SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team opens Big West Conference play at home this Wednesday, Oct. 3 when they host the visiting UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Wednesday's conference kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 pm at Hornet Field. The Hornets follow Wednesday's match with their first road conference contest at UC Irvine on Saturday, Oct. 6.
How To Watch
Hornets vs. UC Santa Barbara
Wednesday, Oct. 3 // 4:00 PM
Sacramento, Calif. // Hornet Field
Live Video: BigWest.TV
Live Stats: HornetStats.com
All links, news, and updates can also be found by visiting the 2018 Men's Soccer Schedule online at HornetSports.com.
About Last Week
Sacramento State fell in their lone match last week, 2-1 in overtime at UC Davis.
The Aggies were ranked 17th in the nation last week (they enter this week at No. 16) as they hosted the Hornets on Saturday. Although Benji Kikanovic put Sacramento State ahead 1-0 early in the second half, the Aggies rallied for a late-game equalizer before sneaking past for the win in overtime.
Against UC Santa Barbara
Sacramento State has faced the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos 22 times dating back to 1992, including twice a year for the last six seasons. All-time, the Gauchos lead the matchup 14-4-4. 10 of those 22 matches have been played at Hornet Field where the Hornets trail 3-6-1.
Last year, Sacramento State fell at home to the Gauchos, 2-1, before battling to a draw later in the season in Santa Barbara. It was the second straight draw in Santa Barbara between the two teams.
Scouting the Gauchos
- The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos enter this week with the conference's third best record at 6-4-0. Last season, they finished second in the now defunct Big West North Division with a 6-8-5 (4-3-3 Big West) record.
- UC Santa Barbara is just 1-4 on the road this year compared to 5-0 at home.
- The Gauchos were picked to finish second in the Big West in the coaches' preseason poll. They received 55 points and three first place votes.
- Coming into Wednesday night's match, UC Santa Barbara is averaging 1.3 goals per game while allowing 0.7.
- UC Santa Barbara is led by sophomore forward Rodney Michael, who has a team-high six goals and an assist for 13 total points. Michael has already been named the league's offensive player of the week once this season.
- UC Santa Barbara comes into Wednesday as the No. 7 team in the Far West Region as voted by United Soccer Coaches. They have been regionally ranked in four of six weeks, reaching as high as No. 3.
Against UC Irvine
Sacramento State will take on the UC Irvine Anteaters for the 19th time since the 1994 season. UC Irvine leads the all-time series by one, 8-7-3. On the road, the Hornets are 4-6-0 against the Anteaters. They have not played in Irvine since the 2016 season, when they won, 2-1.
Last year, the Hornets hosted UC Irvine. The two teams each scored three goals, ultimately playing to a draw. It was the first draw between the Hornets and Anteaters since 2008.
Scouting the Anteaters
- The UC Irvine Anteaters enter this week with a 6-4-1 record, good for fifth in the Big West. Last season, Irvine played to an 8-8-3 (3-5-2 Big West) record while missing the playoffs.
- The Anteaters were picked to finish fifth in the conference, just one spot ahead of Sacramento State.
- UC Irvine will play at UC Riverside on Wednesday before hosting the Hornets in Irvine on Saturday.
- The Anteaters have been excellent at home, playing to a 4-1 record while outscoring their opponents 12-3 in Irvine.
- Overall, Irvine is averaging 1.7 goals per game while allowing just one.
- Junior forward Jose Ortiz leads the team with a team-high six goals and one assist for 13 total points. In addition to Ortiz, four other Anteaters have scored at least two goals.
UC Santa Barbara enters this week ranked seventh in the Far West Region. They have been regionally ranked in four of six weeks this season, reaching as high as No. 3 in the region. For the Hornets, UCSB is their sixth opponent to be either nationally or regionally ranked.
Wednesday's match against UCSB is the first Big West conference matchup of the season for both teams. Last year, the Hornets finished with a 4-4-2 conference record while the Gauchos played to a 4-3-3 mark. Non-conference records have no bearing on conference finishes.
The Big West has moved from a two-division conference to a no-division conference. Different from last year is that each team will play each other team only once. At the end of the season, the eight-team conference's top six teams will advance to the Big West tournament.
Off On the Right Foot
Sacramento State has won its last two Big West openers, 1-0 over CSUN last season and 2-1 over UC Irvine in 2016. Since joining the Big West, the Hornets are 3-3 in their first league game of the season.
Kikanovic Receives Honorable Mention
Top Drawer Soccer included freshman forward Benji Kikanovic as an Honorable Mention for their national Team of the Week. Kikanovic was recognized after scoring Sacramento State's lone goal against #17 UC Davis. Kikanovic was named to the national team of the week earlier this season.
Often in Overtime
The Hornets' overtime loss at #17 UC Davis was their first loss in extra time this season. Entering last Saturday, the Hornets were 2-0-2 in four overtime contests with wins at both CSU Bakersfield (5-4, 1OT) and San Francisco (3-2, 1OT).
Many Many Minutes
With five overtime matches so far this season, Sacramento State is playing an average of 95:48 minutes per match.
Sacramento State is winless at home this year (0-3). Last season, the Hornets performed better on the road, as well, posting a 4-4-1 away record compared to a 3-5-1 mark at Hornet Field.
Benji Kikanovic leads the Hornets and is fourth in the Big West Conference with 12 total points so far this season (five goals, two assists). Dom Scotti is second on the squad with 10 points (five goals), tied for sixth in the conference.
In addition to being among the top 10 in the Big West in points, Benji Kikanovic and Dom Scotti are tied for fourth in the conference in goals. Scotti's 0.62 goals per game is the second best mark in the Big West. Kikanovic (0.50) is sixth.
Second Half Strong
The Hornets have been more aggressive in nearly every offensive category in the second half this season. They have scored more goals in the second half compared to the first half (8-5), taken more shots (56-34), and taken more corner kicks (28-11). In overtime, Sacramento State has added another two goals and 10 shots, though they have just three overtime corner kicks.
With last Sunday's win at San Francisco, head coach Mike Linenberger is now just one win shy of his 200th career win. He has accumulated a record of 199-292-63 as a head coach, including a mark of 42-63-18 during a six-plus year period in the Big West. Linenberger has guided the Hornets to the Big West Tournament in each of the last two seasons.