SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After battling for a 1-1 tie Wednesday night at UC Santa Barbara, Sacramento State (6-5-2, 2-2-1 Big West) hosts Causeway rival UC Davis (6-6-2, 2-3-0 Big West) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Hornet Field. The Hornets have a one-point lead over the Aggies for second place in the Big West North division, with the teams to play again next Saturday in Davis.
All Sacramento State faculty, staff, and students - along with a guest - will receive FREE admission to Saturday's game with a valid OneCard.
Sacramento State is undefeated (2-0-2) against Causeway rival UC Davis over the last two seasons. In each of the last two years the Hornets went 1-0-1 against the Aggies, having last lost to them in October 2013. Over the last four meetings the Hornets have allowed just three UCD goals with two shutouts. Sacramento State earned a 1-0 home win in the last game between the teams in 2015.
Scouting UC Davis (6-6-2, 2-3-0 Big West)
UC Davis had the same record as the Hornets (2-2-0) against the Big West South before taking a 2-1 loss at Cal Poly on Wednesday. The Aggies began the year 4-2-2 but are 2-4-0 in their last six games. UC Davis leads the Big West with a 1.10 goals against average, having allowed just 16 goals in 14 games this year, and leads the league with five shutouts. The Aggies are allowing only 10 shots per game with just 3.8 shots on goal per game permitted and goalkeeper Armando Quezada has a Big West leading 1.08 goals against average despite just a .682 save percentage. Noah Wilson leads the team offensively with four goals and two assists and Kristian Heptner has four goals and one assist and is tied for the Big West lead with three game-winning goals.
Big West Breakdown
Sacramento State has a one point lead over UC Davis for second place in the North division with seven points. The Hornets are four points behind UC Santa Barbara and have a three-point lead over last place Cal Poly. The four teams we'll face each of the other teams in the division twice over the next three weeks, with the top three teams in the final division standings qualifying for the Big West Tournament.
The 1-1 tie between Sacramento State and UC Santa Barbara Wednesday night at Harder Stadium marked the first time the Hornets earned a point in Santa Barbara since joining the Big West in 2011. Perennially one of the toughest road venues in all of NCAA Div. I, the Hornets had been just 1-8-1 all-time at Harder with the only win in 1992 and the lone tie in 1998.
Sacramento State is 8-3-2 on Hornet Field over its last 13 matches and the team has a home win over a ranked team in two consecutive seasons. The 2016 squad has tallied 10 goals through its first six home games of the season to start 4-1-1.
On a Roll
Sacramento State had a five-game unbeaten streak through the end of September and is 5-2-2 over its last nine games after starting the season 1-3-0. In the last nine games the Hornets have scored 13 goals, scoring nine of the 13 goals in the first half to get off to strong starts.
Sacramento State's senior class, which totals 10 players, has tallied 13 of the team's 15 goals this year. Seniors Alex Bettencourt, Nate Nugen, and Ivan Ramirez have combined for 34 of the team's 48 points this season, with Bettencourt tallying five goals and Nugen and Ramirez scoring four.
In the September 27 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Far West region poll Sacramento State was ranked No. 8. The team defeated two of the other teams in the regional ranking, No. 7 Portland and No. 9 Loyola Marymount. The ranking was the first the Hornets have received in the regional poll since the 2011 season.
Senior forward Alex Bettencourt is tied for the Big West lead and tied for 14th in NCAA Div. I with three game-winning goals. He scored the game winner in each of the first three Hornet wins of the year, including a winner in the 90th minute against Portland. He scored his fourth goal of the year in Sacramento State's 3-2 upset of No. 15 Utah Valley and got the Hornet goal off a free kick in the 1-1 draw at UC Santa Barbara.
Two Will Do
The Hornets are undefeated this year and 12-2-1 since 2014 when scoring two or more goals. The team has been able to win when scoring just one goal as well, as it did this year in victories over Loyola Marymount and Cal State Fullerton and in four more 1-0 wins over the last two seasons.
Junior goalkeeper James Del Curto matched the NCAA Div. I single game high this season with 14 saves in Sacramento State's 2-1 win at UC Irvine. He notched eight saves in the first half and six in the second half to tie his career high, which was set last year in a similar win over the Anteaters in Sacramento. For the effort he earned his second Big West Defensive Player of the Week honor of the season.
Ivan on Fire
Ivan Ramirez was named Big West Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 26 after tallying three goals and an assist to lead the Hornets to the Copa De Causeway crown. He had a hand in all three Hornet goals in the 3-2 upset of #15 Utah Valley, scoring the first and third goals and assisting on the second. He also tallied the lone Hornet goal on a PK in the 1-1 draw vs. Saint Mary's. Over a three game stretch, starting with the San Jose State game on Sept. 18, the senior midfielder had four goals and two assists for 10 points.
Four Straight Players of the Week
The Hornets had a Big West Player of the Week honor in four consecutive weeks. James Del Curto earned his first on Sept. 12 before seniors Alex Bettencourt and Ivan Ramirez took home the Offensive Player of the Week honor over the next two weeks. Del Curto picked up his second Defensive honor Oct. 3.
Raise the Copa
Sacramento State won the semi-annual Copa De Causeway tournament, upsetting No. 15 Utah Valley, 3-2, and tying Saint Mary's, 1-1. The Hornets were the only team in the tournament, which also included UC Davis, that did not lose a game. Seniors Ivan Ramirez, Alex Bettencourt, and Argenis Ramos and junior Paul Geyer were named to the all-Tournament team.
Living Out West
Sacramento State's eight non-conference games were against teams from just two "west" conferences, the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the West Coast Conference (WCC). Following the season opener at WAC school CSU Bakersfield the Hornets played four straight games against schools from the West Coast Conference. The team then played two more WAC opponents and wrapped up with WCC member Saint Mary's. The Hornets also faced a sixth WCC team, Santa Clara, in a preseason exhibition game. Sacramento State finished 2-1-0 against the WAC and 2-2-1 against the WCC schools.
Sacramento State plays the entire 2016 season in the state of California. All 18 games will be played in the Golden State and 16 of the 18 contests are against other California teams. The only outliers were two Hornet home games, against Portland and Utah Valley. All 26 players on the Hornet roster went to high school in California.
A Veteran Squad
Sacramento State has 10 seniors and six juniors on its 2016 roster, among the most veteran sides for coach Michael Linenberger in his 28 seasons with the program. The team returned nine starters from last season, five of which are now seniors and three of which are juniors. The Hornets returned 17 total letter winners, having lost just three seniors in 2015.
Sophomore Brad Bumgarner earned some preseason accolades as he was named to the Preseason all-Big West team. As a redshirt freshman last season Bumgarner was named to the Freshman all-Big West team after leading the Hornets and tying for second in the league with seven goals and three game-winning goals. Bumgarner scored on three of his first four career shots on goal and totaled four goals and one assist in Big West play.
The men's soccer program became the first team from Sacramento State to travel internationally, going for a nine-day trip to Costa Rica this past January. The team played four games against professional Costa Rican teams and went 2-1-1 with an aggregate score of 7-4. The group, comprised of 22 student-athletes and six staff members, also toured the country and participated in community service events during a memorable visit.