Desperate Gauchos Visit
Oct. 28, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. -
AT A GLANCE: Fullerton tries to keep its mathematical hopes alive Saturday night for a berth in the Big West Conference post-season tournament when the Titans host pre-season favorite UC Santa Barbara, which currently finds itself out of the 4-team post-season tournament picture.
FREE ADMISSION IF COSTUMED: All fans in Halloween costumes will be admitted free.
CAL STATE FULLERTON (7-5-4, 1-4-2): At 7-5-4 the Titans are trying to nail down their first winning season since 2000 (15-6-1) despite a 1-4-2 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 SANTA BARBARA (10-5-2, 3-4-0): The Gauchos had never lost as many as four conference matches in the modern-day lineup and had lost only five total in the last three seasons (20-5-5) combined. They snapped a 2-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over front-running UC Davis on Wednesday night. Tim Pontius scored two of the goals but the season leader is Luis Silva with 11 (1 vs. Davis), David Opoku has 7 and Sam Garza has 6. Andre Grandt has played every minute of the season in the net with a 1.22 GAA. UCSB remains nationally ranked at Nos. 19 thru 24 in the various polls.
TIGHT RACE: UC Irvine holds first place in the Big West by 1 point over UC Davis with two matches to go for each. From third place through sixth place the spread is only 2 points -- from UC Riverside with 11 to UCSB and Cal Poly with 9 points.
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.
SERIES HISTORY: With a 6-0 win in Goleta on Oct. 11, the Gauchos have won 14 of the last 15 meetings to take a 27-22-2 lead in the series. Fullerton has not scored more than one goal in each of the last 13 meetings but claimed a 1-0 overtime win at home on Sept. 29 of last season.
GOAL SCORERS: Ten different Titans have scored goals led by Kevin Venegas with 6 and Oscar Aguero with 3 followed by 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 first 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 four goals -- a free kick by Michael Denny vs. UC Irvine, a diving header by Kevin Venegas, an unmarked "gimme" by Jameson Campbell vs. Cal Poly and a turnover fed goal by Oscar Aguero at UCR -- in their last eight matches after finding the net 18 times in the first 8 matches.
NOT FULL STRENGTH: The Titans have played three of the past six 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. Injuries are the new develop with Jonathan Birt and Fermin Villalba doubtful for UCSB due to injuries suffered at UCR.
ROSTER DEPTH: The Titans have managed to utilize 23 players so far this season. Four -- Alvarez, Birt, Reiss and Whiddon -- have started all 16 matches. A total of 19 players have made at least one start.
NO FIELD ADVANTAGE: Fullerton is a combined 8-9-4 away from Titan Stadium in 2010 and 2011 and 6-8-2 at home during the same time period.
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.