UC SAN DIEGO BEGINS 2017 SEASON AT BIOLA
The University of California San Diego men's soccer program kicks off the 2017 campaign with a pair of non-conference matches this week. The Tritons first travel north to La Mirada to take on new Division II foe Biola of the Pacific West Conference (PacWest) on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. UCSD then returns to La Jolla to await its home opener against Division III side Occidental on Saturday, Sept. 2, with kickoff set for 5 p.m. at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus. The game will serve as the first half of the first of seven UCSD soccer doubleheaders this fall, with the No. 10 Triton women facing Central Washington right afterward. Admission is free.
UC San Diego is coming off of the most successful season of its Division II era, as the treble winner of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) regular-season, CCAA tournament and West Region championships, all for the first time. The Tritons advanced to the national semifinals in Kansas City, Mo., fell to the eventual champions and finished 19-3-2 overall and 9-2-1 in league play. They have now made four successive postseason appearances in the form of the CCAA Tournament, with NCAA Championship berths in 2013, 2014 and 2016. UCSD went an unbeaten 12-0-1 in La Jolla in 2016, and has eight home dates among 17 regular-season contests. Of five non-conference tilts, two are at home. Jon Pascale enters his milestone 10th season in charge of the Tritons just seven shy of win No. 100.
TRITON SOCCER MATCHDAY
Once again in 2017, all regular-season home matches at Triton Soccer Stadium are free to attend. Parking permits are required, however, on weeknights on the UC San Diego campus. Parking permits can be purchased at machines situated at corners of either of the nearest parking lots, behind the spectator stand, as well as the Hopkins Parking Structure adjacent to RIMAC. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday.
TRITON SOCCER ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
Select home games in 2017, including this Saturday's home opener, will feature a live video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. Broadcasts are in high definition, and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Local media personality Taylor Quellman (@TJQuellman) will primarily handle the play-by-play duties. Viewing is subscription-based, though it is free from UCSD campus IP addresses. A package that gives viewers access to all streamed events throughout the 2017-18 academic year is available for just $24.99. A single-day pay-per-view option can be purchased for $5.99, meaning doubleheaders are two-for-one. Events are archived. All games have live stats. Select road matches will also have video. 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 all season long on the UCSD Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
Free posters of the 2017 UCSD fall sports will be available at Triton Soccer Stadium during Saturday's home opener.
UCSD FAVORED TO REPEAT AS CCAA CHAMPION
UCSD is the favorite to repeat as the CCAA champion, as voted on by league head coaches in the 2017 preseason poll. The Tritons accumulated 130 points and eight of the 13 first-place votes to sit atop the poll after being picked fifth a year ago and loudly defying that prognostication. Cal State LA and 2016 CCAA Tournament finalist Sonoma State shared the second spot, each with 118 points and one first-place nod. Cal Poly Pomona was fourth with 116 points and the remaining three first-place votes. UCSD shocked the Broncos 2-1 in Pomona on the final day to steal the CCAA regular-season title, and also turned the 2015 West Region champions and national runners-up away in the West final in front of the home crowd, 1-0 in overtime. Cal State Dominguez Hills, the 2015 CCAA regular-season victor, was fifth (105), followed by Chico State (96).
UCSD is 12-3-2 in season openers in the Division II era. The Tritons overturned an early second-half deficit and got a thrilling winner from Nick Palano with just 101 ticks left in the second overtime to knock off Azusa Pacific at home a year ago. Twin brother Sam Palano assisted on that winner after equalizing in the 68th minute. They had won two straight lid-lifters, 2-1 in overtime at California Baptist in 2013, and by that same score in La Jolla against Saint Martin's in 2014, ahead of a 1-1 draw at SMU in 2015. They are thus unbeaten in their last four.
2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time and reigning CCAA Coach of the Year entering his 10th year in charge, is seven wins shy of milestone No. 100. He will have to replace eight valuable seniors, but still has a bevy of veterans to rely on in 2017. Included in that group are Malek Bashti, Christian Cordell, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), Nolan Mac, Matt Merrill, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban, Jeff Powers and Eric Young, all seniors academically or athletically. Bashti and Mac picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions a season ago, and Lagotta in 2015, with de la Cal the top returning point-getter with 16 from four goals and a team-best eight assists in 2016. Bashti, Lagotta, Mac, Merrill and Powers were regular starters, at forward, right winger, left back, holding central midfielder and right back, respectively. Fifth-year Triton Bashti had three goals and seven assists.
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 nine 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 almost two full calendar years.
RETURN TO PREMIER DEFENSE
UCSD allowed 13 goals over its 24 matches a year ago for a goals-against average of 0.52, which ranked fourth in all of the NCAA Division II. Eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. The Tritons were second in save percentage (.857) and fifth in shutout percentage (0.58), with a Division II-era program-record 14 clean sheets. The team's longest shutout stretch of the year was 513:54 through four-plus shutouts, 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 in 2015 (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).
UC San Diego had a CCAA-best 39 goals over 24 games in 2016, after managing just 15 in 18 matches in 2015. It marked a record for the program's Division II era, since 2000. Junior winger Christian Cordell is the leading returning goal-scorer, with five a year ago, all off the bench. Senior forward Uly de la Cal is the top point-getter back, having accumulated 16 from four tallies and a team-best eight assists. Strike partner Malek Bashti provided three goals and seven assists.
STAT OF THE YEAR
If there was one telling statistic from the 2016 campaign, it was that on seven occasions, the Tritons 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 turned the trick three times in La Jolla and four times away from home, those four all in succession before a final instance in the national quarterfinal at Triton Soccer Stadium on Nov. 20.
Among 27 players on the 2017 roster are 18 returners and nine newcomers, five of them true freshmen ... The eight seniors are Malek Bashti, Uly de la Cal, Danny Glascock, Zachary Lagotta, Nolan Mac, Steven Ortiz, Kyle Panganiban and Eric Young ... There are six local products in Lagotta (San Diego/Cathedral Catholic HS), junior forward Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy), and freshmen Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy), Jordan Karam (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), Oliver Nelson (Escondido/Escondido HS) and Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) ... True freshman Darragh Buckley is the younger brother of former Triton Padraig Buckley (2010-13).
CCAA TOURNAMENT RETURNS TO LA JOLLA
UC San Diego is the proud host of the 2017 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals, for the first time since 2008 and fourth in all. Two women's and two men's semifinals will be contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 3, with the two finals set for Sunday, Nov. 5. Start times are to be determined. First-round matchups will take place on the campuses of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on Tuesday, Oct. 31. In all three previous instances that UCSD has served as the host, in 2001, 2006 and 2008, the Triton men have been unable to qualify.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
Twelve of the 13 CCAA teams launch their 2017 season this Thursday, Aug. 31, with the first bit of league activity taking place on Friday, Sept. 15. For the fourth year in a row, the CCAA slate will consist of a single round robin, with all teams meeting once for 12 matches total, and the top six sides (based on most points; three points for a league win, one for a tie) in the final regular-season standings qualifying for the 2017 CCAA Tournament. Cal State San Marcos, a new addition in 2015, is eligible for the first time.
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 last season, has posted a 93-49-33 (.629) overall record in his nine years 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. Last season, Pascale 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. It was 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, 2016, meant Pascale's first NCAA tournament win as a head coach.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
Biola (0-0) is transitioning from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) into the NCAA Division II and officially joins the PacWest this year. The Eagles are ninth in that 14-team league's preseason poll, having finished 10-6-1 and in sixth in the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) in 2016. Biola has posted a winning record in each of the last six seasons, and plays on synthetic turf at Al Barbour Field. The Eagles were 7-2 at home a year ago. They play two more CCAA sides after Thursday, traveling to Cal Poly Pomona on Saturday and hosting Cal State San Marcos on Sept. 8. Todd Elkins enters his fifth season in charge of the Biola men.
UCSD holds a 12-7-1 edge in the all-time series. The sides' most recent meeting actually marked the Tritons' first-ever match as a member of the NCAA Division II, back on Sept. 1, 2000. UCSD won that one, 2-1. These teams in fact faced off once each year from 1985-2000, with UCSD holding a 12-4 edge in those matchups after Biola had the upper hand, at 3-0-1, in the earliest days of the series.
ABOUT THE TIGERS
Occidental (0-0), located in Los Angeles, is a member of the NCAA Division III and the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). The Tigers went 8-10-1 overall, 3-6-1 on the road and 7-9 in SCIAC play a season ago. They scored 47 goals, but surrendered 33 at a clip of 1.70 per game. Rod Lafaurie begins his eighth year at the helm.
UCSD is a perfect 11-0 all-time against Occidental, including 6-0 in La Jolla, all dating back to when the teams were Division III rivals. On Saturday, they will be meeting for the first time since the Tritons moved up to the Division II level for the 2000 season. In fact, their last matchup was 18 years ago, back on Oct. 4, 1999. That was a 2-0 victory in Los Angeles. The teams met for the first time in 1983, and then once each year from 1985-89, and again from 1995-99. UCSD has outscored Oxy, 43-4. The Tritons won 4-1 in La Jolla in 1998.
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FOR THE YOUNGER CROWD
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The Tritons face another split-venue non-conference pair next week, heading first to Azusa to take on Azusa Pacific on Thursday night, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. UCSD then hosts Concordia Irvine on Saturday, Sept. 9, with that kickoff at Triton Soccer Stadium also set for 7 p.m.