TRITONS BEGIN CCAA SLATE IN HOME COMFORTS
The now-14th-ranked University of California San Diego men's soccer team continues its 10-match homestand with its first two of 12 California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) contests this weekend. The Tritons, still perfect at 4-0 for the second time in three years, host Cal State Monterey Bay (1-2, 0-0 CCAA) on Friday, Sept. 14, at 4:30 p.m., and Cal State East Bay (1-2, 0-0 CCAA) on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 11:30 a.m. Both matches are at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla, and will serve as the first halves of doubleheaders with the second-ranked, also-undefeated (4-0-1) UC San Diego women. Admission is free for all regular-season games.
In the CCAA's preseason poll, UC San Diego was picked third, Cal State Monterey Bay tied for 10th, and Cal State East Bay last among 13 squads. The Tritons are one of three unbeatens left in the conference, alongside city rival Cal State San Marcos (4-0) and San Francisco State (3-0-1). UC San Diego is the only school in the NCAA Division II, with both of its soccer teams in the top 15 of the latest United Soccer Coaches national poll.
TRITON SOCCER MATCHDAY
Once again in 2018, 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, which are behind the spectator stand, and the Hopkins Parking Structure adjacent to RIMAC. Parking is free on Saturday and Sunday.
TRITON SOCCER ON UCSDTRITONS.TV
All UC San Diego home games in 2018 feature a live pay-per-view video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. The cost is $5.99 for a 24-hour window, meaning one fee for doubleheaders, and $34.99 for the entire 2018-19 academic year, to include other Triton athletics teams. Broadcasts are in high definition and can be viewed from smartphones and tablets alongside desktop and laptop computers. Seth Smith (@ItsSethESmith) handles the play-by-play duties. Events are archived. 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 all season long on the UC San Diego Athletics Twitter handle (@UCSDtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
UC SAN DIEGO IN THE UNITED SOCCER COACHES POLL
• Sept. 11: 14 (2nd in West)
• Sept. 4: RV (4th in West)
• Preseason: NR
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UC San Diego won two more non-conference tilts at home in the last week. The Tritons first blanked Concordia Irvine, favored for second in the Pacific West Conference, 1-0 on Thursday night as fifth-year senior winger Christian Cordell scored with just one second remaining in the first overtime period. With the clock stopped at seven seconds following a foul on Jonathan Stoop and Eagle yellow card, Kelvin Uribe sent a free kick into the penalty box. Jeff Powers went up with three defenders and was able to get a touch on it, before Brett Jones corralled the loose ball. With his back to goal, the sophomore forward took one steadying touch and sent an overhead kick to the far post from the left side. Cordell hammered it into the back of the net just before the goalie could get to it, at 99:59. Click here to view the goal. Monday afternoon against Saint Martin's, newcomers Jón Veigar Kristjánsson and freshman Nick Cirrito scored first-half goals, and the Tritons hung on for a 2-1 victory. It was Kristjánsson's first collegiate tally, and Cirrito's first career winner. Pedro Enciso had three saves in the Concordia shutout, and three more stops against the Saints.
UC San Diego is now 13-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000), following a 1-0 shutout over Biola on Aug. 30. The Tritons had played to a scoreless draw at Biola a year ago. They are an unbeaten 4-0-2 over their last six lid-lifters. UC San Diego is 9-7-2 in CCAA openers with back-to-back shutout losses at Cal State San Marcos (1-0) in 2016 and at home to Chico State (2-0) in 2017.
FAVORED FOR THIRD IN PRESEASON POLL
UC San Diego was picked to finish third in the 2018 CCAA race, as voted on by the league's 13 head coaches for the preseason poll. The Tritons collected 125 points and one of the 13 first-place votes. Defending West Region champion and 2017 national semifinalist Cal Poly Pomona is the favorite with 129 points and four first-place votes. Cal State LA, the 2017 CCAA Tournament champion in La Jolla, was second, just three points behind with 126, and in fact one more first-place nod than CPP, at five. Chico State took up the fourth spot (106). San Francisco State was fifth (101) with a first-place vote. Cal State San Bernardino (83) rounded out the projected CCAA tourney field. In seventh, Cal State Dominguez Hills (78) still managed the final two first-place votes. Sonoma State (68), Stanislaus State (55), Cal State Monterey Bay (46), Humboldt State (46), Cal State San Marcos (32) and Cal State East Bay (19) filled out the poll.
UC San Diego is 67-22-17 (.712) at Triton Soccer Stadium under Jon Pascale, and 23-2-4 (.862) over its last 29 in La Jolla since a 2-1 loss to Stanislaus State on Sept. 27, 2015. The Tritons had an 18-match home unbeaten streak that stretched out over nearly two full calendar years, ended by Chico State, 2-0, last Sept. 15. They wound up 5-2-2 at home a year ago, after finishing an unbeaten 12-0-1 there in 2016 and 5-1-2 inside the friendly confines in 2015.
Three Triton newcomers have tallied the first goal of their collegiate careers already through the first four games, in sophomore playmaker Jón Veigar Kristjánsson, second-year freshman winger Max Gonda and true freshman forward Nick Cirrito. Kristjánsson tallied the opener against Saint Martin's (9/10), Gonda the lone winner in his college debut in the opener with Biola (8/30), and Cirrito the opener against Azusa Pacific (9/1). Cirrito, out of Diamond Bar, has since added his first career winner versus SMU. Kristjánsson and junior left back Stjepan Kilic, both Division I transfers, made their UC San Diego debuts as starters in the opener, with junior college transfer Matt Davis coming off the bench. Cirrito, Gonda, true freshman center back Noah Sonenstein and redshirt freshman center back Oliver Nelson have all made their first college appearances.
UC San Diego has developed a reputation under head coach Jon Pascale of being a strong defensive unit, and has ranked in the top 17 nationally in the NCAA Division II in team goals-against average in five out of the last six seasons. The Tritons are currently 20th (0.49) through two weeks. They were 17th (0.76) a year ago, allowing 14 goals in all after 248:31 of shutout soccer for openers. UC San Diego led the CCAA and was second in the West Region. It surrendered just 13 goals over 24 matches in 2016 for a 0.52 GAA, which ranked fourth in the country. Only eight came from the run of play, with four penalties and one free kick. The Tritons posted a Division II-era program-record 14 clean sheets. The team's longest shutout stretch that year was 513:54 through four-plus games, with two more of 356:51 and 353:12. UC San Diego boasted one of the top seven defenses in Division II for three straight seasons between 2012-14, but fell back to the 48th spot in 2015 (1.09). It led the country in team GAA in 2012 with a then-CCAA-record mark of 0.44, before finishing fourth in 2013 (0.52) and seventh in 2014 (0.65).
Eight of UC San Diego's 17 games in 2017 went into overtime, with dramatic road wins at Azusa Pacific and Cal State San Marcos, and five double-overtime draws, around a thrilling home decision over CCAA rival Cal Poly Pomona on Sept. 29. The Tritons were an unbeaten 3-0-5 in such games last year, and after last Thursday night's 1-0 defeat of Concordia Irvine, are 9-0-19 in overtime contests since their last such loss in 2014.
Among 30 players on the 2018 roster are 18 returners and 12 newcomers, eight of them true freshmen ... All but two, new transfers Stjepan Kilic (Coppell, Texas) and Jón Veigar Kristjánsson (Kópavogur, Iceland), are California natives ... The five seniors are Nathaniel Bloom, Kiefer Cooksey, Christian Cordell, Matt Merrill and Jeff Powers, with Andy Sartor a redshirt junior in his fourth year ... Cordell (international business), Merrill (international business) and Powers (communication) are fifth-year seniors who will have completed their UC San Diego degrees at the conclusion of the fall quarter ... There are five local products in Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy), and second-year Tritons 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) ... Redshirt freshman Darragh Buckley is the younger brother of former Triton Padraig Buckley (2010-13).
CCAA TOURNAMENT REMAINS IN LA JOLLA
UC San Diego is the proud host of the 2018 CCAA Tournament semifinals and finals for the second consecutive year and fifth time in all. Two men's and two women's semifinals will be contested at Triton Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2, with the two finals set for Sunday, Nov. 4. Exact times are to be determined. First-round matchups take place on the campuses of the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds on Tuesday, Oct. 30. In all four previous instances that UC San Diego has served as host, in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2017, the Triton men have not been present in the semifinal round. For just the second time, the CCAA men's champion will earn an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
CCAA FORMAT UNCHANGED
For the fifth year in a row, the CCAA slate consists 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 2018 CCAA Tournament.
2018 SEASON OUTLOOK
Jon Pascale, the three-time CCAA Coach of the Year, is in his 11th season at the helm. Fifth-year seniors Christian Cordell, Matt Merrill and Jeff Powers return, and are the projected starters on the right side of midfield, holding central midfield, and right back, respectively. Next to Powers across the back line are likely to be redshirt freshman Oliver Nelson or true freshman Noah Sonenstein at one center back spot, junior Kelvin Uribe at the other, and junior newcomer Stjepan Kilic, a transfer from Fairleigh Dickinson, as the left back. Another Division I transfer, Icelandic sophomore Jón Veigar Kristjánsson from USC Upstate, is the expected partner to Merrill in central midfield. Redshirt junior Andy Sartor, who sat out last season through injury, could play opposite Cordell. Much will be expected in their sophomore go-arounds from the speedy strike tandem of Brett Jones and Jonathan Sabouri (Carlsbad/San Dieguito HS Academy). Sophomore Pedro Enciso (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS) is the incumbent between the posts. Veterans in the mix include seniors Nathaniel Bloom (Encinitas/San Dieguito HS Academy) and Kiefer Cooksey, and junior Jonathan Stoop. Powers, Sabouri and Uribe all picked up All-CCAA honorable mentions last fall.
UC San Diego looks to bounce back from a peculiar 2017 season that saw several tough, dramatic victories and two solitary losses (10-2-5, 7-1-3 CCAA), only for it to be cut abruptly short ahead of the CCAA Tournament semifinals the Tritons were themselves hosting. The Tritons had wound up third in the final league table. However, Cal State Dominguez Hills was forced to vacate its regular-season title due to uncovered infractions, with UC San Diego moving up to second through adjustments made following the application of nullification penalties by the CCAA. All that was coming off the most successful season of the program's Division II era in 2016, as the treble winner of the CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and West Region championships, each for the first time. The Tritons have made five successive postseason appearances in the form of the CCAA Tournament, with NCAA Championship berths in 2013, 2014 and 2016. UC San Diego went an unbeaten 5-0-3 away from home in 2017.
HEAD COACH JON PASCALE
Jon Pascale, a three-time CCAA Coach of the Year (2012, 2013, 2016), has posted a 107-51-38 (.643) overall record to date in his 11th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 72-40-27 (.615) in arguably the toughest NCAA Division II conference in the nation, the CCAA. The Tritons have earned five successive berths in the CCAA Tournament, with trips to the NCAA Championship in 2013, 2014 and 2016. They have posted eight straight campaigns with an overall record of .500 or better, and eight winning seasons out of Pascale's 10. In 2016, he guided the Tritons to their very first CCAA regular-season, CCAA Tournament and Division II West Region titles, having joined in 2000. 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. The 1-0 home victory over Cal State San Marcos last Oct. 4 was career win No. 100.
ABOUT THE OTTERS
Cal State Monterey Bay (1-2, 0-0 CCAA) hits the road this week for the first time in 2018. The Otters are coming off their first win, a 3-1 home decision over Holy Names on Sunday evening behind freshman midfielder Matthew Lee's brace. They previously suffered tough defeats to Academy of Art, 1-0 in overtime, and Colorado School of Mines, 2-1 in double overtime. Shane Carew is in his second season in charge in Seaside.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 8-2-4. On Friday evening, the Tritons will look to exact a measure of revenge, as the scoreless tie in last year's regular-season finale in Seaside, cost them a repeat CCAA regular-season title. UC San Diego is still an unbeaten 7-0-4 in its last 11 against the Otters, with five of those seven wins of the one-goal variety, around 5-0 and 2-0 triumphs in Seaside in 2012 and 2016, respectively. The Tritons rallied from a 2-1 halftime deficit to edge out a 3-2 home victory on Oct. 9, 2015. They had won four straight over the Otters, including a come-from-behind 2-1 decision behind a late Andisheh Bagheri brace in La Jolla in 2013, prior to a scoreless draw in Seaside on Oct. 17, 2014.
ABOUT THE PIONEERS
Cal State East Bay (1-2, 0-0 CCAA) has started the new season with a pair of heavy defeats around a 1-0 home victory over Academy of Art last Thursday night. Senior forward Jonathan Ayala, a first-year transfer from Cal State Monterey Bay, notched that unassisted lone winner in the 79th minute. The Pioneers were routed 4-0 at Notre Dame de Namur in their opener, and 6-0 by Colorado School of Mines at home on Sunday afternoon. They play at undefeated Cal State San Marcos in their CCAA opener on Friday afternoon, prior to heading further south to La Jolla on Sunday. Mike Bielski is the third-year head coach.
UC San Diego has never lost to Cal State East Bay, posting 12 wins and a single draw in 13 prior meetings. The Tritons won 4-1 in Hayward last year, erasing a 1-0 deficit with then-freshman Jonathan Sabouri notching a hat trick in a span of just 12:02 around the halftime break. Before that, it was 3-0 in Hayward in 2016, 1-0 in La Jolla in 2015, 2-0 in La Jolla in 2014, and 2-0 in Hayward in 2013. The lone tie came in scoreless fashion in Hayward on Oct. 26, 2012. Prior to East Bay's first-half opener in the most recent meeting, the Tritons had not allowed a goal to the Pioneers over nine-plus matchups, a span totaling 847:56 going back to a 3-2 UC San Diego win in Hayward on Oct. 9, 2009. The Tritons are 10-0-1 against the Pioneers since East Bay joined the CCAA for the 2009 season, with prior games 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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This homestand continues next week as the Tritons round out the six-game non-conference schedule against CCAA rival Cal State San Marcos on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m., and Division III Occidental on Sunday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. This year's in-league matchup with CSUSM, which currently is an identical 4-0, will take place in San Marcos on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m., and will serve as UC San Diego's first road test of 2018.