SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Facing a must-win situation to keep their Big West Tournament hopes alive, the Sacramento State men's soccer team (3-10-3, 1-7-0 Big West) opens the final week of the regular season hosting No. 12 UC Santa Barbara (11-4-2, 6-0-2 Big West) at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Hornet Field.
The match will be the Hornets first on their home field since Oct. 19 and just their second home game since Oct. 6. Trailing UC Davis by five points for the final Big West Tournament qualifying spot with two matches to play, the Hornets will need to top both the Gauchos and Aggies this week and hope Cal Poly ties or defeats UC Davis on Wednesday.
The Hornets and Gauchos met just two weeks ago in Santa Barbara on Oct. 22, with UCSB claiming a 2-1 win with a game-winning goal in the 75th minute. Sacramento State played the Gauchos close, placing six shots on goal to just eight by UC Santa Barbara and trailing in corner kicks just 7-5.
Sophomore Edwin Luna tallied his second career goal against the Gauchos, placing a perfect free kick from 35 yards out off the bottom of the crossbar and into the home goal. Luna scored again on Saturday at Cal Poly, finishing a goal in the 69th minute and assisting on the Hornets' first score on a finely played free kick to freshman Andrew Gosselin. With the goal and assist Luna became the first Hornet this season to record multiple points in a match while he also helped Sacramento State record its first multi-goal game since last October.
Luna has sparked the Hornet offense, which has tallied five goals in its last four matches after totaling just six goals through the first 12 matches of the season. Luna and senior Isaac Ikyurav each have eight shots over the last four matches, while Gosselin, a defender, has tallied his first two career goals off feeds from set pieces. Five different Hornets have recorded assists during the stretch, with freshmen Javier Muñoz and Preston Davis also recording their first career points.
Senior goalkeeper Cesar Castillo continues to rack up saves for the Hornets and now has 91 saves this season, the fourth most stops in a season in program history with at least two matches remaining. He is 18 saves shy of the program record of 109 season stops set by former Hornet goalkeeper and current assistant coach Matt McDougall in 2004. With seven saves at Cal Poly Castillo continues to rank fifth in the NCAA with 6.07 saves per game this season.
UC Santa Barbara locked up the regular season Big West North Division championship two weeks ago and is undefeated in conference play at 6-0-2. The Gauchos are undefeated over their last nine matches and haven't lost since Sept. 27, but five of their last six matches have gone to overtime, including ties in their last two games.
Senior Achille Campion leads the Gauchos with seven goals and 16 points while senior Goffin Boyoko has six goals. Goalkeeper Josh McNeely leads the Big West with a 0.80 goals against average for UC Santa Barbara, which has won its last eight meetings with Sacramento State and hasn't lost to the Hornets since 1997.
Wednesday's contest is a Green Army Support-A-Hornet game with Herky's PK Challange at halftime and free food from Raley's for the first 50 students in Green Army gear.