September 6, 2012

Titans Look to Tame Lions in Lone Match

FULLERTON, Calif.

KICK OFF: After four straight at home to open the 2012 season, the Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team (1-3 overall) hits the road for the first time in the current campaign, making a short jaunt north to take on Loyola Marymount in its only game of the week. The Titans and Lions clash on Friday afternoon (Sept. 7) at 3 p.m. at Sullivan Field in Los Angeles.

IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor LMU are ranked entering this weekend's contest.

"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?": Thanks to a partnership with Arizona-based Stretch Internet, Cal State Fullerton's home matches, as well as selected road contests, can be heard live over the Internet at FullertonTitans.com. To access the links, click on the headphones icon in the upper right-hand corner of the newly redesigned FullertonTitans.com and enjoy the action.

"CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?": For the fifth consecutive year, institutions will air select matches on BigWest.TV, including all Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara contests. For the 2012 season, all BigWest.TV events will air free of charge. Head to http://www.bigwest.org/thisweek for weekly event schedules. BigWest.TV brings together live and on-demand video from each of the Big West's ten member institutions.

Now in its eighth year, BigWest.TV covers Big West sports, press conferences, interviews and features, including every home and conference contest in women's volleyball as well as men's and women's basketball. Also covered are select contests in women's soccer, baseball, softball and Big West Conference Championships.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties, live stats will be available for all this weekend's match at LMU. Visit the men's soccer schedule page on FullertonTitans.com to access the link.

LMU BRIEFLY: The Lions enter the week with an 0-2-1 overall record with losses to UC Santa Barbara (2-1) and Cornell (2-0) sandwiched around a 1-1 draw with UNLV… Friday's match against Fullerton is the fourth in a string of six-straight home matches for LMU… Pedro Velazquez and Craig Nitti have each found the back of the net this season while goalkeeper Billy Thompson has a goals against aver of 1.55 and 10 saves in three starts.

HEAD-TO-HEAD WITH LMU: Cal State Fullerton leads the all-time series with LMU, winning 13 of the 15 meetings, but the two schools have not met since the 2000 season -- a 3-1 Titan victory in Los Angeles… Fullerton is a perfect 6-0 against the Lions on their home field… the Titans lead the scoring in the series, 44-16...

FINALLY!: After an inauspicious start to the year offensively with back-to-back shutouts at the hands of American and Portland, the Titans got back in the groove last weekend with scores in both of their matches. Junior transfer Jaime Cano became the first Fullerton player to find the back of the net with a late equalizer against Cornell while Jesse Escalante and Jonathan Birt each scored against UNLV to give the Titans their first win of the season.

BIRT BURNS REBELS IN THREE-POINT NIGHT: Senior Jonathan Birt was the hero for the Titans against UNLV, assisting on the game-tying goal and heading home the game-winner in the second overtime for a big offensive night. A regular on the back line over his three previous seasons, Birt tallied his third career goal and eighth career assist in the win.

AWW, SHOOT!: Fullerton's 22 shots in its win over UNLV on Sept. 2 marked a season high and the most for the Titans since they unleashed 23 shots in a 1-1 draw with UC Riverside on Oct. 26, 2011.

OOOOOVERTIME: Last Sunday's overtime win over UNLV marked the fifth time in Fullerton's last 11 contests dating back to last year that the Titans have had to play extra time, posting an 1-1-3 mark in those contests.

WELL, THIS IS NEW: The Big West Conference expands to eight teams and two divisions for the 2012 men's soccer season with the addition of associate member Sacramento State. The Hornets join Cal Poly, UC Davis, and UC Santa Barbara in the North Division while Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and Cal State Northridge form the South Division.

Each school will play a 10-game conference schedule – a home-and-home against the teams in its own division and one game against each of the teams in the opposite division.

The last time the league's men's soccer teams competed in divisions was 1984 when Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, and UNLV comprised the South Division and Fresno State, San Jose State, UC Santa Barbara, and Pacific made up the North Division.

The winners of the league's two divisions along with the two second-place teams will face off in the 2012 Big West Conference Tournament. The North Division champion will take on the South Division's second-place team while the South Division champ will host the North's second-place squad in the semifinals on Nov. 7. The winners advance to the championship match at the home of the higher-seeded team on Nov. 10.

"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!": Senior defender Bobby Reiss was named team captain for the 2012 season.

TITANS PICKED FOURTH IN THE BIG WEST SOUTH, SEVENTH OVERALL: The Cal State Fullerton men's soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the newly formed Big West Conference South Division, and seventh overall, according to a vote of the league's coaches released by the conference office.

The Titans (7-7-5 overall, 1-6-3 in the Big West in 2011) received one first-place vote and 13 points overall to finish behind preseason favorite, No. 13 UC Irvine, the league's defending regular season and tournament champion. The Anteaters received six first-place nods and 29 points overall and were followed by Cal State Northridge (which received one first-place vote), UC Riverside, and Fullerton.

No. 11 UC Santa Barbara was a unanimous pick to win the North Division with eight first-place votes and 32 points overall, and was followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly, and Sacramento State.

A LOOK AT THE TITANS: Under the direction of seventh-year Head Coach Bob Ammann, the Titans return 12 letter winners and six starters off of last season's squad that finished 7-7-5 overall and 1-6-3 in the Big West Conference for seventh place. However, Fullerton will have to cope with the loss of its top three scorers from a year ago in All-Big West honorees Kevin Venegas (1st Team) and Oscar Aguero (2nd Team) as well as Nick Posthuma, who combined for 12 goals and 11 assists. Junior Ritchie Gonzalez and senior Jesse Escalante are the team's leading returning scorers, each posting a pair of goals and an assist in 2011 whlie senior Jameson Campbell added three assists to the offense a season ago.

HOME, SWEET HOME: The Titans won't be packing their bags very often in 2012, content to enjoy the friendly confines of Titan Stadium for the majority of the season. Cal State Fullerton will play 11 of its 20 matches at home this season and will leave the state of California only once all year.

During non-conference play, the Titans' longest trip will be to Las Vegas (272 miles according to Google Maps) for a tournament on Sept. 14-16, with their longest trip a 400-mile drive to Sacramento to take on Sacramento State and UC Davis on Oct. 5 and 7, respectively.

CROSSING THE POND: Three of Cal State Fullerton's incoming class hail from England, continuing somewhat of a pipeline for Head Coach Bob Ammann in recent years. Freshmen Colin Okirie (Coventry) and Julian Okai (Essex) and junior transfer Robbie Hannon (Kent) join the Titans in 2012, bringing the number of English-born players to seven during Ammann's tenure as head coach and 12 international players (two from Germany and one each from Australia, Guatemala, and Scotland) overall since 2006.

BIGGER ISN'T NECESSARILY BETTER: Cal State Fullerton features 23 players on its roster for the 2012 season -- it's smallest roster since the 2007 season (23) and tied for the second-smallest in Head Coach Bob Ammann's previous six seasons (21 players in 2006).

MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH: Eight of Cal State Fullerton's 19 contests in 2011 were decided by a single goal as the Titans posted just a 3-5 mark in those contests. Of those five losses, four of those came in Big West Conference play, including a pair to UC Irvine, a 4-3 defeat at home to perennial power UC Santa Barbara, and a 2-1 loss to Cal State Northridge in the season finale. In addition, two other games could have gone Fullerton's way with a bounce here and there as both of the Titans' 1-1 draws with UC Riverside were forged with second-half Highlander goals -- including one with eight minutes to play in regulation on Oct. 15 at Titan Stadium.