Big West Title on the Line This Weekend as Titans face Local Rivals

Big West Title on the Line This Weekend as Titans face Local Rivals

Oct. 26, 2005


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The race for the Big West Conference regular season title and the top-seed in next weekend's Big West Tournament is on the line this weekend as the Cal State Fullerton women's soccer team (13-3 overall, 4-1 in the Big West) gears up for its final two matches of the 2005 regular season. The Titans host UC Irvine on Friday night (Oct. 28) in a slightly adjusted kickoff time of 7:15 p.m. in order to accomdate "Senior Night" festivities which will begin at 6:45 p.m. Fullerton then heads north for a possible title-deciding match-up with Long Beach State at George Allen Field at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 30).

Cal State Fullerton currently stands in second place in the Big West standings entering the final weekend of the season, just two points back of first-place UC Riverside, which defeated the Titans on an own goal back on Oct. 2. Fullerton needs some help to win its second straight conference regular season title, but can clinch the top seed and its second-straight title with two wins this weekend. Here's how the Titans' title hopes could play out:

&\#149; If Fullerton defeats UC Irvine, and Long Beach State defeats UC Riverside on Friday, the Titans will clinch at least a share of the regular season title with the Fullerton-Long Beach State winner deciding home field advantage for the Big West Tournament.

&\#149; If Fullerton defeats UC Irvine, and UC Riverside defeats Long Beach State, the Titans will need to defeat Long Beach State to win the title outright and clinch the No. 1 seed.

&\#149; If Fullerton defeats UC Irvine, and UC Riverside and Long Beach State tie, the Titans will need a win or a tie against Long Beach State to clinch the title and home-field advantage outright.

UC Irvine ( enters the weekend as one of the hottest teams in the Big West Conference after upsetting nationally ranked Long Beach State last Sunday. The Anteaters (5-11-2, 1-4-1) are led offensively by freshman Megan Ortiz, who has scored six times and assisted on three others, and Britney Webster, who has four goals and three assists. Goalkeepers Rosie Aguilera and Erin Henry have split time in net with Aguilera leading the way with a 1.34 goals against average and 42 saves.

Fullerton holds a slim 5-4-2 lead in the all-time series with UCI, having won the last four straight meetings by a combined score of 12-3. The Titans downed the Anteaters, 1-0, in overtime last season at Anteater Stadium to clinch a share of the Big West title on a goal by current team manager Vanessa Valentine.

Long Beach State ( enters the weekend with a 12-4-1 overall record and a perfect 9-0 mark at home entering Sunday's meeting with the Titans. The 49ers need just one point this weekend to earn a berth in the Big West Tournament. Freshman Kim Silos leads the way offensively with 10 goals and five assists for a team-best 25 points. Fellow frosh Hayley Bolt has scored seven times and assisted on eight others (22 points). Freshman goalkeeper Liz Ramos leads the league in goals against average (0.63) and shutouts (8).

Fullerton holds a 4-3 record all-time against Long Beach State, but the two schools have split the last four meetings. The Titans won 3-0 in Long Beach last season to snap a two-match losing streak to the 49ers.

Cal State Fullerton continued to rise in the national polls after its victory over UC Davis last Sunday, jumping three spots to a program-best No. 18 in the nation according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The Titans also got a three-spot boost to No. 22 in the nation according to Soccer Buzz and jumped back into the top 25 according to Soccer Times, ranking No. 24 entering this week. Soccer America continues to be the odd poll out as the magazine did not rank the Titans in the top 25 nationally for the fourth consecutive week.

Regionally, the Titans reached another milestone as they took over sole possession of No. 6 in the West according to the NSCAA - marking the highest regional rank in the program's history - and reached No. 7 in the West according to Soccer Buzz - the highest regional ranking by that publication since its polls debuted in 1996.

For the first time in the history of the program, all of Cal State Fullerton's women's soccer home matches will be broadcast live over the Internet at Students Mike Martinez and Brian Reed will provide the commentary.

With one more victory this season, the Titans will match the school single-season record for wins set by the 1995 squad which went 14-5 overall. With the 13 victories this season, the Titans have already matched the highest win total in Head Coach Ali Khosroshahin's five seasons, equalling the 13 victories in his rookie season of 2001 when Fullerton won the Big West title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Cal State Fullerton has reached 10 or more victories in four of the last five seasons, improving to 58-31-4 (.645) in that span.

The Titans extended their season-best winning streak to five consecutive matches on Sunday with their win over UC Davis, breaking a pattern that had Fullerton losing each of its three matches following four-game winning streaks. The five-match winning streak is the longest for the Titans since the end of last year when they closed out the regular season with wins in their last seven matches to tie a school record also set in 2001 and 2002.

Coincidentally, if Fullerton is to match that streak this season, the Titans will have to do it against the same two opponents that accounted for the sixth and seventh victories of that streak in 2004: UC Irvine and Long Beach State.

Thanks to freshman Erica Peschken's first two career goals in the closing minutes against the Aggies on Sunday, the Titans now have 11 different players who have scored goals this season - 10 of those with two or more goals, which matches the 1996 for the "most diverse offense" in the program's history. The 1996 squad had 12 players find the back of the net - 10 with multiple scores.

Cal State Fullerton senior defender Marlene Sandoval returns to the Titans' lineup this weekend after travelling with the Mexican Women's National Team to South Carolina for an international friendly against the United States. The Americans got the best of Sandoval (who started and played all 90 minutes) and her teammates, defeating Mexico by a 3-0 tally in front of 4,261 fans and an ESPN2 national audience.

The Titans continue to punish opposing sides in the second half this season, outscoring the opposition by a 24-6 margin (including an overtime goal) after the break. Of Fullerton's last 16 goals scored, 10 of those have come in the second half en route to a 6-1 record in those matches. At one point this season, the Titans' scored 11 straight goals in the second half beginning on Sept. 9 against Gonzaga through their Sept. 25 victory over Loyola Marymount.

The Titans' shutout streak stopped at two matches, but the Fullerton defense remains atop the Big West Conference. The Titans lead the conference in fewest goals allowed (11) and has the league's best goals against average (0.68).

Sunday's match at Long Beach State will put the Big West Conference's top two goalkeepers in the Titans' Karen Bardsley and 49ers freshman Liz Ramos. Ramos is statistically the better of the pair, edging Bardsley in goals agaist average (0.63 to 0.68), save percentage (.828 to .791) and shutouts (8-7).


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