September 19, 2012

Non-Conference Schedule Concludes With Air Force, San Diego

THIS WEEK...
Air Force at Cal State Fullerton

Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 | 7 p.m.
Titan Stadium (10,000)
Fullerton, Calif.
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Audio | Video

San Diego at Cal State Fullerton
Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 | 5 p.m.
Titan Stadium (10,000)
Fullerton, Calif.
Game Coverage: Live StatsVideo

KICK OFF: Following four-straight matches on the road, the Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team (2-6 overall) returns home to Titan Stadium for its next four matches -- including the team's Big West Conference openers -- over the next two weeks. The string begins on Thursday night (Sept. 20) at 7 p.m. as the Titans host the Air Force Academy before welcoming San Diego to Orange County on Sunday (Sept. 23) for a 5 p.m. kick-off.

IN THE POLLS:
Neither Cal State Fullerton nor its opponents are ranked nationally entering this week's matches.

BE A FOLLOWER:
Fans can keep up with the latest in Titans athletics by following us on Facebook (CSUF.Athletics) and Twitter (@FullertonTitans).

"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?":
Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, Cal State Fullerton's home matches, as well as selected road contests, can be heard live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. To access the links, click on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of the newly redesigned FullertonTitans.com and enjoy the action.

"CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?":
For the fifth consecutive year, institutions will air select matches on BigWest.TV, including all Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara contests. For the 2012 season, all BigWest.TV events will air free of charge. Head to http://www.bigwest.org/thisweek for weekly event schedules. BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West's ten member institutions. Now in its eighth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women's volleyball as well as men's and women's basketball. Also covered are select contests in women's soccer, baseball, softball and Big West Conference Championships.

I NEED STATS, STAT!:
Barring technical difficulties, live stats will be available for both of this week's tournament matches. Visit the men's soccer schedule page on FullertonTitans.com to access the links.

"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!":
Senior defender Bobby Reiss was named team captain for the 2012 season.

AIR FORCE BRIEFLY:
The Falcons enter the week with a 3-3-1 overall record, with two of their three wins coming away from home... Air Force split its two matches last week, falling in overtime to Oral Roberts (1-0) before shutting out Presbyterian (2-0)... four of the Falcons' seven matches have been decided by a single goal... five different players have found the back of the net this season led by freshman Abinadi Samayoa's two scores... only three of the Falcons' six goals have been assisted on... Air Force is outshooting its opponents, 113-97... Matt Underwood has played every second of all seven matches in net, posting a 0.94 goals against average and 30 saves to go with three shutouts.

HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE FALCONS:
Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Air Force, 3-2-1, having won the last three consecutive meetings dating back to the 1999 campaign... the two programs haven't met since 2008 (a 2-0 Titan win) in Colorado Springs... Fullerton leads the all-time scoring in the series, 11-9, but have outscored the Falcons, 8-3, during its current winning streak... the Titans are 1-0-1 against Air Force at home, winning, 3-2, in overtime in 2005 and battling to a scoreless draw in 1996.

SAN DIEGO BRIEFLY:
The Toreros enter the week with a 2-3 overall record and will host Cal State Northridge on Thursday before heading to Orange County to kick-off a three-match road trip... USD dropped its only match last week, 3-0, at home to UC Santa Barbara... junior Elijah Galbraith-Knapp leads the team in scoring with a pair of goals and four points as four different players have found the back of the net for the Toreros this season... San Diego has been outshot, 81-68... junior Michael D'Arrigo has played every second in net for the Toreros, posting a 1.39 goals against average and 25 saves to go with two shutouts.

HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE TOREROS:
Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with San Diego, 11-9-3, but the two programs haven't met since the 2003 season (a scoreless draw in San Diego)... the Toreros are unbeaten in their last four meetings with the Titans, outscoring them, 10-3, over that stretch... Fullerton is 5-5-1 all-time against USD at home and is winless in its last three at Titan Stadium against the Toreros, falling in 1998 (2-1) and 1999 (4-2) while posting a draw in 1996 (3-3).

STREAKING ESCALANTE NAMED BIG WEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Senior forward Jesse Escalante earned his first career Big West Conference weekly honor on Sept. 17 after helping power Fullerton's offense in its three matches last week. Escalante, who ranks tied for third in the league in goals and points entering this week, finished with a goal in each contest and added the game-winning assist against Syracuse on Sept. 16 to finish with a seven-point week on nine shots. The Placentia, Calif., native, who entered with six career goals in his previous three seasons, has scored a goal in four of the team's last five matches overall and leads the team in both goals (4) and points (9) while standing second on the team in shots (14).

THAT'S OFFENSIVE:
And we mean that in a good way. It was a breakout weekend for the Fullerton offense in the Las Vegas desert as the Titans combined for five goals in two matches at the UNLV Nike Invitational -- one more than the offense had scored all season to that point.

PICK YOUR POISON:
Aside from Escalante's exploits last week, the Titans' offense became a little more "diverse" in the scoring column as Anthony Rosales, Ian Ramos (who also added an assist), and Mario Alvarez each scored their first goals of the year while Julian Okai tallied his first career point with an assist against Syracuse on Sunday.

"STOP" ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE:
Cal State Fullerton goalkeepers have combined to stop a league-high 35 shots this season, including a Big West Conference-best 32 saves by redshirt freshman Adam Zepeda, who also ranks third in the league with 4.00 saves per game.

FOR STARTERS...:
Some goals would be nice. Cal State Fullerton has been slow out of the gate thus far in 2012, scoring just twice in the first half through its first eight matches and outscored, 9-2, in the opening 45 minutes overall. To add insult to injury, the Titans have had to dig themselves out of a hole as the opposition has scored first in every match this season.

ROAD WOE-IORS:
Cal State Fullerton's win over Syracuse on Sunday was the Titans' first win away from the friendly confines of Titan Stadium dating back to their, 3-0, win over American University on Sept. 16, 2011. The win, however, has not snapped a rather lengthy skid in "true" road matches as Fullerton, which suffered a one-goal loss at CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 10, is winless in its last eight true road contests (0-6-2).

TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT:
Redshirt freshman Dyllan Stevens has yet to find the back of the net this season, but it hasn't been because of a lack of effort. Stevens ranks tied for seventh in the Big West entering the week with 16 shots (2.00 spg) this season and is joined in the top 10 by senior teammate Jesse Escalante, who is tied for 20th with 14 shots in 2012.

WELL, THIS IS NEW:
The Big West Conference expands to eight teams and two divisions for the 2012 men's soccer season with the addition of associate member Sacramento State. The Hornets join Cal Poly, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara in the North Division while Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and Cal State Northridge form the South Division.

Each school will play a 10-game conference schedule – a home-and-home against the teams in its own division and one game against each of the teams in the opposite division.

The last time the league's men's soccer teams competed in divisions was 1984 when Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, and UNLV comprised the South Division and Fresno State, San Jose State, UC Santa Barbara, and Pacific made up the North Division.

The winners of the league's two divisions along with the two second-place teams will face off in the 2012 Big West Conference Tournament. The North Division champion will take on the South Division's second-place team while the South Division champ will host the North's second-place squad in the semifinals on Nov. 7. The winners advance to the championship match at the home of the higher-seeded team on Nov. 10.

TITANS PICKED FOURTH IN THE BIG WEST SOUTH, SEVENTH OVERALL:
The Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the newly formed Big West Conference South Division, and seventh overall, according to a vote of the league's coaches released by the conference office.

The Titans (7-7-5 overall, 1-6-3 in the Big West in 2011) received one first-place vote and 13 points overall to finish behind preseason favorite, No. 13 UC Irvine, the league's defending regular season and tournament champion. The Anteaters received six first-place nods and 29 points overall and were followed by Cal State Northridge (which received one first-place vote), UC Riverside, and Fullerton.

No. 11 UC Santa Barbara was a unanimous pick to win the North Division with eight first-place votes and 32 points overall, and was followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly, and Sacramento State.

A LOOK AT THE TITANS:
Under the direction of seventh-year Head Coach Bob Ammann, the Titans return 12 letter winners and six starters off of last season's squad that finished 7-7-5 overall and 1-6-3 in the Big West Conference for seventh place. However, Fullerton will have to cope with the loss of its top three scorers from a year ago in All-Big West honorees Kevin Venegas (1st Team) and Oscar Aguero (2nd Team) as well as Nick Posthuma, who combined for 12 goals and 11 assists. Junior Ritchie Gonzalez and senior Jesse Escalante are the team's leading returning scorers, each posting a pair of goals and an assist in 2011 whlie senior Jameson Campbell added three assists to the offense a season ago.

TOUGH TRIO:
Cal State Fullerton's 2012 schedule includes three teams that are either ranked of receiving votes to begin the season: CSU Bakersfield (receiving votes in the NSCAA poll), UC Santa Barbara (#4 by Soccer America, #11 by the NSCAA), and UC Irvine (#13 NSCAA, #25 Soccer America). All three teams also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 with the Anteaters and Gauchos each receiving first-round byes. Bakersfield fell to Saint Mary's in the first round, while UCI (a #8 seed) was also eliminated by the Gaels in round two. UCSB, a #15 seed, defeated Providence, 3-2, in round two before falling to second-seeded and eventual national semifinalist Creighton, 2-1, in the third round.

HOME, SWEET HOME:
The Titans won't be packing their bags very often in 2012, content to enjoy the friendly confines of Titan Stadium for the majority of the season. Cal State Fullerton will play 11 of its 20 matches at home this season, including four-straight to start the year beginning with this weekend's tournament. During non-conference play, the Titans' longest trip will be to Las Vegas (272 miles according to Google Maps) for a tournament on Sept. 14-16, and they will not leave the State of California for the rest of the year, with their longest trip a 400-mile drive to Sacramento to take on Sacramento State and UC Davis on Oct. 5 and 7, respectively.

CROSSING THE POND:
Three of Cal State Fullerton's incoming class hail from England, continuing somewhat of a pipeline for Head Coach Bob Ammann in recent years. Freshmen Colin Okirie (Coventry) and Julian Okai (Essex) and junior transfer Robbie Hannon (Kent) join the Titans in 2012, bringing the number of English-born players to seven during Ammann's tenure as head coach and 12 international players (two from Germany and one each from Australia, Guatemala, and Scotland) overall since 2006.

BIGGER ISN'T NECESSARILY BETTER:
Cal State Fullerton features 23 players on its roster for the 2012 season -- it's smallest roster since the 2007 season (23) and tied for the second-smallest in Head Coach Bob Ammann's previous six seasons (21 players in 2006).