McManus was right, as the Tritons and Coyotes matched each other with 13 shots over 100 minutes with nothing to show for it. However, moments after the opening whistle to the second overtime period, Courtney Capobianco would be in the right place at the right time to deflect in Sarah McTigue's shot attempt, giving UCSD a golden goal in the 101st minute and a shot at taking over the top-spot in the CCAA going into the final weekend of play.
Capobianco's goal was her first of the season. Armstrong added nine saves and Anne Wethe unleashed three shots.
Cal State East Bay has dropped its previous three contests and four of its last six. Shianna Falk leads the Pioneers with five goals on the season and 15 shots on frame. Michelle Garcia is ranked tenth in the CCAA with a 0.24 assists per game average. UCSD has won both contests in the short history between the two teams, the last coming in the form of a 1-0 win at Triton Soccer Field on Oct. 11, 2009.
The CCAA Championships are Friday, Nov. 5 and Sunday, Nov. 7 on the campus of Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock. Time of kickoff is still to be determined for both rounds.