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Men's Soccer Weekly Notes, 9/5

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Sacramento State men's soccer team heads back out on the road as they take on the Pac-12's California Golden Bears tomorrow, Thursday, Sep. 6. The match, which is the first between the two teams since 2006, will be hosted at the San Jose Earthquakes' Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm. 

How To Follow Along

Live Stats for Sacramento State's Thursday night match versus the California Golden Bears will be available online at HornetStats.com. In-game updates will also be provided on Twitter, @SacStMSoccer. 

All links can be found by visiting the 2018 Men's Soccer Schedule online at HornetSports.com.

Additionally, parking and admission to Thursday night's match is free. For more details, please visit SJEarthquakes.com. 

Thursday vs. Cal, 7:00 PM
Live stats: hornetsports.com/links/dmm00p
Twitter: twitter.com/sacstmsoccer

About Last Week

The Hornets won one of the most exciting games in program history on the road at CSU Bakersfield last Friday. Trailing 3-1 and again 4-2, as well as playing a man down, Sacramento State rallied back to a 5-4 overtime win. Freshman Benji Kikanovic scored twice in the game for the Hornets. 

On Sunday, Sacramento State hosted San Jose State for their home opener. Dominic Scotti scored the Hornets' lone goal, converting on a penalty kick early in the second half. Despite a strong second-half showing, Sacramento State fell to the Spartans, 2-1.

National Team of the Week

Freshman forward Benji Kikanovic was selected by Top Drawer Soccer to the National Team of the Week, ending in Sept. 2. Kikanovic is one of 11 players selected and is the only true freshman in the group. 

Kikanovic was named to the squad after his impressive, two-goal performance in Sacramento State's 5-4 overtime win at CSU Bakersfield. The forward scored just 24 seconds into the match before scoring his first game-winner for the Hornets. 

Match of the Year

Last Friday, Sacramento State defeated CSU Bakersfield, 5-4 in overtime, in what was one of the most incredible matches in program history. The match featured nine total goals and the Hornets overcame two-goal deficits twice (3-1, 4-2), before winning in overtime. 

Sacramento State also played a man down for nearly 80 minutes after a 12th minute red card against goalkeeper Nick Kubler. In total, the match included three red cards and seven yellows between the two teams.

Pac-12 Action

The Hornets will face their second Pac-12 team of the year on Thursday when they take on Cal. Sacramento State also faced the Oregon State Beavers earlier this season, falling 2-1 on the road. 

Since Sacramento State moved move to the Big West in 2012, they have played just two games against Pac-12 opponents (Oregon State twice: 2012, 2018). 

Competing with Cal

Despite Thursday's match being the first between these two teams since Sacramento State moved to the Big West, the two teams do have a longer history. All-time, Cal leads the series 9-2-1. The last time the Bears and Hornets faced off was in 2006, a 2-0 loss for Sacramento State on the road at Cal. Sacramento State and Cal have never faced each other on a neutral pitch. 

The Far West Region

After their loss at home to San Jose State, the Hornets have fallen out of the Top 10 in the Far West Region after being ranked #9 last week. Similarly, Cal dropped from #3 in the Far West to #10 after a 2-1 loss at Pacific. 

Tournament Teams

Sacramento State faces three teams who participated in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Cal, Pacific, and San Francisco all earned a bid in last year's tournament. The three teams combined to go 2-3, with Pacific only losing to No. 9 Stanford on penalty kicks after playing to a 0-0 draw. 

A One-Match Week

This week is Sacramento State's first of three one-match weeks for the season. The Hornets also have just one match during the week of Sept. 24 and again during the Week of Oct. 22. Both of those weeks feature a match against the UC Davis Aggies. 

After a Three-Match Week

While this week features just one match, last week included three matches, the only such week of the season for the Hornets. Sacramento State took on Oregon State, CSU Bakersfield, and San Jose State all in a span of seven days. 

An MLS Setting

The Hornets and Bears will face off at a neutral location on Thursday when they take the field at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. Avaya is the home of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes. 

Since 2012, Sacramento State has played just two matches at neutral sites. They are 2-0 in those contests (W, 2-1 vs. Incarnate Word; W, 4-3 vs. Northern Illinois).

Playing Shorthanded

Sacramento State has played down a man for 189 total minutes so far this season. That is nearly half (49%) of their total minutes played this year (386 total minutes). The Hornets have received two red cards, one coming just five minutes into their season opener  at Portland and another in the 12th minute last Friday at CSU Bakersfield. 

Scorin' Scotti

Senior midfielder and team captain Dominic Scotti scored his team-leading third goal of the season this past Sunday against San Jose State. The goal came on a penalty kick early in the second half. 

Scotti has now scored in three of the Hornets' first four games this year. Dating back to last season, he has scored seven goals in his last 10 games.  

On The Road Again

After hosting San Jose State on Sunday for their home opener, the Hornets are back on the road for two consecutive matches. After facing Cal, the Hornets will travel to Stockton to take on #14 Pacific. 

Seven of Sacramento State's 10 non-conference matches are on the road this season. That ratio will flip when they play four of seven conference contests at home at Hornet Field. 

Take Caution

Through the season's first four games, Sacramento State's eight yellow cards are tied for second most in the Big West conference. Their two red cards are the most shown to a team in the conference (UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine each have one). 

Chasing 200

Head coach Mike Linenberger is just two wins shy of his 200th career win. He has accumulated a record of 198-288-62 as a head coach, including a mark of 41-59-17 during a six-plus year period in the Big West. Linenberger has guided the Hornets to the Big West Tournament in each of the last two seasons.

Exciting Exhibitions

The Hornets played three preseason exhibition contests this season, hosting both Bethesda University and Sonoma State while facing Santa Clara on the road. Sacramento State came on strong in all three matches, defeating Bethesda and Sonoma State, both 6-0, while playing to a 2-2 draw at Santa Clara. 

Freshman Benji Kikanovic scored four goals and added three assists while senior Brad Bumgarner scored three goals with two assists. Expected starting goalkeeper Nick Kubler did not allow a goal.

No More Divisions

For the first time since Sacramento State joined the Big West in 2012, the conference is restructuring from two divisions (North and South) to no divisions. In the past, a team played each team in its division twice and teams in the opposite division once for nine games. Now, a team will play each other team in the conference once, resulting in just seven conference games each season. 

With the new, no-division structure, the top six teams overall will clinch a postseason berth.