SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team opens a crucial week of Big West play with a match at Cal Poly on Wednesday and a home match against UC Riverside on Saturday. Wednesday's match is a must-win for the Hornets against the last-place Mustangs while Saturday's is equally important against a Highlanders team that enters the week tied with Sacramento State for fourth.
How To Watch
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 split last week's matches, going 1-1 in the second week of conference play. Last Wednesday, the Hornets defeated the visiting CSUN Matadors, 2-1. Abraham Rosales and Tone Andres each scored their first goal of the season in the win.
On Saturday, the Hornets were shut out at Cal State Fullerton, 1-0. It is the second time in their last two tries that Sacramento State has been held scoreless on the road.
Against Cal Poly
Sacramento State has faced the Cal Poly Mustangs 25 times dating back to the 1994 season, including twice a year in each of the last six seasons. All-time, the Mustangs lead the matchup 13-9-3. 14 of those matches have been held in San Luis Obispo, where the Hornets are just 4-10 against the Mustangs.
Last year, Sacramento State swept the Mustangs, 2-0, winning both at home and on the road. The Hornets first beat Cal Poly 3-2 in overtime at Cal Poly, their first win in SLO since 2014. They then dismantled the Mustangs, 5-1, in Sacramento later in the season. Despite trailing in the all-time series, the Hornets are 3-2 against the Mustangs in their last five contests.
Scouting the Mustangs
- The Cal Poly Mustangs enter this week with last in the conference with a 0-3-1 Big West record. They are 4-7-2 overall this season.
- Cal Poly has been better at home, where they are 3-2 this season, including a win over UC Santa Barbara on their annual Blue-Green Rivalry night.
- The Mustangs were picked last in the Big West preseason coaches poll.
- Cal Poly averages over 10 shots per game, but has scored just 12 total goals in 13 games. Four of those goals came in their first match of the year, a 4-1 win over Fresno Pacific.
- The Mustangs have been shut out six times this season, including in each of their last three games.
- Senior forward Sean Goode leads the team with nine total points. He has scored a team-high four goals while adding an assist.
- Senior keeper Simon Boehme is second in the Big West with an average of 4.17 saves per game (50 saves, 12 games).
Against UC Riverside
On Saturday, Sacramento State will take on the UC Riverside Highlanders for the 15th time since 2001. The Highlanders lead the all-time series, though it is very nearly even at 6-5-3. At Hornet Field, Sacramento State is 4-3-1 all-time against UC Riverside.
The teams faced each other just once last year, a match the Hornets won in Riverside, 2-1. It was the first time Sacramento State had ever won on the road in Riverside, moving them to 1-3-2 all-time at UCR Soccer Stadium. Over their last five matchups, the Hornets are 2-3 against the Highlanders.
Scouting the Highlanders
- The UC Riverside Highlands enter this week tied with Sacramento State with four points in conference. They are 2-2-0 in Big West play and 4-9-1 overall.
- Two of UCR's four wins have come on the road, where they are 2-5-1 this season. They average a goal per game away from UCR Soccer Stadium.
- The Highlanders were picked to finish seventh in the Big West, just one spot (two points) behind the Hornets.
- UC Riverside will take on the CSUN Matadors in Northridge on Wednesday before traveling north to Sacramento to face the Hornets.
- Sophomore midfielder Daniel Aguirre leads the Highlanders with nine total points, including four goals and one assist.
- Five different UCR players have scored two or more goals this season, including two who have scored three or more.
- Opponents are average nearly 2.5 goals per game against UC Riverside.
Saturday's match against UC Riverside is also the Hornets' 2018 Alumni Celebration game. The team will recognize former Hornets soccer players at halftime before hosting a postgame reception. Alumni interested in attending should contact Assistant Coach Pedro Lupercio (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Best Freshman in the Nation
Freshman forward Benji Kikanovic was named the 16th best freshman in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer over the weekend. He is the highest ranked freshman out of the Big West Conference.
Kikanovic leads the Hornets and is tied for fifth in the Big West with 14 total points this season. His five goals are tied for the team lead and tied for fifth in the conference.
ICYMI: @SacStMSoccer's Benji Kikanovic was ranked the 16th best freshman in the nation by @TopDrawerSoccer earlier this week. #StingersUp #MadeAtSacState— Hornet Athletics (@hornetsports) October 16, 2018
Full story: https://t.co/OPkrcWH6Lz pic.twitter.com/fmlBmdVPpW
Kikanovic is the second Hornet in the last two seasons named to the list, as current sophomore Justin Bedig was also named to Top Drawer Soccer's' Top 100 Freshmen last year, ranked 79th in the nation.
A Break from the Ranked
This week is the first for Sacramento State since Aug. 27 - Sep. 2 without a nationally or regionally ranked opponent. The Hornets have faced seven regionally or nationally ranked teams this season, including then #17 UC Davis and current #4 Saint Mary's.
Looking for Goals on the Road
The Hornets are still looking for their first goal against a Big West opponent on the road after being blanked at UC Irvine and at Cal State Fullerton. They have scored three goals in two home conference matches. Prior to their last two road games, Sacramento State was averaging nearly two goals per game on the road.
Making the Saves
Freshman keeper Ryan Curtis leads the Big West with 4.62 saves per game this season. He has 37 total saves in eight games. In conference play, Curtis has 26 saves in just four games (6.5 saves per game) and has allowed an average of one goal per game (four goals, four games). Between Curtis and Nick Kubler, the Hornets have made 62 total saves, second most in the league.
Sacramento State has had nine different players score a goal this season. Last year, 11 different players found the back of the net for the Hornets. 13 different players have tallied at least one point through the season's first 14 games.
State of the Conference
With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Big West Conference is still very much up in the air. While UC Irvine leads the league with 10 points, CSUN and Cal State Fullerton are tied for second with seven points, Sacramento State and UC Riverside are tied for fourth with six points, and UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara are tied for sixth with four points.
The top six teams at the end of the regular season qualify for the Big West Tournament.
Not A Lot of Shots
Sacramento State is seventh in the conference, averaging just 10.07 shots per game so far this year. Despite taking fewer shots than nearly every other team in the conference, the Hornets are fifth with 18 total goals scored. They have been successful in scoring when they have chances, turning 32% of their shots on goal into actual goals (18 goals, 57 SOG).