Cal State Fullerton Hosts UC Irvine in Battle for O.C. Rematch
KICK OFF: A suddenly resurgent Cal State Fullerton offense returns to the pitch this weekend for only one match, but a key battle in the race for the Big West Conference South Division's second playoff spot. Coming off back-to-back wins for only the second time this season, the Titans (6-10-1 overall, 2-4-1 in the Big West) host a rematch with Orange County rival UC Irvine on Saturday night (Oct. 27) at 7 p.m.
IN THE POLLS: Neither Cal State Fullerton nor UC Irvine are ranked among the top 25 this week.
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"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 this weekend's match. Visit the men's soccer schedule page on FullertonTitans.com to access the links.
"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!": Senior defender Bobby Reiss was named team captain for the 2012 season.
UC IRVINE BRIEFLY: The Anteaters enter the weekend with a 4-12-1 overall record and a 1-6 mark in Big West Conference play (1-3 vs. the South Division) with their only win coming against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 13 at Anteater Stadium... UCI has lost three-straight and 10 of its last 11 contests, last falling at No. 14 Louisville on Oct. 24 by a 2-1 score in Kentucky... Irvine is just 1-7 away from home this year... Cameron Iwasa leads the team with six goals and 14 points this season -- one of three Anteaters in double figures... four other players have also found the back of the net multiple times this season, but only seven players have accounted for the team's 22 scores... Michael Breslin has played all but 130 minutes in net this season for UC Irvine, posting a 1.76 goals against average and 73 saves to go with a pair of shutouts.
HEAD-TO-HEAD VERSUS THE ANTEATERS: UC Irvine leads the all-time series, 21-18-6, dating to 1984 after posting a 2-1 win over Fullerton earlier this season... the last four meetings between the two programs have all been decided by one goal and a 2-1 score... Fullerton's last win in the series came in the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament in 2010, downing Irvine, 2-1, at Anteater Stadium... the Titans are winless in their last 10 meetings with the Anteaters at Titan Stadium (0-8-2), last posting a victory at home by a 2-0 score in 1999.
O.C. REMATCH: UC Irvine's Enrique Cardenas scored with just over four minutes remaining in reguation and Pavle Atanackovic finished with a three-point night, lifting the Anteaters to a, 2-1, win over Fullerton back on Oct. 13 in Irvine. Senior Jesse Escalante got the Titans on the board early with his seventh goal of the season in the 49th minute, but Atanackovic responded with the equalizer just one minute later, setting up Cardenas' game-winning strike late. Fullerton outshot Irvine, 19-13, with 12 of those shots coming in the second half and the Titans finished with eight corner kicks to just three for the Anteaters. Escalante finished with a match-high six shots to pace both sides.
RAMOS EARNS BIG WEST WEEKLY HONORS: Sophomore Ian Ramos is the reigning Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his four-goal, nine-point weekend helped lead the Titans to wins over nationally ranked Cal State Northridge and UC Riverside last week. Ramos, who entered the week with two goals and three assists to his name in 2012, finished with a second-half hat trick against the Matadors -- including the game-winner on a penalty kick in the 71st minute -- and added a goal and an assist three nights later against the Highlanders.
MORE FOR THE MANTLE: Adding to his weekly award haul, Ramos was one of 12 players named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week (one of two Big West players on the list) and was also named the L.A. Soccer News Men's Player of the Week.
THAT'S A NEAT TRICK: Ramos' hat trick against Cal State Northridge last week was the first for a Titan in over nine years dating back to Nov. 4, 2003, when Brent Whitfield scored his seventh, eighth, and ninth goals in a 3-1 win over Fresno State at home.
HIGH FIVE!: Fullerton's five goals against Cal State Northridge (and four goals in the second half) were a season high and most since the Titans scored five times in a 5-1 win over UNLV on Sept. 3, 2011 -- a match that also featured a four-goal half but, this time, all coming in the first 45 minutes.
NO OFF-ENSE? NOT ANYMORE: Entering last Wednesday's match against the Matadors, the Titans had scored only five goals in their previous six contests combined before erupting for eight goals in wins over Northridge and UC Riverside.
DANGEROUS DUO: The sophomore-senior 1-2 punch of Ian Ramos and Jesse Escalante have been a powerful force up front for the Titans, combining to score half (13 of 24) of the team's goals and nearly half of the squad's points in 2012. Both rank among the league's top 10 in shots (7th and t8th, respectively), points (t4th), points per match (8th and t4th), and goals scored (t6th and t4th). Ramos also ranks tied for eighth in assists (4).
OT NO PROBLEM: With it's double-overtime win at UC Riverside last weekend, the Titans remained unbeaten in overtime this season (3-0-1) and are unbeaten in their last six trips (3-0-3) to overtime overall dating back to 2011 and a 1-0 loss at UC Irvine on Oct. 22 -- its only loss in the team's last 11 extra-time contests.
ROAD WOE NO MO: Fullerton's win at UC Riverside last weekend didn't just pick up three key points for the Titans in the race for the Big West Conference Tournament, it also ended a couple of pretty lengthy road losing streak for Cal State Fullerton. The Titans' Inland Empire triumph snapped a 10-match road winless streak (0-9-1) since a 3-0 win at American University on Sept. 16, 2011, in Washington, D.C., and ended a 10-match road winless skid in regular season Big West Conference play that stretched back over two years since a 3-1 win at Cal State Northridge on Oct. 13, 2010.
FIRST!: Jameson Campbell's goal in the 69th minute on Saturday at UC Riverside marked only the fourth time this season that the Titans have been the first team on the scoreboard, improving to 3-1 overall in that situation this season.
SPEAKING OF CAMPBELL: The senior forward from nearby Diamond Bar also had a big part in the Titans' offense last weekend, putting up a pair of key scores in Fullerton's wins over Northridge and Riverside. His first of the season on a header in the 64th minute brought the Titans all the way back from a 4-1 deficit, tying the match with the Matadors with 26 minutes to play and then added the first goal of the match in the 69th minute of a 3-2 win over UC Riverside. Campbell had entered the season with just one career goal prior to his outburst and became only the ninth different player to find the back of the net this season.
BLANCO THE HERO: With his double-overtime game-winner against UC Riverside on Saturday, Blanco netted his first goal since a 2-1 overtime win against San Diego on Sept. 23 and became the fifth different Titan to score a game-winning goal in 2012.
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: Statistically, Fullerton has been a second-half squad in 2012, scoring 19 of its 24 goals and taking 158 of its 240 shots (66%) in the second half or later this season. The Titans have been outscored, 16-5, and surrendering 35 more shots in the first 45 minutes compared to just a one-goal (16-15) advantage in the second period and a 3-0 lead in overtime. However, it has been a big hole for Cal State Fullerton to dig out of as the Titans are just 3-10-1 this season when trailing or tied at halftime, winning for only the second time this season when behind at the break against Cal State Northridge, trailing 3-1 at halftime before rallying for their 5-4 victory.
FAN APPRECIATION: Cal State Fullerton's doubleheaders with the women's team on Sept. 28 & 30 drew the Titan faithful to Titan Stadium in droves as Friday night's clash with Cal Poly brought in 1,182 fans while the battle against No. 3 UC Santa Barbara attracted 1,002 fans to the stands. The two crowds were the highest for a men's soccer home match in over two years dating back to a 3-2 loss to Southern California rival UCLA on Sept. 26, 2010 -- a match that drew 1,208 fans.
MISSED IT BY *THAT* MUCH: Fullerton's 2-1 loss to UC Irvine on Oct. 13 marked the seventh time in 10 defeats this season that the Titans have gone down by a single goal and the seventh time in 17 matches that a Fullerton match has been decided by a 2-1 score.
STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY, SIR!: The Titans have committed the most fouls in the league entering this weekend's contests (243) and rank fourth in the Big West with 32 yellow cards -- just three behind Riverside for the top spot.