Oct. 25, 2011
Riverside, Calif. -
AT A GLANCE: Fullerton tries to keep its flickering hopes alive for a berth in the Big West Conference post-season tournament when the Titans travel to UC Riverside, which is enjoying its best Div. I season ever and is coming off the completion of an inaugural series sweep of UC Santa Barbara. Fullerton is unbeaten (3-0-2) in its last five trips to Riverside.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (7-5-3, 1-4-1): At 7-5-3 the Titans are trying to nail down their first winning season since 2000 (15-6-1) despite a 1-4-1 record in conference play. 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 RIVERSIDE (8-5-2, 3-3-1): The Highlanders have won more matches than in any previous season and are in third place in the Big West standings after beating UC Santa Barbara for the first time in Goleta, 3-2, on Saturday. Cesar Diaz Pizarro is the leading scorer with 7 goals and 16 points and he delivered the game winner vs. the Gauchos. Five other players have 2 goals including Ben Sperber, who provided the UCR goal that tied the previous match between these two teams on Oct. 15 in what became a 1-1 tie. Cody Suppe is 8-3-2 in the net with a 1.36 GAA.
TIGHT RACE: UC Irvine and UC Davis share first place in the Big West with 15 points on identical 5-2 records. UCR is third with 10 points followed by Cal State Northridge and Cal Poly with 9 each, UCSB with 6 and CSF with 4.
SERIES HISTORY: Fullerton holds a 13-8-3 advantage all-time over UCR and is 4-1-2 in the last seven meetings including a 1-1 tie on Oct. 15 in Titan Stadium. Fullerton is 3-0-2 on its last five trips to Riverside.
GOAL SCORERS: Ten different Titans have scored goals led by Kevin Venegas with 6 and Oscar Aguero, Ian Ramos, Nick Posthuma, Ritchie Gonzalez and Jesse Escalante with 2 each. Venegas leads the way with 4 assists while Posthuma and Jameson Campbell each have three. With 16 points, Venegas has more than twice as many points as any of his teammates.
GOAL STOPPER: With his sixth shutout of this season vs. Cal Poly on Oct. 19, Trevor Whiddon has doubled his Titan career total to 12. The school records are 9 for a season (Mike Ammann in 1993) and 19 for a career (1991-93).
QUICK STRIKE: If Oscar Aguero's fans arrived late, they missed his two goals. He got his first 54 seconds into the UNLV match at Northridge and he bested that vs. Denver with a goal 23 seconds into the contest.
SCORING DROUGHT: The Titans have managed only three goals -- a free kick by Michael Denny vs. UC Irvine, a diving header by Kevin Venegas and an unmarked "gimme" by Jameson Campbell vs. Cal Poly -- in their last seven matches after finding the net 18 times in the first 8 matches.
NOT FULL STRENGTH: The Titans have played three of the past five matches without a key starter. Leading scorer Kevin Venegas missed the UC Irvine match due to a red card and Michael Denny (UCSB match) and Ritchie Gonzalez (match at UCI) each sat out due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
ROSTER DEPTH: The Titans have managed to utilize 23 players so far this season. Four -- Alvarez, Birt, Reiss and Whiddon -- have started all 15 matches. A total of 19 players have made at least one start.
NO FIELD ADVANTAGE: Fullerton is a combined 8-9-3 away from Titan Stadium in 2010 and 2011 and 6-8-2 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 was 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 34-17-9 (.642) 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.