MEN'S SOCCER OPENS INAUGURAL BIG WEST CONFERENCE SLATE ON THE ROAD THIS WEEKEND
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team will play its first ever games as a member of the Big West Conference this weekend when the Hornets hit the road for matches at UC Irvine and CSU Northridge.
The Hornets (3-4-1) will meet the Anteaters (3-5-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday before battling the Matadors (6-3-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
You can follow both of the Hornets' road matches online this weekend. UC Irvine offers free LIVE STATS while CSU Northridge has free LIVE STATS and a free AUDIO BROADCAST.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS
Sacramento State is coming off a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against UNLV on Sunday. Isaac Ikyurav scored the Hornets's first goal of the game and then fired home the game-winning goal in the 95th minute. Ikyruav, who had not scored this season, tallied three goals and one assist last year in his first season with the Hornets. Overall this season, Sacramento State has scored nine goals on 95 shots while allowing 15 scores on 123 attempts. The Hornets' home/road splits are staggering, with 10 goals allowed in three road games but just five goals surrendered in five home games. Sacramento State is 3-1-1 at home this year and 0-3-0 on the road. Gabe Silveira, who had a penalty kick goal on Sunday versus UNLV, has a team-best three scores this year while four players have a team-high two assists. Keeper Bryan Oliver has started every game since the Hornets lost 4-0 at Oregon State in the season-opener on Aug. 24. Oliver has 39 saves with a 1.51 goals against average and a 3-3-1 record in his seven starts.
SCOUTING THE ANTEATERS
UC Irvine, which has won back-to-back Big West Conference regular season titles, is coming off a pair of one-goal losses to Gonzaga and Oregon State at the OSU Nike Classic in Corvallis, Ore. The 'Eaters were ranked No. 13 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll after posting a 16-6-1 record in 2011 but have struggled this season. UC Irvine is on a six-match winless streak (0-5-1) but did play two top-10 teams (No. 9 UCLA, No. 4 New Mexico) and just one home game in that stretch. Overall, UC Irvine has scored 12 goals on 143 shots while allowing 12 scores on 119 attempts. Gor Kirakosyan and Cameron Iwasa each have a team-best three scores while Kirakosyan leads the 'Eaters with two assists. Goalkeeper Michael Breslin has started all nine games with 42 saves and a 1.30 goals against average.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
The Matadors have been the league's best offensive team through the non-conference portion of the 2012 season. CSU Northridge leads the Big West in goals (22), points (65) and shots (168). Forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the conference and ranks No. 3 in the NCAA with nine goals (no other player in the Big West has more than six). The Haifa, Isreal native was named Big West Conference player of the week following his three goal performance last weekend in wins over San Diego and Air Force. Lev-Ari isn't CSUN's only threat, however, as Edwin Rivas ranks No. 1 in the league in shots (39) and is tied with teammate Beto Velasquez for third in the Big West with five goals. As a team, the Matadors have scored 22 goals on 168 shots while allowing eight scores on 97 attempts. Goalie Michael Abalos has started eight of nine games this year and has a 1.00 goals against average with 24 saves.
LAST TIME OUT
The last time Sacramento State met UC Irvine was in 2010, when the Hornets upset the No. 10 ranked Anteaters, 2-0. Cousins Chris Bettencourt and Adam Bettencourt each scored for the Hornets while then-freshman Cesar Castillo, who is now backing up Oliver, made seven saves in the clean sheet win. The last time Sacramento State met CSUN was in 2008 when the Hornets lost, 2-1.
Sacramento State enters this weekend's games with a 4-5-2 all-time record against UC Irvine and a 2-9 mark against CSU Northridge.
BIG WEST PRIMER
When the Hornets joined the Big West Conference this season, it allowed the league to split into two four-team divisions. The North Division is made up of Sacramento State, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The South Division features UC Riverside, UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton and CSU Northridge. Each team plays two games (home and away) against its own division foes and one game against the opposite division. The top two teams from each division will qualify for the Big West Tournament.
LEAVING THE MPSF
Sacramento State was a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for 20 seasons before leaving for the Big West this year. The Hornets, which moved to Div. I in 1991, joined the MPSF the following season. The 1992 season was also head coach Michael Linenberger's first year as the sole head coach of men's soccer program - he shared head coach duties with Paul Arellanes during the 1989, 1990 and 1991 seasons. Linenberger was named MPSF Coach of the Year in 2001, 2005 and 2009. He guided the Hornets to regular season MPSF titles in 2001 and 2009 and MPSF Tournament championships in 2009 and 2010. In both 2009 and 2010, Sacramento State moved on from the league tournament to win NCAA tournament first-round matches. (At Loyola Marymount in 2009 and home vs. Santa Clara in 2010).
BIG WEST STANDINGS
The Big West features two nationally ranked teams and each leads its respective division. Undefeated UC Santa Barbara checks in at No. 3 in the NSCAA top-25 poll for the second straight week while UC Riverside dropped from No. 19 to No. 24 this week.
||Big West Record||Overall Record|
|1. #3 UC Santa Barbara
|2. Cal Poly||0-0||5-3-0|
|3. UC Davis||0-0||2-3-4|
|4. Sacramento State||0-0||3-4-1|
|South Division||Big West Record||Overall Record|
|1. #24 UC Riverside||0-0||7-1-0|
|2. CSU Northridge||0-0||6-3-0|
|3. CSU Fullerton||0-0||4-6-0|
|4. UC Irvine||0-0||3-5-1|