Cal State Fullerton at UC Davis
**BIG WEST TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS**
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 | 2 p.m.
Aggie Soccer Field
KICK OFF: After being picked fourth in the Big West Conference South Division and seventh overall, the Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team begins its "second season" this week as one of four qualifiers for the 2012 Big West Men's Soccer Tournament that kicks-off on Wednesday (Nov. 7). As the No. 2 seed out of the South Division, the Titans head to North Division champion UC Davis for the first semifinal at 2 p.m., while South Division champion Cal State Northridge hosts Cal Poly in the other semifinal at 7 p.m.
LOOKING AHEAD: We know we shouldn't do it, but it's important. Should Cal State Fullerton win its semifinal on Wednesday, the Titans will travel to either Northridge or San Luis Obispo for Saturday's championship match. The game will kick-off at 1 p.m. on Nov. 10 and be televised on Fox Sports PrimeTicket.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor UC Davis are ranked in the top 25 entering this week's contests.
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 this week's 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.
THREE TITANS NAMED ALL-BIG WEST: Cal State Fullerton senior Jesse Escalante and sophomore Ian Ramos were named to the first team while senior Gerzon Blanco was an honorable mention selection as the Big West Conference released its postseason honor roll as selected by the coaches on Monday afternoon. It is the second time in the last three seasons (and only the second time since 2006) that the Titans have had a pair on the first team following Nick Posthuma and Kevin Venegas' selections in 2010 and only the 25th and 26th Titans selected to the first team since 1985. The selections also mark the first time any of the three have been honored by the Big West Conference in their collegiate careers and the third consecutive season that Fullerton has had at least one player selected to the All-Big West First Team.
TITANS IN THE TOURNEY: The 2012 Big West Tournament will mark only the Titans' second appearance in the event since it began with the 2008 season... Fullerton's first appearance came as the No. 4 seed in 2010 as the Titans upset top-seeded UC Irvine, 2-1, at Anteater Stadium before falling to No. 2-seeded UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, in the championship match.
OTHER TOURNEY NOTES: UC Davis is 0-2 all-time in the Big West Tournament, falling in the semifinals in 2008 (UC Irvine) and 2011 (UC Santa Barbara)... Cal Poly is 0-2-1 in the tournament, making the cut from 2008-10, including a shootout loss in the 2008 semifinals to UC Santa Barbara... Northridge is making only its second appearance in the tournament after falling in the semifinals to UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, in 2009.
UC DAVIS BRIEFLY: The Aggies enter the tournament with a 9-6-4 overall record and a 7-3 mark in Big West Conference play to clinch the North Division with 21 points... UC Davis is 5-3 at home this season, having won four of its last five after splitting its finales last weekend with a 1-0 loss to Cal Poly and a 2-1 win over Sacramento State... the Aggies feature a diverse offense that has seen 11 different players account for the team's 21 goals... three players (Alex Aguiar, Kevin Schulte, and Pat Reese) have each scored three times this season while Alex Henry, who posted the 80th-minute game-winner in the first meeting with the Titans, leads the team with four assists... Omar Zeenni has played all but 90 minutes in net for the Aggies, posting a 0.95 goals against average, 65 saves, and five shutouts.
HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE AGGIES: Fullerton leads the all-time series with UC Davis, 6-5-3, after the Aggies posted a 2-1 win in Davis on Oct. 7... the Titans are 3-3-2 on the road at Davis, suffering their first loss in the last five trips (2-1-2) earlier this season.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE BRIEFLY: The Matadors enter the tournament with a 13-6 overall record and a 7-3 mark in Big West Conference play to clinch the South Division title with 21 points... Northridge has won six of its last eight, but dropped its regular season finale to UC Irvine by a 1-0 score on Nov. 3... Sagi Lev-Ari leads the team with 12 goals and 24 points while Edwin Rivas and Beto Velasquez have scored eight times apice and finished the regular season with 19 and 17 points, respectively... Carlos Benavides leads the team with eight assists... Michael Abalos leads the Matadors between the pipes, posting a 0.99 goals against average and 53 saves to go with six shutouts in 18 starts.
HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE MATADORS: Cal State Northridge leads the all-time series with Cal State Fullerton, 19-15-2, with the two teams splitting the regular season series... the Titans won the first meeting, 5-4, on Oct. 17 at Titan Stadium after trailing 4-1 just seconds into the second half before the Matadors rebounded for a 1-0 win in Northridge despite being outshot, 17-7, for the match by Fullerton on Oct. 31... the win was just the third for the Titans in the last 17 meetings (3-13-1)... Fullerton is 7-10 all-time at Northridge, having lost eight of the last nine in the Valley with the last win coming in 2010 by the score of 3-1.
CAL POLY BRIEFLY: The Mustangs enter the tournament with an 11-6-1 overall record and a 6-3-1 mark in Big West play to finish second in the North Division with 19 points... Cal Poly has been on a roll, finishing 5-1-1 over its last seven matches, including a sweep last weekend at UC Davis (1-0) and home against UC Santa Barbara (1-0)... the Mustangs are 7-3 at home this season against just 4-3-1 on the road... Mackenzie Pridham, who had both goals against the Titans in a 2-0 win back on Sept. 28, leads the team with 11 goals and 23 points this season -- nearly half of the team's 26 goals scored in 2012... Chris Gaschen, the reigning Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week, leads the team with seven assists... Chase Hauser (0.93 GAA, 24 saves, 2 shutouts) and Wade Hamilton (1.02 GAA, 43 saves, 3 shutouts) have nearly split time down the middle in net while Hamilton appearing in three more matches than Hauser this season.
HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE MUSTANGS: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with Cal Poly, 15-13, but the Titans have lost eight of the last nine meetings after snapping a seven-match losing skid with a 1-0 win at Titan Stadium last season... four of the last five meetings between the two programs have been one-goal affairs while nine of the last 11 meetings have resulted in shutouts... Fullerton is just 4-9 all-time against Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, losing its last six trips to the Central Coast.
BLANCO BUSTING OUT: Cal State Fullerton senior forward Gerzon Blanco had himself a "Senior Night" to remember last weekend against UC Riverside, helping the Titans clinch a Big West Tournament spot with a goal and an assist on the eventual game-winner as Fullerton held off UC Riverside, 2-1. Of his 11 points this season (good for third on the team), Blanco has scored eight of them in the last five matches, netting three goals and a pair of assists to help the Titans to a 4-1 mark in those contests
ALL HE DOES IS WIN, WIN, WIN...: Adding to Blanco's strong finish has been his performance in the clutch for the Titans as the Placentia native has scored a pair of game-winning goals at UC Riverside on Oct. 20 and at home against UC Irvine on Oct. 27 while tallying the game-winning assist on teammate Jesse Escalante's goal against the Highlanders last weekend. He is one of only five players to tally a game-winning goal this season for the Titans and one of three with multiple winners (Jesse Escalante and Anthony Rosales).
RAMOS KEEPS ON ROLLING: Sophomore Ian Ramos continues to light up the scoresheet, tallying his sixth assist of the year in Fullerton's win over UC Riverside last weekend. Ramos has notched 11 of his 18 points this season over the team's last five matches (including a hat trick against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 17) and is tied for the top spot with teammate Jesse Escalante with 18 points entering the week on six goals and six assists, tripling his career goal output after scoring twice as a freshman in 2011.
HERE TO HELP: Ramos' six assists this season have him knocking on the door of the school's single-season top 10 list, needing just two more assists this year to move into a seven-way tie for eighth. Mike Fox (1980-82) holds the record with 13 assists in his first year as a Titan in 1980.
EIGHT IS GREAT FOR ESCALANTE: Cal State Fullerton senior Jesse Escalante netted his team-best eighth goal of the season in Saturday's victory over UC Riverside, giving him the most goals by a Titan striker since Nick Posthuma finished with nine scores in 2010.
SPEAKING OF ESCALANTE: No... not you, the other Escalante. Since allowing a season-high four goals in his first start (and victory) of the year against nationally ranked Cal State Northridge, Fullerton junior goalkeeper Bryan Escalante has been on fire between the pipes as of late, allowing just two goals over his last three matches (0.67 GAA) and posting a 4-1 record over his last five contests with 19 saves. He twice has saved a season-high six shots this season against UC Irvine (Oct. 27) and UC Riverside (Nov. 3) -- just one shy of his career high of seven set in an upset of the Anteaters in the semifinals of the 2010 Big West Conference Tournament.
DANGEROUS DUO: The sophomore-senior 1-2 punch of Ian Ramos and Jesse Escalante have been a powerful force up front for the Titans, combining to score just over half (14 of 27) of the team's goals and nearly half of the squad's points in 2012. Both rank among the league's top 10 in points (t5th), points per match (t7th and 3rd), and goals scored (t7th and t3rd). Individually, Ramos also ranks seventh in the league in shots (40), 10th in shots per match (2.00), and tied for fifth in assists (6).
LIVING ON THE EDGE: Each of Cal State Fullerton's last five victories have come by a single goal dating back to a 2-1 win over San Diego on Sept. 23, as the Titans have had 14 one-goal contests in 20 matches overall this season (6-8 in those games).
ON A ROLL (HOLD THE MAYO): A big part of Fullerton's push to the Big West Conference Tournament has been the play of Gerzon Blanco and teammate Ian Ramos, who have combined to score seven of the team's 11 goals and collect five assists in that span while taking 30 shots (15 apiece) -- putting 17 of those on frame.
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: Statistically, Fullerton has been a second-half squad in 2012, scoring 21 of its 27 goals and taking 175 of its 281 shots (62%) in the second half or later this season. The Titans have been outscored, 17-6, and surrendering 26 more shots in the first 45 minutes compared to just a two-goal (18-16) advantage in the second period and a 3-0 lead in overtime. However, it has been a big hole for Cal State Fullerton to dig out of as the Titans are just 4-11-1 this season when trailing or tied at halftime, winning for only the second time this season when behind at the break against Cal State Northridge, trailing 3-1 at halftime before rallying for their 5-4 victory on Oct. 17.
OT NO PROBLEM: With it's double-overtime win at UC Riverside on Oct. 20, the Titans remained unbeaten in overtime this season (3-0-1) and are unbeaten in their last six trips (3-0-3) to overtime overall dating back to 2011 and a 1-0 loss at UC Irvine on Oct. 22 -- its only loss in the team's last 11 extra-time contests.
STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY, SIR!: The Titans have committed the most fouls in the league entering this weekend's contests (300) and rank tied for second in the Big West with 40 yellow cards -- just one behind Sacramento State for the top spot.