TRITONS FINALLY FACE FIRST ROAD TESTS OF 2018
The now-ninth-ranked University of California San Diego men's soccer team finally goes on the road for the first time this season, having wrapped up its 10-match season-opening homestand, the longest in known program history. The third-place Tritons (9-0-1, 3-0-1 CCAA) continue California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play at city rival Cal State San Marcos (6-2-1, 2-1-1 CCAA) on Wednesday, Oct. 3, with kickoff slated for 3 p.m. at The Cage. They then depart San Diego County for the first time this weekend and play at San Francisco State on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2:05 p.m., in a nationally-televised contest. Both matches will cap doubleheaders with the No. 1-ranked, also-unbeaten UC San Diego women, who are an identical 9-0-1 overall. Parking is free in San Marcos on Wednesday, in the gravel lot adjacent to the field.
In the CCAA's preseason poll, UC San Diego was picked third, Cal State San Marcos 12th and San Francisco State fifth among 13 squads. The Tritons and Gators each earned one first-place vote. The Tritons are the only unbeaten team left in the conference for overall games. UC San Diego is the only school in Division II with both soccer teams in the top 10 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. By University policy, pets are not allowed at Triton Soccer Stadium, with the exception of service animals.
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. Both road games this week have live video broadcasts, for free. 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). You can also check out in-match Instagram stories during home dates on the UC San Diego Athletics account (@ucsdtritons). Finally, check out the CCAA live scoreboard here to keep up on results around the league.
TRITONS ON NATIONAL TELEVISION SUNDAY!
No. 9 UC San Diego's match at San Francisco State this Sunday, Oct. 7, will be televised to a national audience by ELEVEN SPORTS, with kickoff set for approximately 2:05 p.m. at Cox Stadium on the SFSU campus. ELEVEN SPORTS is available in 55 million homes on national cable systems such as AT&T U-verse (channel 1665), DIRECTV (channel 623) and Verizon Fios (channel 597). ELEVEN can be found on various other cable and over-the-top (OTT) providers such as fuboTV, Google Fiber 251, RCN 571, Atlantic Broadband 501 and Hawaiian Telcom 1091. The game will also be available online at BAOSN.tv.
UC SAN DIEGO IN THE UNITED SOCCER COACHES POLL
• Oct. 2: 9 (2nd in West)
• Sept. 25: 13 (3rd in West)
• Sept. 18: 23 (4th in West)
• Sept. 11: 14 (2nd in West)
• Sept. 4: RV (4th in West)
• Preseason: NR
A LOOK BACK AT LAST WEEK
UC San Diego blanked Sonoma State in front of a season-high crowd of 506 in primetime last Friday night, and then downed visiting Humboldt State on Sunday afternoon, 3-1. Nathaniel Bloom notched both game-winners, heading in the opener against the Seawolves late in the first half, with the pinpoint cross coming from Matt Davis. Andy Sartor later scored his second in as many games. Christian Cordell got on the end of Kiefer Cooksey's cross to get things going early against the Jacks, with Bloom again hitting the target just before halftime. Jonathan Sabouri provided the clincher after stellar work in the left corner by Hunter Fields. Pedro Enciso kept his fifth clean sheet on Friday, and was credited with a career-high seven saves on Sunday.
BLOOM NAMED CCAA PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Nathaniel Bloom was named Tuesday as the CCAA Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 24-30. Bloom tallied both game-winning goals as UC San Diego swept a home weekend. Having last scored as a true freshman on Sept. 8, 2015, Bloom headed in the 42nd-minute opener against Sonoma State on Friday night, in a 2-0 shutout. He then provided another late first-half goal Sunday against Humboldt State to make it 2-0, in what ended as a 3-1 decision for the Tritons. The times of the goals were 41:37 and 41:04. Bloom produced those goals on his only two shot attempts for the weekend. Bloom is the first UC San Diego men's soccer player to earn CCAA Player of the Week distinction since another senior, winger Christian Cordell, picked up the 2016 season's final award on Nov. 1, 2016, after his historic 89th-minute goal at Cal Poly Pomona to give the Tritons their first CCAA regular-season title in program history.
At 9-0-1, this is UC San Diego's best 10-game start under 11th-year head coach Jon Pascale, and in fact its best in three decades, since the 1988 squad also came out 9-0-1. That team went on to the program's first of three national championships. Those Tritons got to 10-0-1 prior to another draw, and wound up posting a program-best mark of 23-0-2.
UC San Diego is 72-22-18 (.723) at Triton Soccer Stadium under Jon Pascale, and 28-2-5 (.871) over its last 35 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, on Sept. 15, 2017. 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.
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 a season-best 11th (0.571). They are fourth in the West Region and third in the CCAA. UC San Diego was 17th (0.76) a year ago, allowing 14 goals in all after 248:31 of shutout soccer for openers. It led the CCAA and was second in the West Region. The team surrendered 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).
Fifth-year senior Matt Merrill's first collegiate goal was a sight to behold, serving as the dramatic, 80th-minute winner in a come-from-behind, 2-1 home decision over Cal State Monterey Bay in the CCAA opener on Sept. 14. The Mission Viejo product one-timed sophomore forward Brett Jones' left-sided corner kick into the upper right corner, off the crossbar and in, with his right foot from outside of 25 yards. Click here to view the stunner.
UC San Diego is 11-0-20 in overtime contests since its last such loss in 2014. Eight of its 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 have played four overtime contests in 2018, including three straight from Sept. 16-23, going 3-0-1. Those outcomes were a 1-0 victory over Concordia Irvine (9/6), a scoreless draw with Cal State East Bay (9/16), a 3-2 defeat of city rival Cal State San Marcos (9/21), and a 1-0 double-overtime decision against Occidental (9/23). The decider against Concordia came off the right foot of fifth-year senior Christian Cordell with a single tick left in the first session, officially at 99:59. Watch the incredible sequence that began with seven seconds remaining on the clock, here. Also view Jonathan Stoop's overtime winner of CSUSM here, and Andy Sartor's decider against Oxy here.
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.
Three Triton newcomers have tallied the first goal of their collegiate careers, 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 defenders Darragh Buckley and Oliver Nelson have all made their first college appearances.
The Tritons have yet to surrender a first-half goal in 2018 ... Both of sophomore forward Brett Jones' collegiate braces (two-goal games) have come against crosstown rival CSUSM ... Redshirt junior winger Andy Sartor rescued UC San Diego with this left-footed blast from just inside 25 yards, with 5:27 remaining in the second overtime session to dispatch Occidental (9/23) ... UC San Diego is 13-3-3 in season openers in the Division II era (since 2000) following a 1-0 shutout over Biola on Aug. 30, and is an unbeaten 4-0-2 over its last six lid-lifters ... The Tritons are 10-7-2 in CCAA openers, having snapped a two-match losing skid (1-0 at CSUSM in 2016 and 2-0 vs. Chico State in 2017), with a 2-1 triumph vs. Cal State Monterey Bay on Sept. 14.
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 112-51-39 (.651) overall record to date in his 11th year in charge of the UC San Diego men's soccer program. He is 75-40-28 (.622) 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. The 1-0 overtime win at home over Occidental on Sept. 25 marked Pascale's 200th game at the helm.
ABOUT THE COUGARS
Cal State San Marcos (6-2-1, 2-1-1 CCAA) is in its fourth year as a CCAA member, eligible for the postseason for the second time. The Cougars won six straight for starters in 2018, all by one-goal margins with the last five at home, to earn their first-ever NCAA national ranking, at No. 19. They were picked to place 12th in the CCAA preseason poll. CSUSM is a winless 0-2-1, however, over its last three, beginning with a 3-2 overtime loss at UC San Diego on Sept. 21. Redshirt junior Justin Tesar has played every minute in the Cougar net. Ron Pulvers is in his 13th season in charge.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 7-2, and won the earlier non-conference matchup, 3-2 in overtime, at home on Sept. 21. The Tritons swept last year's meetings, 1-0 in the CCAA matchup at home on Oct. 4, and 3-2 in a non-league, double-overtime thriller in San Marcos on Oct. 20. The initial victory came thanks to a long-distance strike by Jonathan Sabouri in the 61st minute. Brett Jones notched the decider in the return leg with just 4:26 left in the second extra period. The Tritons dropped a tough 1-0 decision in their prior visit to San Marcos, for both teams' 2016 CCAA opener, through a rebound finish at 59:52 by Andrew Stalboerger. UC San Diego posted shutout home victories in each of the previous two seasons. The Tritons won 4-0 in 2014 via two goals in each half, and then 1-0 in the first CCAA meeting in 2015 on a 76th-minute Eric Young header. The sides faced off in 2009, UC San Diego registering a 1-0 home win in the season opener. The series was witness to a thriller in La Jolla on Sept. 5, 2008. The Cougars began the scoring with a penalty kick at 84:31. UC San Diego equalized at 86:19, and stole it with a winner 36 seconds from the end of regulation. CSUSM took a 3-2 decision in La Jolla on Sept. 21, 2007.
ABOUT THE GATORS
San Francisco State (5-2-3, 2-2-2 CCAA) ended UC San Diego's 2017 campaign with a 1-0 upset in La Jolla in the first round of the CCAA Tournament. It was a first postseason berth since 1978 for the Gators, who are an unbeaten 2-0-2 in San Francisco in 2018, and host Cal State San Marcos on Friday before Sunday's matchup with the Tritons. San Francisco State posted a pair of shutouts at home last week, tying then-eighth-ranked Cal State LA, 0-0, on Friday afternoon, before routing Cal State Dominguez Hills on Sunday, 3-0. Former Cal standout and assistant coach Javier Ayala-Hil, the 2017 CCAA Coach of the Year, is in his third year in charge at San Francisco State.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 11-6-5. The teams drew 1-1 in La Jolla in the 2017 regular season, on Senior Night on Oct. 6. Malek Bashti and Tariq Pulskamp traded late goals over the final 10:07 of regulation that night. That was before a 1-0 Gator triumph in the first round of the CCAA Tournament, also in La Jolla. The 2016 meeting in San Francisco saw the Tritons rally from 1-0 down to win, 2-1. They did that seven times on the year. Justice Duerksen (78:57) and Uly de la Cal (81:08) scored the goals. The 2015 match ended as a scoreless draw in La Jolla. UC San Diego fell 2-0 in 2014 in San Francisco. The Tritons were 2-1 victors at home in 2013. In 2012, UC San Diego won 1-0 in La Jolla before the sides played to a goalless stalemate in San Francisco. The teams faced each other twice in 2011 as well, as fellow members of the CCAA South, with the Tritons pulling off a sweep. UC San Diego was an unbeaten 6-0-2 against San Francisco State over eight matchups prior to 2014.
This 2018 season marks the UC San Diego men's soccer program's 30th anniversary of its very first NCAA Division III national championship in 1988, and 25th anniversary of its third and final crown in 1993. The 1988 team will be recognized during UC San Diego Homecoming weekend, Oct. 19-21. All-time leading goal-scorer Greg Schwarz (1983-87) will be inducted into the UC San Diego Athletics Hall of Fame that weekend as well, becoming the fourth member of the men's soccer program to be so honored, after Chris Romey (Class of 2014), Brian Siljander (2015) and legendary former head coach Derek Armstrong (2017).
On Nov. 27, 2017, UC San Diego was officially invited to become a member of the NCAA Division I Big West Conference. The Tritons will begin a four-year reclassification period starting in the fall of 2020. They will play a full Big West schedule that season and will be eligible for the NCAA Championship in men's volleyball, men's and women's water polo, and fencing. For the 2024-25 academic year, all sports will be eligible to compete in Big West and NCAA Division I championships. Read the full press release here.
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UC San Diego rounds out this season-long four-game road stretch next week, at Cal State San Bernardino on Friday, Oct. 12, at 12:30 p.m., and at rival Cal Poly Pomona, the reigning West Region champion, on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 11:30 a.m.
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 36 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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For complete coverage and information regarding UC San Diego Athletics, follow the Tritons online at UCSDtritons.com and through social media on Twitter (@UCSDtritons), Instagram (@ucsdtritons) and Facebook (UCSDtritons). For more information on UC San Diego Men's Soccer, follow on Instagram (@ucsdmenssoccer) and Facebook (UCSanDiegoMensSoccer).