NO. 10 UC SAN DIEGO #KCBOUND IN SEARCH OF ULTIMATE PRIZE
The 10th-ranked University of California San Diego men's soccer team is two wins away from its first national title in 17 years at the NCAA Division II level, and first since 1993, when the Tritons earned their last of three Division III crowns. The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season, CCAA Tournament and West Region treble champion UC San Diego (19-2-2) heads to Kansas City, Mo., on Monday afternoon, for the ultimate destination of the 2016 NCAA Division II Championship, as the 38-team field has been whittled down to four.
The Tritons will take on top-ranked Wingate (17-1) in the first national semifinal on Children's Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 9 a.m. PT. Fourth-ranked Charleston (18-2-2) and No. 6 Rockhurst (18-2-3) contest the other semifinal at 12 p.m. PT. The winners meet in the national final on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 10 a.m. PT. The event is co-hosted by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the Kansas City Sports Commission and Rockhurst.
UCSD, a winner of six straight and 14-1-1 over its last 16, is 7-2-1 away from home in 2016. The Tritons' #QuestFor4 has them in search of both their fourth title of 2016, and fourth national crown in program history.
All of the action from Kansas City will be shown live, with commentary and without charge, on NCAA.com. All games have live stats. Fans can access live coverage from the Schedule/Results page, or by clicking on the links above. Starting lineups, live in-game updates and other news and notes can be found by following Triton Soccer on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons).
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP TICKET INFO
Tickets for the 2016 NCAA Championship can be purchased at Swope Soccer Village on the day of the games. General admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students. All-tournament passes are $20 for adults and $15 for students.
UC San Diego remained a season-best 10th in the final regular-season National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll. The Tritons debuted at No. 21 on Sept. 20, before falling into the receiving votes category just outside of the top 25, for two weeks. The initial No. 21 appearance marked UCSD's first national ranking since a No. 9 listing in the 2014 preseason, which was also its last time in the top 10. The Tritons will be in Kansas City with the nation's No. 1, No. 4 and No. 6 sides this week in semifinal opponent Wingate, Charleston and Rockhurst, respectively.
A first-time NCAA Division II national champion will be crowned in Kansas City on Saturday, Dec. 3, though UCSD does have three titles at the Division III level. All four teams were ranked in the top 10 in the final regular-season poll. The Tritons are lowest-ranked at No. 10, but have produced the most wins at 19. Wingate now boasts the nation's No. 1 defense with a 0.44 team goals-against average, as the nation's only side still with single-digit goals allowed, at eight. UCSD is No. 3 at 0.46, and has given up just six from the run of play among 11 in all. Rockhurst is No. 8 (0.63) and Charleston is No. 16 (0.77). On the other end, Charleston, which will be making a third straight semifinal appearance with a national runner-up effort in 2014, has the No. 2 offense at 76 goals and 3.45 goals per game. The Tritons have never met Wingate, Charleston or Rockhurst in men's soccer.
LAST TIME OUT
UCSD produced two more dramatic home victories to make it to the final weekend of the NCAA Championship. In their second Division II West Region final appearance, in primetime on Friday night, Nov. 18, the Tritons got an own goal at 94:11 to knock off 2015 West champion and national runner-up Cal Poly Pomona, 1-0. Zachary Lagotta's right-sided cross was turned in by a Bronco defender, with Riley Harbour crashing the six-yard box. Cameron McElfresh made five saves to post his 13th individual clean sheet. UCSD then in Sunday afternoon's national quarterfinal produced an incredible seventh come-from-behind triumph, overturning a 31st-minute penalty-kick goal in the second half. Kuba Waligorski, who had caused that penalty, made up for it in a big way by putting together his first collegiate brace, getting on the end of two set pieces in the form of a 58th-minute Justice Duerksen corner kick and 77th-minute Uly de la Cal free kick.
NCAA DIVISION II CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
UCSD is making its fourth NCAA Division II Championship appearance and third in the last four seasons under Jon Pascale. The Tritons have advanced to a first semifinal at the Division II level and sixth overall (1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993). They earned their first victory in the Division II tourney on Nov. 13, 2-0 over Western Washington, and after two more home triumphs Nov. 18-20, are now an even 3-1-3. UCSD had previously played to three successive 1-1 ties, the first two in 2013. The Tritons advanced past Chico State on penalty kicks in the second round at home, before getting knocked out in the same fashion by Simon Fraser in Denver, Colo., in the third round. In 2014, Cal State LA outlasted the Tritons on penalties, 5-4, in Azusa in the first round. UCSD was eliminated by Chico State in its Division II tourney debut, 2-0, on Nov. 14, 2003, allowing two late goals in the Far West Regional semifinal at Toro Field in Carson. Before that, UCSD went 26-10-4 (.700) in 15 NCAA Division III Championship appearances between 1983-99. That history includes three national titles in 1988, 1991 and 1993.
NCAA Division II Championship
2016 - Triton Soccer Stadium, La Jolla
Quarterfinal - UC San Diego 2, Midwestern State 1
Third Round (West Region Final) - UC San Diego 1, Cal Poly Pomona 0 (OT)
Second Round - UC San Diego 2, Western Washington 0
2014 - Cougar Soccer Complex, Azusa
First Round - UC San Diego 1, Cal State LA 1 (2OT) (CSULA advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4)
2013 - Regis University Match Pitch, Denver, Colo.
Third Round - UC San Diego 1, Simon Fraser 1 (2OT) (SFU advanced on penalty kicks, 4-3)
2013 - Triton Soccer Stadium, La Jolla
Second Round - UC San Diego 1, Chico State 1 (2OT) (UCSD advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4)
2003 - Toro Field, Carson
Far West Regional Semifinal - Chico State 2, UC San Diego 0
RETURN TO PREMIER DEFENSE
UCSD has allowed 11 goals over 2146:24, for a goals-against average of 0.46, which ranks third in all of the NCAA Division II. Six have come from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. The Tritons are second in save percentage (.872) and third in shutout percentage (0.61). The team's longest shutout stretch of the year has been 513:54 through four-plus clean sheets, with two more of 356:51 and 353:12. The Tritons boasted one of the top seven defenses nationally in Division II in terms of team GAA for three straight seasons between 2012-14, but fell back to the 48th spot a year ago (1.09). They led the country in that category in 2012 with a then-CCAA-record mark of 0.44, before finishing fourth in 2013 (0.52) and seventh in 2014 (0.65). The CCAA standard is 0.415 (Cal State LA in 2014), with the program record 0.42 (1990).
UCSD's CCAA-best 39 goals have come from 13 different players ... UCSD has used the exact same starting 11 in four straight matches and 10 of the last 11, with the lone exception the CCAA Tournament semifinal on Nov. 4 when forward Malek Bashti was out through injury and replaced by Uly de la Cal ... Otherwise, the 4-4-2 alignment has been McElfresh; Powers, Waligorski, Uribe, Mac; Lagotta, Harbour, Merrill, Duerksen; S. Palano and Bashti for the entire back half ... UCSD has not allowed a goal from the run of play in 555:38, since late in its last loss, 3-1 at Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 27 ... The last three goals the Tritons have conceded, and four of six, have been from the penalty spot ... Kuba Waligorski has scored three of his four goals in UCSD's three NCAA Championship games, and of his four this season, all have come from set pieces, with two off of Justice Duerksen corner kicks and two from Uly de la Cal free kicks ... In fact, all six of Waligorski's goals as a Triton are from set pieces, with three from free kicks and three from corners ... The Tritons have achieved a 2-1 scoreline seven times this year, all wins, and all of those contests progressed with UCSD surrendering the opener and rallying to win ... UCSD has trailed at halftime four times this year, all 1-0, and won each time, 2-1 ... At 19-2-2, this is the Tritons' best record since going 21-2-1 during the 1993 national title season.
STAT OF THE SEASON
If there has been one telling statistic of the UCSD men's soccer program's 2016 campaign, it is that on seven occasions, the Tritons have surrendered a game's first score before rallying for a 2-1 victory via late goals. It happened in each of their first two games at home to begin the year, and turned into an exhilirating trend. UCSD has turned the trick three times in La Jolla and four times away from home, those four all in succession before the national quarterfinal at Triton Soccer Stadium on Nov. 20. UCSD's last two goals conceded were via penalty kicks in the 35th and 31st minutes in the CCAA final and national quarterfinal, respectively. In the former on Nov. 6 in Turlock, Jonathan Stoop's first college goal in the 66th tied matters with Sonoma State, before Sam Palano was the hero at 93:30 of overtime. Against Midwestern State on Nov. 20, Kuba Waligorski nodded home two set pieces in the 58th and 77th to flip the halftime deficit. Perhaps most dramatically, two goals in the last 4:27 of regulation wrecked host Cal Poly Pomona's CCAA title hopes on Oct. 29, as Justice Duerksen put in the rebound of his own saved penalty at 85:33, and provided the corner-kick service for Christian Cordell's decisive tap-in at 88:06.
McELFRESH AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS
Cameron McElfresh is third in the entire nation with his career-best goals-against average of 0.471. He leads in save percentage (.869), and is second in individual shutouts (13) and goalie minutes played (2101:24).
JEFF POWERS FIRST D-II TOURNEY TRIUMPH
Two defenders did the scoring and also aided in a 13th shutout on the season as UCSD got past Western Washington, 2-0, at home in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Nov. 13. Jeff Powers' stunning strike from greater than 30 yards in the 11th minute found the bottom right corner for the redshirt sophomore right back's first collegiate goal at the most opportune time. Senior center back and captain Kuba Waligorski touched in Uly de la Cal's free kick from close range in the 70th to effectively seal UCSD's first-ever victory in the NCAA Division II tournament. Cameron McElfresh was on his game, making six saves, including several important ones in the first half in particular, to post his 12th individual clean sheet.
TRITONS COMPLETE DOUBLE IN DRAMATIC FASHION
Top-seeded UCSD rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to down No. 2 seed Sonoma State 2-1 in overtime in the CCAA Tournament final on Nov. 6 in Turlock, adding a first-ever tourney banner to its first-ever league title. True freshman Jonathan Stoop picked a fine time for his first collegiate goal, leveling the score at 1-1 in the 66th minute off an overhead kick from a Uly de la Cal throw-in. Playing a man up after a Seawolf red card late in regulation, the Tritons nabbed the winner at 93:30, with senior Sam Palano firing home after a fine run and pass by Malek Bashti down the right flank. Justice Duerksen had scored the lone goal in the 55th minute of a 1-0 shutout over Cal State San Bernardino in Friday's semifinal. Palano was the CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Offensive Player, with Kuba Waligorski the Most Valuable Defensive Player. Joining them on the All-Tournament Team were de la Cal, Duerksen, Riley Harbour and goalie Cameron McElfresh.
HISTORY! UCSD RALLIES FOR FIRST-EVER CCAA CROWN
With two goals over the final 4:27 of regulation, UCSD snatched the 2016 CCAA championship from 2015 West Region champion Cal Poly Pomona on its own field in a winner-take-all on Oct. 29. Trailing 1-0 through a 75th-minute penalty and headed toward third place, the Tritons earned a penalty kick of their own through a foul on Justice Duerksen. Duerksen's attempt was saved by the goalkeeper, but the senior winger hammered home the rebound at 85:33. With overtime looming, super sub Christian Cordell's one-touch, left-footed shot managed to find the target from close range at 88:06, after Duerksen's corner kick had been parried by the goalie. There was still time, though, for some final drama. CPP actually found the target with less than a minute remaining, after a deflected Sergi Monso effort was tapped from close range into an empty net by Nadeer Ghantous, but the linesman's flag was up for offside. The result gave the Tritons, picked fifth in the preseason coaches' poll, the outright title, with their 28 points (9-2-1) outdistancing Sonoma State (26) and pushing CPP (25) to third. The Tritons had clinched a fourth successive CCAA Tournament berth with a 3-0 win at Cal State East Bay on Oct. 21.
OFFENSE MUCH IMPROVED
UC San Diego has a CCAA-best 39 goals over 23 games in 2016, after managing just 15 in 18 matches a year ago. The Tritons struck twice in both of their first two matches, having not produced multiple scores in back-to-back games even once in 2015. UCSD then hit for six on Sept. 10 against Saint Martin's, achieving its first 6-0 scoreline since another home defeat, that one over Cal State East Bay, in the 2010 finale (Oct. 31). Five of those goals came before the break, marking the first period of play for the Tritons with five goals, since the second frame of that East Bay matchup. UCSD scored twice in successive games Oct. 7-9, and strung together a season-best stretch of three contests with multiple goals, Oct. 16-23, for the first time since a four-gamer, Sept. 9-18, 2014.
The nation's No. 3-ranked defense has consisted the past 13 games, and last 16 of 17, of senior captain Kuba Waligorski and true freshman Kelvin Uribe at center back, junior Nolan Mac at left back, and redshirt sophomore Jeff Powers at right back. Junior Kyle Panganiban started the first six contests next to Waligorski prior to suffering an injury. Fifth-year senior Brett Sampiere played all 108:19 of the season opener vs. Azusa Pacific (9/1) at right back, but has been hurt since. Junior newcomer Steven Ortiz played the full 90 minutes vs. Westmont (9/3) and Saint Martin's (9/10) at left back, with sophomore Quinn Allan also filling in as an injury replacement at left back (10/2). Of the 23 games so far, the defensive central midfield role has been occupied by sophomore Matt Merrill 17 times, and true freshman Jonathan Stoop on six occasions.
MEANINGFUL MISSOURI RETURN FOR PERERA
This trip to Kansas City, Mo., for the final weekend of the 2016 NCAA Division II Championship generates an interesting note for first-year UCSD assistant coach Nick Perera. Perera, the current captain of the U.S. beach national team, starred collegiately at UC Santa Barbara from 2005-08 and led the Gauchos to their first national championship exactly a decade ago in 2006 at Hermann Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. In a 2-1 triumph over UCLA in the final, he scored the early opener and assisted on what proved to be the decider, earning College Cup Most Outstanding Offensive Player distinction. The semifinals were moved that year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2 due to severe weather, with the final, just like this year's D-II edition, held on Dec. 3.
#PALANOPOWER GOT THE MAGIC STARTED
Back on Sept. 1 in the season opener versus Azusa Pacific, Sam Palano volleyed in the 68th-minute equalizer and turned provider for twin brother Nick Palano with just 1:41 left in the second overtime to down the Cougars, 2-1, and set the Tritons off on this groundbreaking season. It meant the first time in their four-year college careers that the identical twins combined on a goal, and was also the first time they both scored in the same match. Sam continues to lead the team with 19 points from six goals and seven assists, all career bests. His first collegiate brace came against rival Chico State on Sept. 25. The brothers have accounted for four of UCSD's 19 game-winning tallies, and five decisive assists. Sam in fact produced three straight goals for the team, with no other Triton having found the net over 594:39, leading up to Riley Harbour's overtime winner at 97:12 against Humboldt State on Oct. 2.
Four UCSD seniors earned Division 2 Conference Commissioners Association All-West Region distinction, with Cameron McElfresh and Kuba Waligorski making the first team and thus advancing to the All-America ballot, and Riley Harbour and Sam Palano gaining spots on the second team. Only Waligorski was an all-region honoree previously, with a second-team nod in 2014.
EIGHT EARN CCAA RECOGNITION
Eight Triton players earned some type of postseason recognition from the CCAA, led by senior goalkeeper Cameron McElfresh as the CCAA Defensive Player of the Year. Jon Pascale was the CCAA Coach of the Year for the third time in his nine years. McElfresh was joined on the All-CCAA First Team by Riley Harbour and Kuba Waligorski. Making the second team were Justice Duerksen, Sam Palano and Kelvin Uribe. Malek Bashti and Nolan Mac picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions.
The UC San Diego men's soccer team mourns the loss of one of its own, Sean Pleskow, who passed away unexpectedly over the weekend of Nov. 5-6. Sean was a two-year member of the Tritons in 2014-15, as was older brother Will (2012-13). The Tritons wore a special patch on their jerseys in each of their first three NCAA Championship games in remembrance.
OVERTIME FORTUNES OVERTURNED
The double-overtime triumph over Azusa Pacific on Sept. 1 marked UCSD's first overtime win since Malek Bashti's first collegiate goal took down rival Chico State in the 2013 CCAA semifinals in Turlock. The Tritons went 0-1-12 in overtime contests in 2014 and 2015, with 12 straight draws since, ironically, a 1-0 double-overtime loss to APU in La Jolla on Sept. 20, 2014. They have added four more overtimes victories, 1-0 at home against Humboldt State on Oct. 2, 2-1 at Stanislaus State on Oct. 21, 2-1 over Sonoma State in the CCAA final in Turlock in Nov. 6, and 1-0 versus Cal Poly Pomona in the West Region final in La Jolla on Nov. 18. UCSD is 5-0-2 in extras, with four straight victories, and is an unbeaten 5-0-14 since that last OT loss in 2014.
McELFRESH BREAKS RECORD
On Sept. 25 against Chico State, Cameron McElfresh posted his fourth individual shutout of 2016 and 23rd of his career, breaking former All-American teammate Josh Cohen's program record for the Division II era, since 2000. He had matched it with a clean sheet at Concordia on Sept. 17. McElfresh has 13 on the season, the most in the CCAA, and 32 as a Triton, No. 2 on the all-time list. The school standard is held by UCSD Athletics Hall of Famer Brian Siljander (1987-90), at 37.
HOME DOMINANCE UNDER PASCALE
UC San Diego finished an unbeaten 12-0-1 at home in 2016 after going 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015. Under Jon Pascale over eight-plus years, the Tritons are 58-20-15 (.704) in La Jolla. They are 14-0-2 in their last 16 at Triton Soccer Stadium, since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015. UCSD has thus not lost at home in over a full calendar year.
UCSD's seven-game win streak, which was snapped by a 3-1 defeat at Cal State San Bernardino on Oct. 27, was its longest since another seven-gamer from Sept. 20-Oct. 11, 2013. The nine-game unbeaten run of 8-0-1 was the Tritons' best under ninth-year head coach Jon Pascale, and the program's lengthiest single-season unbeaten stretch of the NCAA Division II era, since 2000. UCSD was unbeaten for 10 straight games (8-0-2) over two seasons, from Oct. 12, 2007, to Sept. 17, 2008, and previously for nine (8-0-1) during the 1999 campaign, it's final one in Division III, from Sept. 22-Oct. 22. The Tritons also won four in a row on the road, before that result at CSUSB.
HISTORIC GOAL MEANS CCAA NOD FOR CORDELL
Christian Cordell was named on Nov. 1 as the final CCAA Player of the Week for the 2016 season, thanks to his game-winning goal with 1:54 left in regulation at Cal Poly Pomona on Oct. 29 that gave UCSD its first-ever CCAA championship.
As UCSD's game at SF State kicked off at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, the Tritons sat in a two-way tie for eighth in the league table. Through four successive wins beginning that afternoon and going through Oct. 16, they moved into a tie for sixth, a tie for fourth, a tie for first, and finally, sole possession of the top spot in the CCAA standings. UCSD dipped briefly back to second after Sonoma State's 3-0 home win over Humboldt State on Oct. 19, but a 2-1 victory at Stanislaus State two nights later put the Tritons alone again in pole position.
FIRST CCAA WEEKLY AWARD FOR CAM
On Oct. 18, Cameron McElfresh became UCSD's first CCAA Player of the Week for the 2016 season. It was his first such award, coming after two more individual shutouts in a pair of home victories, with a career-best seven saves in the latter contest on Senior Day on Oct. 16 against CSUDH.
PROGRAM FIRST FOR CAM
Cameron McElfresh on Oct. 4 became the first UCSD men's player named the NSCAA Division II National Player of the Week, following his back-to-back home shutouts over the previous weekend. The NSCAA expanded its weekly awards program to include the Division II ranks back in 2013.
The first three of fourth-year senior central midfielder Riley Harbour's four goals this year were game-winners at home, including two in critical 1-0 CCAA triumphs, with an overtime strike vs. Humboldt State (Oct. 2) and a first-half tally vs. No. 12 Cal State LA (10/14) ... Prior to victories at SF State (2-1) on Oct. 7 and Cal State Monterey Bay (2-0) on Oct. 9, UCSD had last swept a CCAA road weekend in 2013, winning at Stanislaus State (2-0) on Oct. 4 and Cal State East Bay (2-0) on Oct. 6 ... Click here to watch Riley Harbour's overtime winner against Humboldt State on Oct. 2, and here for Christian Cordell's stunner against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Oct. 16 ... UC San Diego is 9-6-2 in CCAA openers after a 1-0 loss at CSUSM on Sept. 21, which snapped a string of two straight wins ... UCSD is 12-3-2 in season openers in its NCAA Division II era, since 2000, following the Sept. 1 defeat of Azusa Pacific, 2-1, with the Tritons an unbeaten 3-0-1 over their last four ... UCSD was picked fifth in the CCAA preseason coaches' poll, with 2015 West Region champion CPP the favorite.
2016 SEASON OUTLOOK
UC San Diego had no seniors on its 2015 roster, but has eight in 2016. The Tritons welcome back the core of their defense in redshirt seniors Cameron McElfresh in goal and Brett Sampiere and Kuba Waligorski on the back line alongside junior Kyle Panganiban. Waligorski is a two-time All-CCAA Second Team pick, with McElfresh gaining All-CCAA honorable mentions for each of the past two years without missing a single minute between the posts. Sampiere, making a permanent return to his natural spot at right back, earned All-CCAA honorable mentions in 2013 and 2015. Nolan Mac and Jeff Powers were in the lineup at times and will vie for minutes.
The offensive production should be boosted by the return of Malek Bashti after missing 2015 through injury. Junior Uly de la Cal tied for the team high in points from two goals and three assists a year ago. Senior Riley Harbour, one of two Tritons he shared that designation with, is back in central midfield, as are Justice Duerksen, Zachary Lagotta and Nick Palano among wing options. Lagotta was All-CCAA honorable mention as a sophomore in 2015. Forward Sam Palano joins his identical twin brother as a fourth-year senior who will be counted on.
Among 29 players on the 2016 roster are 23 returners, just six newcomers, and eight seniors. All but Polish captain Kuba Waligorski are California natives. There are four San Diego products, in redshirt senior right back Brett Sampiere (Solana Beach/Torrey Pines HS), junior winger Zachary Lagotta (Cathedral Catholic HS), sophomore forward Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy) and redshirt freshman midfielder Daniel Boemer (San Diego/Scripps Ranch HS).
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, now a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year through back-to-back honors in 2012 and 2013 and another this season, has posted a 93-48-33 (.629) overall record in his ninth year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 65-39-24 (.602) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. Pascale has this season guided the Tritons to the very first CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and Division II West Region titles in the program's 17 years as a league and Division II member. This is UCSD's seventh straight campaign with an overall record of .500 or better, with seven winning seasons out of Pascale's nine. The Tritons have earned four successive berths in the CCAA Tournament, with trips to the NCAA Championship in 2013, 2014 and 2016. A 1-0 home victory over Sonoma State on Sept. 29, 2013, gave Pascale career win No. 50, while a 2-0 triumph at Stanislaus State in the very next match on Oct. 4 marked his 100th contest at the Triton helm. He directed his first postseason tilt on Nov. 8, 2013, in Turlock, a come-from-behind, 2-1 overtime win over Chico State in a CCAA semifinal. He made his NCAA tourney debut as a head coach on Nov. 16, 2013, in La Jolla. A 2-0 home decision over Cal State East Bay on Oct. 12, 2014, meant CCAA win No. 50 for Pascale, who coached his 100th CCAA tilt at Cal State Monterey Bay five days later. The 2-0 decision versus Western Washington on Nov. 13 meant Pascale's first NCAA tournament win as a head coach.
ABOUT THE BULLDOGS
Wingate (17-1, 11-0 SAC), from Wingate, N.C., ran the table in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC). The Bulldogs' lone loss came at home to eighth-seeded Brevard College, 1-0, in the SAC Tournament quarterfinals on Nov. 1. Wingate has outscored its three NCAA Championship opponents, 5-0, since that defeat, all at home. The Bulldogs have gone a perfect 7-0 away from home, with an 18-3 aggregate score. This is their eighth NCAA Championship appearance (8-7-1) and first semifinal. Gary Hammill is the longtime Wingate head coach, in his 25th season.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN EAGLES
Charleston (18-2-2, 9-2-1 MEC), from Charleston, W.Va., won its eighth straight conference tournament championship, taking the Mountain East Conference (MEC) Tournament final for the fourth time since joining the MEC, 2-1 over No. 15 Urbana at home back on Nov. 6. The Golden Eagles thus completed their own double for a third year in a row. UC has earned a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship semifinals and fourth in all. This is a seventh NCAA postseason run for Charleston (14-6-1). Chris Grassie is in his sixth season in charge at UC.
ABOUT THE HAWKS
Rockhurst (18-2-3, 12-2-1 GLVC) is out of Kansas City, Mo., and a co-host of the national semifinals and final. The Hawks won the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Tournament via penalty-kick tiebreaker in the final against seventh-seeded Indianapolis. Rockhurst was the top seed after finishing the regular-season GLVC race on top. This is its ninth NCAA Championship appearance (10-5-6) and third semifinal, all in the past four seasons. Tony Tocco is the longtime Rockhurst head coach of 45 years, with his 680 career wins ranking No. 2 in the history of college men's soccer, at any level.
TRITONS IN THE MEDIA
A selection of media clips on the UC San Diego men's soccer program from this season:
• Pascale on NSCAA College Soccer Podcast (11/23/16)
• NCAA Quarterfinal Recap in San Diego Union-Tribune (11/20/16)
• NCAA Third Round Recap in San Diego Union-Tribune (11/18/16)
• Waligorski Feature in San Diego Union-Tribune (11/17/16)
• NCAA Second Round Recap in San Diego Union-Tribune (11/13/16)
• Tritons on NCAA.com (10/21/16)
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