Titans Challenge UCSB

Oct. 11, 2011

Goleta, Calif. - AT A GLANCE: Fullerton travels to No. 12-ranked UC Santa Barbara for a Tuesday night Big West Conference match before hosting UC Riverside on Saturday night.

CAL STATE FULLERTON (6-3-2, 0-2-0): Despite going winless (0-2-1) the last two weeks, at 6-3-2 the Titans still are off to their best 11-match start since the 1999 team opened 9-2. The Titans have won two tournament championships -- the Labor Day Classic at CSU Northridge (1-0-1) via goal differential and the Nike Invitational in Las Vegas (2-0).

UC SANTA BARBARA (8-3-1, 1-2-0): The Gauchos got off to a tough start but last week won a pair of overtime matches -- 3-2 over No. 3-ranked Akron and 2-1 at UC Davis for their first Big West Conference win after losses to Cal State Northrige and UC Irvine.

UC RIVERSIDE (6-4-1, 1-2-0): The Highlanders are off to one of their best starts in years but are coming off a 5-0 loss at Cal Poly. UCR hosts UC Irvine on Wednesday.

SERIES HISTORIES: The Gauchos have won 13 of the last 14 meetings to take a 26-22-2 lead in the series. Fullerton has not scored more than one goal in each of the last 12 meetings but claimed a 1-0 overtime win at home last Sept. 29. Fullerton is 0-10 at UCSB since a 1-0 overtime win in 2000. Fullerton holds a 13-8-2 advantage all-time over UCR but the Highlanders won the last meeting, 3-2, in Fullerton, to snap a 6-match winless streak.

THE POLLS: The Titans cracked the Soccer America Top 25 at No. 24 after Sept. 11 but fell out of the poll after splitting two road matches the following week. Fullerton is receiving votes in the College Soccer News poll after being No. 28 a week ago. UCSB is No. 13 in College Soccer News and the NSCAA coaches poll and No. 12 in SoccerAmerica. Santa Barbara (No. 15) and CSF (No. 41) are both included in TopDrawerSoccer.com's "Tournament 48" Field.

GOAL SCORERS: Nine different Titans have scored goals led by Kevin Venegas with 5 and Ian Ramos, Nick Posthuma, Ritchie Gonzalez and Jesse Escalante with 2 each. Venegas and Posthuma lead the way with 3 assists each. With 13 points, Venegas leads the team.

GAIN ONE, LOSE ONE: The Titans will welcome back leading scorer Kevin Venegas, who had to sit out the UC Irvine match due to a red card vs. Cal State Northride. But the Titans will miss Michael Denny, who picked up a fifth yellow card vs. UCI.

STINGY KEEPER: Despite allowing seven goals in the last three games, senior goalkeeper Trevor Whiddon still sports a respectable 0.97 goals against average and he has 5 shutouts. Last season he totaled only four shutouts and he began this season with only six in his career.

ROSTER DEPTH: The Titans have managed to utilize 23 players so far this season. Six -- Aguero, Alvarez, Birt, Denny, Reiss and Whiddon -- have started all 11 matches.

HOME FIELD DISADVANTAGE: Fullerton is a combined 8-7-3 away from Titan Stadium in 2010 and 2011 but only 5-8-1 at home during the same time period.

PRE-SEASON PICKS: The Titans were forecast for third place in the annual Big West coaches' pre-season poll. Defending tourney champion UC Santa Barbara is the favorite followed by Cal Poly, Fullerton, 2010 regular season champion UC Irvine, Cal State Northridge, UC Riverside and UC Davis. Big West teams currently are a combined 34-16-9 (.653) in non-conference play.

LOOKING AHEAD: Sacramento State will join the Big West Conference as an associate member for men's soccer beginning with the 2012 schedule. Currently, there is a 7-team alignment with each team playing 10 games -- home-and-home with four foes and single games with the remaining two.