TRITONS BEGIN NEW SEASON IN IRVINE AHEAD OF TOP-10 SHOWDOWN IN HOME OPENER
The No. 5 University of California San Diego women's soccer program starts its 2018 campaign with a non-conference pair this week. The Tritons make the short trip north to Irvine to face Concordia Irvine on Thursday, Aug. 30. They then await seventh-ranked rival Western Washingon in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 1, at Triton Soccer Stadium on North Campus in La Jolla. Both kickoff times are set for 3:30 p.m. UC San Diego and Western Washington have faced off for the last two West Region crowns, splitting those meetings, with the Tritons the reigning champions through a 2-0 home decision last Nov. 17 to cap a three-trophy year. UC San Diego went an unbeaten 13-0-1 at home in 2017, and enters Thursday on a 17-game (14-0-3) run without defeat overall.
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.
All UC San Diego home games in 2018 will feature a live pay-per-view video stream on UCSDtritons.tv. The cost is $5.99 for a 24-hour window, 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. Thursday's season opener in Irvine will have a free video stream. 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
• Preseason: 5
UC San Diego is 16-1-1 in season openers in the NCAA Division II era (since 2000), suffering its only such defeat in 2014 at Seattle Pacific. The Tritons have outscored their opponents, 10-1, in three consecutive wins since. They are 10-8 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) openers, with two straight wins after a 4-0 romp at Cal State San Marcos in 2016 and 3-0 home victory over Chico State last year.
Saturday's match versus Western Washington will feature two of the best forwards in the region, and indeed the entirety of Division II, in Triton star Mary Reilly and the Vikings' Gabriela Pelogi. Both are seniors. Reilly begins her fourth campaign with 33 career goals, just outside the top 11 in program history, with Pelogi at 36 tallies, sixth all-time at WWU. Reilly has gone for 11 goals, 13 and nine since her freshman season, with Pelogi producing 10, 11 and 15 markers since 2015.
CCAA FAVORITES FOR THIRD YEAR RUNNING
Two-time defending CCAA regular-season champion UC San Diego is again the favorite to retain its crown in the 2018 preseason coaches' poll. The Tritons, also the three-time reigning CCAA Tournament champions, accumulated 136 points and seven of a maximum 12 first-place votes. Coaches do not include their own team in the listing. UC San Diego went a perfect 12-0 during the 2016 CCAA season, and followed that up with an undefeated 10-0-1 ledger in 2017. The Tritons are the league's preseason favorites for the third year running. Sonoma State, whom UC San Diego topped in a thrilling 2017 CCAA final in La Jolla, 4-3, was second in the preseason poll with 129 points and five first-place votes. Cal State LA, the 2016 tourney finalist, was third (126) with the remaining first-place nod.
UC San Diego wound up an undefeated 13-0-1 at home in 2017. The Tritons were winners of 19 straight in La Jolla dating back to a 1-0 defeat to Colorado School of Mines on Sept. 11, 2016, when they played to a 1-1 draw with UC-Colorado Springs in last year's national quarterfinals before being eliminated via penalty-kick tiebreaker. Thirteen marked the Tritons' most home wins since going 15-1 in La Jolla in 2001 en route to winning their second straight Division II national title, at Triton Soccer Stadium. The only other times that UC San Diego has completed a home season unbeaten in its Divison II era, were 2006 (11-0-1), 2002 (9-0-1) and 2000 (12-0).
UC San Diego is an unbeaten 24-0-1 in its last 25 CCAA games and 32-0-2 over the last 34 matches against CCAA opposition, since a 1-0 loss at Sonoma State on Oct. 18, 2015. The Tritons had won 23 straight league matches prior to a 1-1 draw at Cal State East Bay last Oct. 26, and 29 straight games against CCAA foes before a scoreless tie at Cal State San Marcos last Oct. 21. UC San Diego has held a 78-11 scoring advantage and trailed in only three of those 34 matches. In 2016, the Tritons completed their league slate unbeaten and untied for the first time since joining the CCAA in 2000, at a perfect 12-0. It marked the first such effort by a CCAA squad since Sonoma State went 14-0 in 1998. UC San Diego went on to win both of its CCAA Tournament games, 2-0 and 1-0, to give it a 14-0 mark against CCAA foes, outscoring them 35-2 during the regular season and 38-2 overall. UC San Diego is the first team in CCAA women's history to post back-to-back unbeaten league slates. The current 25-game unbeaten run is a league record.
UC San Diego has surrendered just eight goals during this current 17-game unbeaten run (14-0-3) going back to last season, with the first one of those an own goal, and posted 11 shutouts ... The Tritons ended 2017 as winners of 11 straight one-goal decisions, finishing 12-1 in such games.
UC San Diego's 30-player 2018 roster has just three seniors in fourth-year team members Summer Bales, Megumi Barber and Mary Reilly, though Kelsey Kimball is a listed redshirt junior, also in her fourth year at the school ... Bales and Natalie Saddic are first-time team co-captains in 2018 ... Thirteen newcomers have joined the program, including 12 true freshmen ... Eight players are from San Diego, in Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS), Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS), Sydney Davey (La Jolla/La Jolla HS), Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Christina Oddone (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS), Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) ... Sophomore forwards Mia Bonifazi (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Alexis Kirson (Las Vegas, Nev.) are the only two Tritons from outside of California ... Kristin Jones (Oceanside HS), a two-time national champion and two-time All-American as one of the greatest players to ever come through the storied UC San Diego program, enters her 19th straight season as a Triton player or coach.
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 women's and two men'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 instances that UC San Diego has served as the host, the Triton women have won the event, in 2001, 2006, 2008 and 2017. The women's champion once again earn the CCAA's 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
UC San Diego will be led offensively and defensively by Mary Reilly (Chula Vista/Hilltop HS) and Natalie Saddic (San Diego/Torrey Pines HS), respectively. Reilly is back for a fourth and final season up top, with 33 career goals and as the CCAA's shots leader by a wide margin in each of her first three years. Reilly has added 19 assists for 85 total points as a Triton, and totaled 267 shots in all. Saddic should be back at her favored position of holding central midfielder after a rash of injuries forced her to center back for the 2017 postseason. The third-year transfer from UC Davis was a unanimous All-American, and the CCAA Defensive Player of the Year and CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Defensive Player last fall. Saddic and senior winger Summer Bales are the co-captains. Joining Bales and Reilly as fourth-year Tritons are forward Megumi Barber (San Diego/Mt. Carmel HS) and Kelsey Kimball, who is the expected starter at center back after sitting out the entire 2017 season through injury. Barber looks to be Reilly's new strike partner. True sophomores Delaney Whittet and Natalie Widmer return around Kimball at left and right back, respectively. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Angelica Ramos, the 2017 CCAA Newcomer of the Year, also is back from injury, with sophomore Katie Wilkes having taken over for the three NCAA Championship matches last November after Ramos left the CCAA final with a season-ending injury. Caitlin McCarthy (Carlsbad/Carlsbad HS) remains in central midfield, with fellow true sophomores and locals Michelle Baddour (San Diego/University City HS) and Maddy Samilo (Rancho Bernardo/Rancho Bernardo HS) vying for starting spots in central midfield and on the right wing, respectively. Baddour has taken over the No. 10 shirt.
UC San Diego went 17-2-3 overall and an unbeaten 10-0-1 in the CCAA a year ago. The season ended with a 17-game undefeated streak (14-0-3) as the Tritons played to a 1-1 home draw with UC-Colorado Springs in the national quarterfinals, and were eliminated via penalty-kick tiebreaker. That was after a second successive showdown with Western Washington in the West Region final, this one going to UC San Diego in front of the home crowd, 2-0, to complete its treble. The Tritons won the CCAA Tournament for a third straight and record 11th time, as the top-seeded host.
ABOUT THE EAGLES
Concordia Irvine (0-0) was picked to finish third in the 12-team Pacific West Conference (PacWest) in its preseason poll, earning three first-place votes. The program is in its second year of NCAA Division II Championship eligibility, with a previous affiliation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Sophomore forward Carmany Jones made the Preseason All-PacWest Team after leading the Eagles with nine goals as a rookie. Concordia went 9-6-2 overall, 8-4-1 in PacWest play and an impressive 6-1-1 at home in 2017. The Eagles, who placed fifth in the league table, play on a turf surface. Their director of soccer, Chris Gould, enters his 10th year in charge at his alma mater.
UC San Diego has won the only two previous meetings, 3-0 a year ago and 2-1 in overtime in both teams' 2015 season opener, both in La Jolla.
ABOUT THE VIKINGS
No. 7 Western Washington (0-0) is again the favorite to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). The Vikings went 18-2 overall and won their league tournament a year ago, edging host Concordia (OR) in the final, 1-0 in double overtime. They had previously seen an incredible 39-match win streak snapped by those same Cavaliers, on their Senior Day last Oct. 28. That gave Concordia (11-0-1) its first regular-season crown at WWU's expense. The Vikings won back-to-back West Region crowns before last year's defeat. They lost 3-2 to eventual threepeat national champion Grand Valley State in the 2015 semifinals, ahead of a first-ever national title for the program in 2016 in Kansas City, Mo. WWU in fact knocked off GVSU, 3-2, in a thrilling final. Travis Connell enters his 16th season at the helm. He has led the Vikings to six NCAA Championship berths in a row.
UC San Diego leads the all-time series, 6-3-1, and won the most recent clash, 2-0, in La Jolla in the 2017 West Region final behind exquisite solo-effort goals in either half of play by this year's starting senior strike tandem of Megumi Barber and Mary Reilly. The Tritons dropped the prior three meetings, including 2-1 in overtime in the 2016 West Region final in Golden, Colo., and 3-2 in Bellingham, Wash., in a regular-season matchup earlier that year on Sept. 14. The other loss was 1-0 in La Jolla on Sept. 7, 2013, with the goal coming at 88:52. The Tritons were ranked No. 3 that preseason, with WWU 12th. The then-23rd-ranked Vikings were edged, 2-1, by UC San Diego in the 2012 West Region final in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 16. Triton goals came from Ellen Wilson in the first half and fellow senior Gabi Hernandez 51 seconds into the first overtime period. Prior to 2013, WWU had not scored in three prior trips to La Jolla, resulting in Triton triumphs of 1-0 (2001), 4-0 (2006) and 5-0 (2009). The sides played to a scoreless draw in Bellingham to start the 2011 season, with UC San Diego returning from there with a 2-1 overtime triumph in 2008. The Vikings are 1-4 in La Jolla, having been outscored there, 12-1.
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UC San Diego flies to Hawaii this Sunday morning, Sept. 2, for a three-game non-conference trip on the island of Oahu. The Tritons will take on Division II foes Hawai'i Hilo and Hawai'i Pacific, around a Sept. 7 tilt with future Division I and Big West Conference opponent University of Hawai'i.