SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Sacramento State men's soccer team (2-8-3, 0-5-0 Big West) heads south on Tuesday looking to slow down UC Santa Barbara (10-4-0, 5-0-0 Big West), which has won six consecutive matches. The teams will meet under the lights at Harder Stadium at 7 p.m.
"Santa Barbara is a very good team and it's a very difficult place to play," Sacramento State head coach Michael Linenberger said. "It's on a Tuesday night and after a long bus ride, so it will be a big challenge, but we're always excited to measure ourselves against the best. We're looking forward to it."
Out of 203 NCAA Division-I men's soccer squads in the country, UC Santa Barbara ranks No. 2 in RPI, trailing only No. 1 Cal. The Gauchos enter the week ranked No. 18 in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer and will likely earn a top-25 nod in the NSCAA poll when those rankings are updated on Tuesday.
The Hornets took a close 2-1 loss against Cal Poly on Sunday in a match that was very evenly played. Sacramento State broke a two-match scoreless drought in the 71st minute of the match as freshman Andrew Gosselin scored his first career goal off a free kick from freshman Ivan Ramirez. With an additional assist given to freshman Javier Muñoz, the goal was the first this season for the Hornets in which the goal and assist(s) were all credited to freshmen.
Gosselin, Muñoz, and fellow freshman defenders Preston Davis and Alex Gulseth have continued to improve each week in their play on the Hornet back line. The four freshmen, along with redshirt junior Mason McCann, have allowed six or fewer shots on goal in four of the Hornet's last five matches.
Paired with strong play from senior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo, who continues to rank among the national leaders in saves, the Hornets have allowed two or fewer goals in four straight matches and in 10 of 13 total matches this season, including limiting Cal Poly to just two goals after the Mustangs entered the match leading the country in total goals scored. For the season Castillo leads the Big West in saves (71) and save percentage (.789).
The Gauchos have won their last three matches in overtime while they also came from behind to win each match. UC Santa Barbara has allowed only four goals in its last six matches and goalkeeper Josh McNeely leads the Big West with a 0.79 goals against average this season.
UC Santa Barbara has won its last seven meetings with Sacramento State by an aggregate score of 21-2. However, the Hornets battled the Gauchos in their last meeting at Hornet Field last season as UC Santa Barbara narrowly held on for a 2-1 win. Sacramento State won three of its first four meetings in program history with the Gauchos but has not had a win in the series since 1997.
Fans can access a live video broadcast of Tuesday's match at the above link.