SACRAMENTO, Calif. - With their postseason hopes in the balance, the Sacramento State men's soccer team will close out the regular season with a pair of critical Big West games when UC Santa Barbara visits on Wednesday before a trip to UC Davis on Saturday.
The Hornets (8-6-2, 5-2-1 Big West) will play host to the Gauchos (9-5-3, 3-4-1) at 3 p.m. on Wednesday for Senior Day before playing their season finale against the Aggies (8-5-4, 6-2) at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Davis.
You can follow Wednesday's game against UC Santa Barbara via Live Stats and on twitter @hornetsports. You can also listen to the game via UC Santa Barbara's radio broadcast, both online and over the air at KZSB AM 1290. UC Davis will offer both Live Stats and a Live Audio broadcast for Saturday's game.
BIG WEST STANDINGS
Sacramento State is currently in second place in the Big West North Division with 16 points, two back of the first-place Aggies, who have 18 points. Cal Poly, who the Hornets defeated last weekend in San Luis Obispo, are in third with 13 points while UCSB is last with 10 points. The Big West Tournament pits the top two teams from the North against the top two teams from South Division at campus sites.
GAUCHOS OUT OF THE POSTSEASON
After UC Davis' overtime win at UC Santa Barbara last weekend, Gaucho defender Peter McGlynn pushed a referee and has been removed from the team. As a result of the incident, UCSB head coach Tim Vom Steeg was suspended for Wednesday's game with the Hornets and the Gauchos have removed themselves from postseason consideration. As a result, Sacramento State is now battling Cal Poly and UC Davis for the top two spots in the North Division to earn a Big West Tournament bid.
THIS WEEKEND IN THE NORTH DIVISION
As a result of UCSB's self-imposed postseason ban, it is a three-team race for the North Division title and the division's two Big West Tournament bids. This weekend the Hornets play UCSB at home before visiting UC Davis, while the Aggies host Cal Poly on Wednesday before their game with the Hornets. Cal Poly visits UC Davis on Wednesday before a home game against rival UCSB. Here's how things could play out in the final weekend of the regular season:
• SACRAMENTO STATE WINS BOTH GAMES
If the Hornets win both games this weekend, they will have 22 points. Sacramento State would clinch a North Division title plus the top North Division seed to the Big West Tournament. (North Division No. 1 meets South Division No. 2 in the first round and vice versa.)
• SACRAMENTO STATE LOSES BOTH GAMES
If the Hornets drop both games, they would still have 16 points could get the No. 2 North Division seed to the Big West Tournament with at least one Cal Poly loss. If a 16-point tie with Cal Poly (which has 13 points now) would occur, the Hornets would advance as they hold a 1-0-1 record against the Mustangs this season.
• SACRAMENTO STATE WINS VERSUS UCSB, LOSES AT UC DAVIS
If the Hornets defeat UCSB but fall at UC Davis, they will have 19 points and clinch the No. 2 North Division seed.
• SACRAMENTO STATE LOSES TO UCSB, WINS AT UC DAVIS
If the Hornets fall at home to UCSB but win at UC Davis, they will have 19 points but could finish first or second in the North Division. If UC Davis also finishes with 19 points after a draw versus Cal Poly and a loss to the Hornets, Sacramento State will need to win by more than two goals (goal differential in head-to-head games) to win the tiebreaker with the Aggies. If UC Davis falls to both Cal Poly and the Hornets in this scenario, Sacramento State will win the North Division and the top division seed to the Big West Tournament.
• SACRAMENTO STATE DRAWS BOTH GAMES
If the Hornets play to a draw in both games, they will have 18 points and will need Cal Poly to lose at least once to secure the No. 2 North Division seed.
• SACRAMENTO STATE DRAWS WITH UCSB, WINS AT UC DAVIS
If the Hornets play to a draw against UCSB but win at UC Davis, they will have 20 points. If UC Davis loses or draws with Cal Poly, the Hornets would clinch the Big West North Division title and the North Division's top seed. If UC Davis wins against Cal Poly, the Hornets would earn the No. 2 seed.
• SACRAMENTO STATE WINS VERSUS UCSB, DRAWS AT UC DAVIS
If the Hornets knock off UCSB but play to a draw at UC Davis, they will have 20 points. The Hornets would claim the North Division title if UC Davis loses to Cal Poly, but if the Aggies win or draw against the Mustangs, the Hornets would be the No. 2 North Division seed.
• SACRAMENTO STATE DRAWS ONE GAME, LOSES ANOTHER
If the Hornets play to a draw against either UCSB or UC Davis and lose the other game, they will have 17 points and would need Cal Poly to lose at least one game to claim the North Division's No. 2 seed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If the Hornets win twice or Cal Poly loses once, Sacramento State will advance to the Big West Tournament regardless of any other outcome.
SCOUTING THE HORNETS
Sacramento State is coming off an incredible 3-2 win at Cal Poly last Saturday. Isaac Ikyurav and Max Alvarez scored the Hornets' first goals in the game before Gabe Silveira scored the game-winner in the 88th minute. Silveira and Ikyurav are tied for the team lead with five goals while Ikyurav and Alex Lopez each have a team-high four assists. Goalkeeper Bryan Oliver has a 1.34 goals against average with 93 saves and four shutouts. In his last three games, Oliver has allowed at least two goals, including a 2-0 loss at UCSB and a 3-1 home loss to rival UC Davis.
SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS
UC Santa Barbara entered Big West Confernce play ranked No. 3 in the nation but have stuggled in league play. The Gauchos have lost three straight home games since defeating the Hornets on Oct. 16, including overtime losses to Cal Poly and UC Davis. Overall this year, Nic Ryan has a team-high eight goals and 18 points while Ema Boateng and Dom Sarle are tied with a team-best four assists. Freshman goalkeeper Austin Mansker has a 0.88 goals against average with 43 saves and five shutouts.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
UC Davis has been red-hot since the start of league play, with a conference-best 6-2 record. After losing their first Big West game of the year, 2-0 at CSU Northridge, the Aggies have won six of their last seven to claim first place, including a 3-1 performance at Hornet Field on Oct. 20 in which they scored three straight second half goals to win. UC Davis has three players tied with a team-high three goals while Alex Henry and Ryan Gross each have a team-best three assists. Goalkeeper Omar Zeenni has a 0.94 goals against average with 60 saves and five shutouts.
Sacramento State is 3-7-1 against UC Santa Barbara since the Hornets moved to Div. I in 1991. The Hornets won three of the first four meetings but the Gauchos have dominated the series lately, winning six straight since 1999. The Hornets, amazingly, have never played to a draw with the Aggies and are 5-9 all-time in Div. I history against their rival.
LEAVING THE MPSF
Sacramento State was a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for 20 seasons before leaving for the Big West this year. The Hornets, which moved to Div. I in 1991, joined the MPSF the following season. The 1992 season was also head coach Michael Linenberger's first year as the sole head coach of men's soccer program - he shared head coach duties with Paul Arellanes during the 1989, 1990 and 1991 seasons. Linenberger was named MPSF Coach of the Year in 2001, 2005 and 2009. He guided the Hornets to regular season MPSF titles in 2001 and 2009 and MPSF Tournament championships in 2009 and 2010. In both 2009 and 2010, Sacramento State moved on from the league tournament to win NCAA tournament first-round matches (at Loyola Marymount in 2009 and home vs. Santa Clara in 2010).
BIG WEST PRIMER
When the Hornets joined the Big West Conference this season, it allowed the league to split into two four-team divisions. The North Division is made up of Sacramento State, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The South Division features UC Riverside, UC Irvine, CSU Fullerton and CSU Northridge. Each team plays two games (home and away) against its own division foes and one game against the opposite division. The top two teams from each division will qualify for the Big West Tournament.
BIG WEST STANDINGS
UC Davis currently leads the North Division, but the division title is up for grabs. CSU Northridge has secured the South Division title.
||Big West Record||Points||Overall Record|
|1. UC Davis
|2. Sacramento State||5-2-1||16||8-6-2|
|3. Cal Poly||4-3-1||13||9-6-1|
|4. UC Santa Barbara||3-4-1||10||9-5-3|
|South Division||Big West Record||Points||Overall Record|
|1. CSU Northridge||6-2||18||12-5|
|2. CSU Fullerton||3-4-1||10||7-10-1|
|3. UC Riverside||2-6||6||9-7|
|4. UC Irvine||1-7||3||4-13-1|