Cal Poly Hosts Sacramento State as Big West Tournament Race Tightens
COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (pdf)
VIDEO PREVIEWS: PAUL HOLOCHER | GEORGE MALKI
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A four-match unbeaten run has placed the Cal Poly men's soccer program in prime position for a Big West Conference Tournament slot as the Mustangs complete the 2012 regular season with three games during an eight-day span. First up for Cal Poly (9-5-1, 4-2-1) is a showdown against Sacramento State (7-6-2, 4-2-1) on Saturday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The Mustangs and Hornets jointly occupy second place in the Big West North Division standings on 13 points, two shy of leader UC Davis (7-5-4, 5-2-0). No. 25 UC Santa Barbara (9-3-3, 3-3-1) props up the four-team table with just 10 points. The top two finishers in both the North and South Division standings qualify for the Nov. 7 and 10 Big West Tournament.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Dave Grant returns to the headset to provide play-by-play detail of Cal Poly's matchup against Sacramento State for GoPoly.com HERE. The pre-match show, which includes an interview with seventh-year Mustang head coach Paul Holocher, gets underway 20 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff time. Live stats from Saturday's contest are also available HERE.
GET INVOLVED WITH THE MUSTANGS: Cal Poly broadcaster Dave Grant will take in-game comments and questions via Twitter during each Mustang broadcast this season. Follow and Tweet him @DaveCPMustangs.
CAL POLY VERSUS SACRAMENTO STATE: The Mustangs are unbeaten during their last five matchups against Sacramento State, dating to a 2-1 home triumph on Sept. 12, 2003. The two programs drew 1-1 at Hornet Stadium on Oct. 12 with junior forward Mackenzie Pridham's 67th-minute goal canceling out Sacramento State senior forward Max Alvarez's 49th-minute penalty. The last matchup between the two sides at Spanos Stadium ended in a 4-0 victory for Cal Poly on Sept. 18, 2009 (a win junior midfielder Mike Hocker capped with his first collegiate goal). Overall, Cal Poly holds a 7-4-2 series advantage against the Hornets.
HISTORY ON THE HORIZON: Cal Poly requires just two more victories to match the program's single season record of 11, established by the 2007 Mustang squad and equalized in 2008. The program record for Big West points is 22, compiled by the 2007 Mustangs. The 2012 squad can equalize that mark by winning their final three matches. Cal Poly also recorded 19 points in 2009.
MUSTANGS STRAP ON SCORING BOOTS IN 2012: After scoring just 15 times in 18 games last year, the Mustangs have already notched 22 goals through 15 games in 2012. Cal Poly enjoyed just three multi-goal games last year, but has already notched six multi-goal outings in 2012.
DISCIPLINARY UPDATE: Freshman defender Kody Wakasa sits just one yellow card away from a one-match suspension after earning his fourth yellow of 2012 during Cal Poly's Oct. 19 victory at No. 16 UC Santa Barbara. Wakasa is the only Mustang on four yellow cards.
PRIDHAM PRETTY GOOD IN FRONT OF GOAL: With nine goals this season – including six in his opening seven Big West contests – junior forward Mackenzie Pridham enters Saturday's matchup versus Sacramento State as the second-leading scorer among conference players and 26th-leading scorer among NCAA Division I players. Pridham also leads the conference with five game-winning goals, ranks second in points (19) and fourth in shot attempts (47). Pridham, the first Cal Poly player in nine years with a nine-goal season, requires just another goal to become the first Mustang since Clay Harty in 1996 to enjoy a double-digit scoring season (only two different Mustangs have registered a 10-goal season in 19 years at the Division I level). With 11 career goals, Pridham needs just one more to move into seventh place on the Cal Poly career scoring chart. Pridham, who scored twice during victories at Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 28) and versus UC Irvine (Oct. 7), is the first Mustang since Patrick Sigler in 2008 to enjoy two multi-goal games during one season.
MUSTANGS IN GOOD HANDS WITH HAMILTON: After chalking up a career-high 11 saves during Cal Poly's 2-1 victory at No. 16 UC Santa Barbara (Oct. 19) and recording an aggregate .938 save percentage and 0.48 goals against average during a two-game span, freshman goalkeeper Wade Hamilton earned Big West Defensive Player of the Week praise on Monday. Hamilton's 11 saves during 96 minutes of action at UC Santa Barbara ranked as the highest single-game total by a Mustang goalkeeper since three-time All-Big West selection Patrick McLain recorded 11 against the Gauchos on Oct. 12, 2010. Hamilton, who recorded his second career clean sheet during Cal Poly's 1-0 home victory against UC Davis (Oct. 16), ranks second among Big West goalkeepers in save percentage (.795), third in goals against average (0.96) and fourth in saves per game (3.88). Entering Saturday's match versus Sacramento State, Hamilton has allowed just one goal from open play during his previous 309 minutes of action.
CAL POLY'S TABLE SETTERS: Senior midfielder Chris Gaschen tallied just one assist during the last two seasons, but enters Saturday's contest versus Sacramento State ranked fourth among Big West players with five assists – four of which have coming in winning efforts. Gaschen, an All-Big West honorable mention selection as a sophomore in 2010, ranks eighth in program history with 10 career assists. Gaschen has also netted two goals this season. In junior midfielders George Malki (above) and Mike Hocker and freshman winger Chase Minter, Cal Poly also features four players that rank ninth in Big West play with three assists apiece.
DEADBOLT DEFENSE: A year after establishing single season program records for fewest goals conceded (17, in 18 games) and fewest goals allowed per game (0.94), Cal Poly's defense has conceded just 15 goals (1.00 per game) and 72 total shots on target (4.8) through the opening 15 matches of 2012. During a three-match stretch against Harvard (Sept. 21), No. 12 UCLA (Sept. 23) and Cal State Fullerton (Sept. 28), Cal Poly allowed just five total shots on target in 270 minutes. During a 1-1 draw at Sacramento State (Oct. 12), Cal Poly kept the Hornets without a shot attempt for the opening 48 minutes. Cal Poly enters Saturday's matchup versus Sacramento State having allowed just one goal from open play during the previous 311 minutes.
GOALS AT A PREMIUM: Not surprisingly, Cal Poly's success this season has hinged strongly on scoring the opening goal in a match. The Mustangs have scored the first goal during eight of 15 matches this season, chalking up a 7-1-0 record when taking the initial lead. Cal Poly's only loss this season when scoring first occurred at UC Riverside (Sept. 30), as the Mustangs led 1-0 and 2-1 before falling in overtime, 3-2. Conversely, Cal Poly is 2-4-1 when conceding the opening goal. Cal Poly's two victories when allowing the first goal were 2-1 triumphs against Harvard (Sept. 21) and No. 16 UC Santa Barbara (Oct. 19).
EFFICIENCY RATING: Despite ranking second from bottom among Big West programs in shots generated per match (12.13), Cal Poly is fourth in conference play in goals scored per game (1.47).
ATTACKING MINDSET: Highlighted by a season-high seven infractions during a 1-0 victory against Valparaiso (Sept. 9) and six during a 1-0 loss versus No. 12 UCLA (Sept. 23), Cal Poly ranks second among Big West programs with 40 offsides infractions in 2012.
MUSTANGS ON THE SPOT: Cal Poly has converted 10 of its previous 11 penalty attempts, dating to the start of the 2009 season. A perfect 5-for-5 from the spot in 2009, the Mustangs converted all three penalty attempts in 2010. George Malki, the only current player on the Mustang roster to have taken a collegiate penalty, missed during a 3-1 loss against Denver last year to break Cal Poly's streak of eight-successive converted attempts.
FORTRESS SPANOS: Eight of Cal Poly's opening 14 matches this season kicked off inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium, a home where the Mustangs are 35-12-8 since the venue's 2007 opening. During the past six seasons, the Mustangs have recorded 21 shutout victories at home while Cal Poly's goalkeepers have kept 25 clean sheets. Additionally, Cal Poly has drawn 1,000-plus spectators during 42 of 55 matches at Spanos Stadium and twice sold out the 11,075-capacity complex.
SPANOS STADIUM – WHERE ATTENDANCE RECORDS GO TO DIE: Six of the top 26 best-attended regular season matches in the history of collegiate soccer have occurred at Alex G. Spanos Stadium and all have been recorded since the start of the 2007 season. In total, Cal Poly has been involved in 10 of the top 26 best-attended regular season matches.
HELD IN HIGH REGARD: The Mustangs are 9-15-8 against nationally-ranked opponents under Paul Holocher. Cal Poly's last win against a ranked program was a 2-1, come-from-behind home victory at then-No. 16 UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 19. Cal Poly's 1-0 Big West-opening victory at No. 7 UC Irvine on Sept. 28, 2011 remains the only triumph against a top-10 opponent in program history.
MUSTANGS FACE NATION'S FINEST IN 2012: In what has become a hallmark of head coach Paul Holocher's seven-season tenure, Cal Poly is again facing one of the more testing schedules in Division I soccer during the 2012 campaign. Continuing with a Nov. 3 regular season home finale against No. 25 UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly will contest a minimum of four matches this season against opponents ranked or receiving votes in NCSAA/Continental Tire top 25 poll.
LOOKING AHEAD (OCT. 29-NOV. 4): Cal Poly completes its 2012 regular season schedule when visiting Big West North Division leader UC Davis on Wednesday, Oct. 31 before hosting No. 25 UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Nov. 3. UC Davis visits UC Santa Barbara on Sunday, Oct. 28. UC Santa Barbara hosts Stanford on Friday before welcoming the Aggies.
ETC.: A 3-1 victory at San Jose State (Sept. 2) snapped a seven-match winless slide, Cal Poly's lengthiest since dropping 10-straight decisions between Sept. 28-Nov. 4, 2005 … Cal Poly furthered its unbeaten streak versus San Jose State to seven matches with a 3-1 road victory (Sept. 2) … Mackenzie Pridham's goal on 108 seconds at San Jose State (Sept. 2) was the quickest strike by a Mustang since Barrett Park scored 58 seconds into a 3-2 loss at New Hampshire (Aug. 25, 2006) … goals 57 seconds apart by Mackenzie Pridham and Chris Gaschen at San Jose State (Sept. 2) marked the shortest interval between scores under seventh-year head coach Paul Holocher … Wade Hamilton's 88th-minute penalty save against Army (Sept. 16) marked the first penalty save by a Mustang goalkeeper since Patrick McLain stopped a UC Irvine attempt on Oct. 21, 2009 … Cal Poly's 2-1 victory against Harvard (Sept. 21) was the program's first come-from-behind win and first victory when trailing at the half this season … Cal Poly's five-match winning streak from Sept. 2-21 was the program's lengthiest since winning five start from Oct. 14-30, 1994 … a 3-2 overtime loss at UC Riverside (Sept. 30) marked Cal Poly's first defeat when leading at halftime (Mustangs led 2-1) … Cal Poly's 2-1 overtime victory at UC Santa Barbara's was the program's first win at Harder Stadium in 14 years and 14 attempts.