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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team is back at Hornet Field this Thursday for the first time since September 10. The team opens Big West conference play as they host the south division's CSUN (9/28) and UC Irvine (9/30).  

Scouting Cal State Northridge (5-4-0, 0-0-0 Big West)

Sacramento State will kick off the Big West season by hosting the defending Big West tournament champion Cal State Northridge Matadors. The last time these two teams faced each other was in the 2016 conference tournament semifinals. After 110 scoreless minutes, the Matadors outlasted the Hornets, advancing on penalty kicks, 6-5.  They then defeated Cal State Fullerton 2-1 in double overtime.

All-time, the Hornets have struggled against CSUN, posting a 4-12-1 record against the Matadors. In the last five matchups, CSUN holds a 4-1 advantage over Sacramento State.

Northridge enters play Friday with a 5-4-0 record and are currently ranked third in the south division. They are led by forward Emmanuel Usen, whose five goals and 12 points both lead the conference. The senior was also named the Big West's Offensive Player of the Week for the week of September 11-17.

CSUN was picked to finish first in the south division by the Big West coaches before the start of the season. They received six first-place votes and were picked as the division's favorite for the first time since 2014. Their high-powered offense is among the top 3 in points (2nd, 43), goals (2nd, 15), and assists (2nd, 13).

Quick Facts vs. CSUN

Scouting UC Irvine (5-3-1, 0-0-0 Big West)

Sacramento State's second conference match of the season comes against UC Irvine. The Anteaters have not traveled to Sacramento since 2015, a match that the Hornets won 3-2 in overtime. Last season, the Hornets beat UC Irvine in Irvine, 2-1. All-time, UC Irvine holds a 7-8-1 edge over Sacramento State, though the Hornets are 2-2-1 against UC Irvine at home.

UC Irvine enters play this weekend tied with Cal State Fullerton atop the south division at 5-3-1, though they are scheduled to face UC Davis on Thursday.

After being picked to finish last in the division in the preseason coaches poll, UC Irvine got off to a very hot start in non-conference play. They lead the Big West in nearly every offensive category, including shots (126, 14/game), points (52, 5.8/game), goals (17), goals per game (1.89), and assists (18, 2/game). Their aggressive style of play also has them atop the conference's offsides count with 24. 

The Irvine squad is led by senior Giovanni Godoy and junior Ivan Canales. The duo have combined for eight goals and 18 points through nine games. Godoy, who leads the league in shots (24), was named the Big West Offensive Player of the Week. On the other side of the ball, UC Irvine's Daniel Crisostomo was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week.

Quick Facts vs. UC Irvine

Conference Kickoff

The Hornets kick off the 2017 conference season this weekend. In non-conference play, Sacramento State finished 4-4-0, including 2-1 on the road (1-0 on neutral ground). Their 4-4 start before conference play is nearly identical to last season's 4-3-1 start. In conference last season, the Hornets finished 4-5-1.

Del Curto On the Cusp

With one save in last Sunday's match, senior goalkeeper James Del Curto now has 20 on the season and 199 for his career. He currently stands alone with the fifth most saves in program history. With one more save, he will become just the fifth goalkeeper to reach the 200-save mark.

The program record is held by current assistant coach Matt McDougall, who recorded 306 saves from 2002-2005.

Goalkeeper Saves - Career
1. Matt McDougall (2002-05) - 306
2. Cesar Castillo (2010-13) - 243
3. Bryan Oliver (2008-12) - 238
4. Gary Davis (1992-95) - 222
5. James Del Curto (2013-pres.) - 199

Top 10 Teammates

Trevor Jackson (7 points) and Justin Bedig (6) are both Top 10 in the Big West in points this season. They duo are also top 10 goals scored (Jackson, 3; Bedig, 2), as is Christian Webb (2). In addition to ranking among the top 10 in goals, Bedig is also tied for fourth with two assists.

All Good Things Must End

Sacramento State's loss on Sunday to Saint Mary's was their first loss to the Gaels since 2007. In eight matches between losses, the Hornets we 2-0-6 against Saint Mary's. All-time, the green and gold trail Saint Mary's 6-11-8.

Counting Streaks

Sacramento recently completed a three-game win streak, their longest since early in the 2016 season. Prior to last season, the men's squad had not won three straight since winning five straight during the 2012 season. The five-game win streak matched their program record (five straight wins in 2009, 2010, and 2012).