Men's Soccer Division Races Tighten Up
Men's Soccer Release No. 9
First place and last place is separated by a mere two points in the South Division, and three teams are within three points of the North Division lead. The men's soccer race enters the final two weeks of the regular season.
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Division Races Heating Up
Only four games remain in the Big West men’s soccer regular season, and both divisional races are tight.
UC Davis is the leader in the North Division with 13 points. The Aggies are 4-1-1 against conference opponents, including three wins by shutout. They are seeking to snap UC Santa Barbara’s four-year run on North Division titles. In fact, it was UC Davis that won the 2012 crown in the first year the two divisions were created. The Aggies host Cal Poly while the Gauchos travel to third place Sacramento State, which is right there in the hunt on 10 points. With 11 points, UCSB welcomes UC Davis to Harder Stadium on Saturday in what could be a showdown for first. The Aggies look to win three straight against UCSB for the first time in school history.
The South Division is even more congested. UC Irvine and CSUN are currently co-leaders on eight points with identical 2-2-2 marks. The Matadors upended the Anteaters, 3-2, on Saturday in Northridge. Those same two clubs meet in a rematch this Saturday in Irvine. But first, CSUN and UCI host UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, respectively. The Titans are a mere one point behind the leaders at 2-3-1, while the Highlanders have collected six points, winning two of their last three Big West games after an 0-10 start to the season.
Nip And Tuck
The recent history in the UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara suggests that the matchup will be a close one, although the Aggies engineered a 3-0 victory on Oct. 11. Prior to that game, the two teams had played in 11 straight games that had ended either in draw or by a one-goal margin. The Aggies are one of the few programs which have managed to slow UCSB in Big West play. Consider that, since 2012, the Gauchos are 33-11-12 in regular season conference games. UC Davis has accounted for five of those 11 losses during that span.
UC Davis ranks second in goals scored (24) among Big West squads, and contributions have come from everywhere on the roster. Fifteen different Aggies have tallied a goal this season, including eight players who have registered his first career goal.
Anteater Offense Revving Up
UC Irvine has featured one of the nation’s more potent offenses this season. The Anteaters are tied for eighth nationally in goals (30), tied for third in assists (36) and seventh in points (96). The ‘Eaters had a 6-0-1 record in games in which they scored two or more goals, until they faced CSUN last Saturday. The Matadors found their offensive rhythm in a 3-2 victory. CSUN had scored just three goals over a seven-game stretch prior to the outburst.
Shaffer Reaches Milestone
In Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over Causeway Cup rival Sacramento State, UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer collected his 50th career Big West win. Shaffer is 50-41-17 against Big West competition over 10-plus years of coaching in the league.
Five of the eight conference members currently have seven wins.
• UC Irvine senior Giovanni Godoy has been on a goal scoring spree of late. The forward has three braces in the last five games, including back-to-back two-goal efforts last week against UC Riverside and CSUN. He has scored seven goals in six Big West games to lead all players in that category.
• UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly played to a scoreless draw in front of 10,293 fans at Harder Stadium on Saturday – the 21st largest crowd figure in NCAA regular season history. That attendance figure marked the largest NCAA men’s soccer crowd in 2017. Since the beginning of the 2017 season, 19 of the top 53 regular season crowd figures in NCAA history have occurred in matches between Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara.
• The Big West has won eight non-conference games against 2016 NCAA Tournament teams this year. Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara defeated Portland, while CSUN and UC Irvine knocked off Denver. The Mustangs also have a win over San Diego State. The Gauchos toppled Pacific. Cal State Fullerton upended Vermont and UNLV.
• The Big West has defeated four nationally ranked teams this season. CSUN and UC Irvine downed then-No. 9 Denver on the same weekend. UC Santa Barbara earned a win over then-No. 14 Pacific. CSUN also owns a victory over then No. 18 Utah Valley.
• The North Division finished with an 8-5-3 record against the South Division after two weeks of interdivisional play. The North is now 50-34-12 all-time versus the South since divisional play began in 2012.