So Cal powers await unbeaten Aggies

Connor Willis-Hong's game-winner against UC Riverside made him the ninth different Aggie to find the back of the net this season.
Oct. 8, 2014

THIS WEEK...
UC Davis (4-0-7, 2-0) at #11 UC Irvine (8-1-2, 0-1-1)
Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014 | 7 p.m.
Anteater Stadium
Irvine, Calif.
Game Coverage: Live StatsUC Davis Notes Get Acrobat Reader | UC Irvine Notes

UC Davis (4-0-7, 2-0) at CSUN (4-6-1, 0-2)
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 | 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field
Northridge, Calif.
Game Coverage: Live Stats | CSUN AudioUC Davis Notes Get Acrobat Reader | CSUN Notes

KICK OFF: One of only two unbeaten teams remaining in the nation, the streaking UC Davis men's soccer team (4-0-7 overall, 2-0 in the Big West Conference) heads to Southern California for a pair of matches against two of the league's top teams. The Aggies face-off against No. 11 UC Irvine on Thursday night (Oct. 9), before heading to the San Fernando Valley to take on CSUN on Saturday (Oct. 11) to close out the weekend. Both matches are scheduled to kick-off at 7 p.m.

WHEN AND WHERE?: The Aggies' schedule has undergone a pair of changes for their matches against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 2 and Cal Poly on Nov. 5. Originally scheduled as night games at Aggie Stadium, home of UC Davis football, the two matches will not be played at the Aggie Soccer Field at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

IN THE POLLS: UC Irvine is ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation according to College Soccer News, as well as No. 10 according to Top Drawer Soccer, No. 11 by the NSCAA, and No. 18 by Soccer America... UC Irvine is ranked No. 3 in the Far West Region according to the NSCAA while UC Davis is No. 10 in that poll... UC Davis, which is receiving votes in this week's Top Drawer Soccer poll for the second time this season, and CSUN are unranked nationally entering this week's contests.

BE A FOLLOWER: Fans can keep up with the latest in UC Davis Athletics by following us on Facebook (facebook.com/ucdavisaggies) and Twitter (@UCDavisAggies). Live in-game updates are also available on Twitter by following us @UCDavisInGame.

I NEED STATS, STAT!: Barring technical difficulties, new-look live stats for all UC Davis home games, as well as selected road contests, are available on your computer and mobile device courtesy the StatBroadcast platform. Visit the men's soccer schedule page at UCDavisAggies.com or the StatBroadcast landing page at UCDavisLiveStats.com to access the links when the games begin.

"O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!": To begin the season, seniors Ramon Martin Del Campo and Brian Ford will serve as team captains.

UC IRVINE BRIEFLY: The Anteaters slipped from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend with their 1-0 loss at UC Santa Barbara, but UC Irvine still enters the week with a stellar 8-1-2 overall record and an 0-1-1 mark in Big West play... UC Irvine has outscored opponents, 22-12, this season, putting nearly half of its 159 shots on frame... Eduardo Calzada and Gor Kirakosyan share the team lead with five goals and a pair of assists apiece... Cameron Iwasa leads the team with 38 shots... Junior Michael Breslin has started all 11 matches in net, posting a 1.02 goals against average and a pair of shutouts to go with 36 saves and a .750 save percentage.

CSUN BRIEFLY: The Matadors enter the week with a 4-6-1 overall record, but are 0-2 to start Big West play following a pair of 2-1 losses on the road at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly over the weekend... CSUN, which faces Sacramento State on Thursday, has lost its last three contests -- including a 3-0 result against top-ranked UCLA -- dating back to its last victory at home against Bakersfield in double overtime on Sept. 25... The Matadors have played all but three of their contests this season away from home, posting a 2-1 record at the Matador Soccer Field... Five different players have found the back of the net, but senior MAC Hermann Award candidate Sagi Lev-Ari has accounted for seven of the team's 11 scores this season, putting 14 of his team-high 28 shots on frame... Goalkeeper Adam Hobbs has started all but two matches this season, posting a 1.05 goals against average and three shutouts to go with 23 saves and a .697 save percentage.

SERIES NOTES: Dating back to the 1990 season, when full year-by-year records are available, UC Davis trails in the all-time series with UC Irvine, 7-8-3, after the Anteaters snapped a three-match losing streak to the Aggies with their win in the semifinals of last year's Big West Tournament... UC Davis leads the series, 6-4-2, since joining the Big West in 2007... The Aggies are 4-6-1 in Irvine, winning three of their last four trips to Orange County... Thursday marks the 10th time in the last 11 meetings that UC Davis will face a ranked UC Irvine squad... UC Davis leads the all-time series with CSUN, 7-6-2, but the Matadors have won the last three meetings dating back to a 2-1 overtime win by the Aggies in 2011... The Aggies lead the series, 6-4-1, since joining the Big West, including a 3-1-1 record in Northridge.

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: Thanks to its victories over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside last weekend, UC Davis remained unbeaten on the year and joins Big Ten power Penn State (10-0-1) as the nation's only remaining unbeaten teams entering play this week. The Nittany Lions play at Maryland in their only match of the week on Sunday (Oct. 12).

ON THE ROAD AGAIN...: Break out your copy of Willie Nelson's Greatest Hits... you're gonna need it. This weekend's trip to Southern California kicks-off a string that will see the Aggies play five of their next six contests away from the friendly confines of Aggie Soccer Field, where they are 2-0-4 this season. UC Davis' only home match during that stretch comes on Oct. 18 against Big West North Division rival UC Santa Barbara.

BIG TIME TO START BIG WEST: Wins over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside gave UC Davis its first 2-0 start in conference play since becoming full-fledged members of the league in 2007. The Aggies opened conference play unbeaten in their first two league contests only one other time: posting a 1-1 draw at UC Irvine and a 2-0 win versus Cal Poly in 2008 -- a season in which UC Davis opened conference play with a 3-0-2 mark en route to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

NINE(TY) IS FINE(TY): When the final whistle blew at the end of 90 minutes in each of the Aggies matches last weekend, it may have come as a bit of a shock to the fans and student-athletes, who may have started to think that there were still 10 minutes of soccer to come. UC Davis' regulation wins over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside snapped a school-record string of seven consecutive double-overtime matches -- finishing in regulation for the first time since a 2-1 triumph over Canisius on Aug. 31 in Columbus, Ohio.

MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: Eight of the Aggies' 13 goals scored this season have come in the second half or later -- including a 7-3 scoring advantage in favor of UC Davis during the second period alone.

THREE'S A WIN: The Aggies' 3-1 win over Fullerton to kick-off last weekend marked only the second multi-goal match this season for UC Davis and the most goals scored since they posted a win over UC Riverside by the very same score in the first round of the Big West Tournament last season at Aggie Soccer Field.

NOT HALF BAD: When the Aggies headed into the locker room at the half with a 1-0 lead at the break against both Cal State Fullerton and Riverside last weekend, it marked the first two halftime leads for the Aggies this season.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: Following their 1-0 shutout win over UC Riverside, the Aggies improved to 3-0 in matches decided by a single goal this season and have won five straight one-goal contests dating back to last year.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB: Of the Aggies' four goals during their Big West opening weekend, three of them were new to the scoresheet as sophomore Connor Willis-Hong was joined by freshmen Kyle Higgins and Justin Kitts. For Willis-Hong, his first career goal came in his first career start against UC Riverside, while Higgins' strike doubled as his first career game-winner, finding the back of the net just 40 seconds after entering the match against Cal State Fullerton. Kitts, who has appeared in all 11 matches this season, also netted his first career goal, capping off the Aggies' win over the Titans with his goal with just 13 seconds remaining in the match.

"Q" IS THE "A" IN NET FOR UC DAVIS: Since taking over in net on Sept. 26 at San Francisco, Aggie sophomore goalkeeper Armando Quezada has been stellar between the pipes, surrendering just two goals (including one on a penalty) over a total of 400 minutes for a 0.45 goals against average, posting 12 saves and a pair of shutouts against the Dons and UC Riverside. He has stopped 86 percent of the shots he has faced, leading the league in GAA while standing second in save percentage, tied for seventh in saves per game, and tied for third in shutouts.

HOME SWEET STREAK: Following their first home victories of the year last weekend, the Aggies remained unbeaten in their last 10 home contests dating back to last season, posting a 4-0-6 mark in that span. UC Davis' last loss on its home pitch came on Oct. 26, 2013, against Causeway rival Sacramento State by a 1-0 score. Overall, the Aggies are a combined 92-43-19 (.659) at the Aggie Soccer Field in 17-plus seasons under the direction of Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer, including four straight winning seasons.

SAME STORY, DIFFERENT DAY: The Aggies must be thinking that the NCAA has changed the rules and soccer matches are now 110 minutes long. When the final horn sounded in its match against Saint Mary's on Sept. 28, UC Davis had wrapped up its school-record seventh consecutive double-overtime match, and its eighth in nine matches overall. Only the Aggies' 2-1 win over Canisius on Aug. 31 finished in regulation (until last weekend) as they have played all but 17 seconds of a possible 160 minutes of overtime this season. That's the equivalent of a regulation match (90 minutes), plus two overtimes (20), plus another half (45), plus another 4:43 tacked on for good measure.

YES, SIR, MAY WE PLAY ANOTHER?: The Aggies' eight overtime matches this season have them quickly closing in on the NCAA record for such games set by Saint Louis in 2003 and equalled by San Diego State in 2009 and UC Davis in 2011.

BOW, NECK, OR BOLO?: The Aggies' seven ties this season are just two shy of the NCAA single-season record previously accomplished three times. Providence College set the mark in 2005, followed by St. John's in 2009 and South Florida in 2013.

ONE IS THE LONLIEST NUMBER: It's also been the happiest for the Aggies' defense, which has been stout over the course of the team's last 18 matches, allowing multiple goals just once during that span -- the semifinals of the Big West Conference Tournament at UC Irvine. UC Davis, however, has scored two-or-more goals five times in that stretch -- proving more is merrier by winning all five -- while posting just a 2-2-9 mark in the remaining 13 contests.

DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP)... DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP): The eight goals allowed by the UC Davis defense are the fewest in the Big West Conference entering league play, while the Aggies also stand atop the league with a 0.63 goals against average.

RECYCLED NOTES
LEAGUE HONORS AGGIE DEFENDER: UC Davis senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo was named the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday afternoon after helping the Aggies handcuff a pair of West Coast Conference offenses last weekend. It is the first career weekly honor for the Chula Vista, California, native, becoming only the 12th different Aggie to earn the conference's weekly award and joining teammate Kris Schultz as honorees from UC Davis this season. Martin Del Campo led a defensive charge that limited San Francisco and Saint Mary's to a combined six shots on goal over 220 minutes of soccer, helping UC Davis forge a pair of draws. He also got into the act on the offensive end, converting a penalty kick in the 64th minute against the Gaels, giving the Aggies an early 1-0 lead on Sunday (more on that in a moment).

PROSPECTING: UC Davis senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo continues to garner attention an accolades with just two matches gone in the 2014 season, named to the SoccerByIves.net Top 40 Major League Soccer college draft prospects list. Martin Del Campo, who stands fourth on the list, is one of two Big West Conference players mentioned along with CSUN's Sagi Lev-Ari (No. 33). View the complete list at http://www.soccerbyives.net/2014/08/draft-college-prospects.html.

SCHULTZ STELLAR EN ROUTE TO WEEKLY HONORS: UC Davis junior goalkeeper Kris Schultz capped off a triumphant return in net on Monday afternoon, selected as the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday afternoon following his stellar weekend in helping the Aggies to an unbeaten start to 2014. Officially making his first appearance since Sept. 16, 2012, against SMU -- and only the second and third appearances of his career -- Schultz stymied the opposition this past weekend in Ohio en route to his all-tournament nod, posting a 0.45 goals against average in 200 minutes, making seven combined saves and posting a shutout of the host Buckeyes in the season opener while facing a barrage of 21 shots from the tournament hosts. The clean sheet was the first of his career while the four stops against Canisius were a career high.

AGGIES PICKED SECOND IN THE BIG WEST NORTH, FOURTH OVERALL: UC Davis was picked to finish second in the Big West Conference's North Division, and fourth overall, according to a vote of the league's head coaches released on Thursday afternoon (Aug. 21). The Aggies earned 20 points to finish behind only unanimous selection UC Santa Barbara, which received all eight first-place votes and 32 points overall to top the table. Cal Poly, with 19 points, and Sacramento State, with nine points, round out the North. In the South, CSUN topped the division with six first-place votes and 30 points overall, followed closely by UC Irvine, which earned a pair of first-place nods and 24 points. UC Riverside (14 points) and Cal State Fullerton (12) were picked third and fourth, respectively.

MARTIN DEL CAMP-"ING" WITH THE U.S.: In one of the better "What Did You Do Last Summer" stories for the Aggies, senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo had the "arduous" task of traveling to the Bahamas for a five-day camp with the U.S. U-23 Men's National Team and a friendly against the Bahamas National Team. One of 19 players (and seven defenders) originally called up, Martin del Campo entered the match against the Bahamas one minute into the second half and tallied an assist as part of an eventual 5-1 win for the Americans. He was discovered playing with his San Jose Earthquakes' U-23 Premier Development League squad, helping lead them to a 7-4-3 record and a third-place finish in the Western Conference in their inaugural season. He was an All-Premier Development League (best 11 players in the entire league) and All-Western Conference First Team selection and was one of three finalists for the league's Young (U-21) Player of the Year Award.

DAVIS DUO EARNS BIG WEST PRESEASON HONORS: Along with the preseason prognostications, the league's eight head coaches also bestowed preseason all-conference honors on 11 of the Big West's best, including the Aggies' Ramon Martin Del Campo and Matt Wiesenfarth.

MORE FOR THE MANTEL: UC Davis seniors Matt Sheldon, Brian Ford, and Ramon Martin Del Campo were named to the first team, while senior Matt Wiesenfarth added second-team laurels on Aug. 13, as College Sports Madness announced its preseason All-Big West Conference selections. The Aggies' three first-team selections match Cal State Northridge for the most in the league, while the four overall honorees stand behind only the Matadors and UC Santa Barbara, which finished with five selections apiece. For a complete list of the honorees, visit http://www.collegesportsmadness.com/article/9616.

ALL-TOURNEY HONOR ROLL: Junior midfielders Lucas Mohageg and Ian Palmer represented the Aggies on the all-tournament team of the Copa de Causeway, after accounting for both of UC Davis' goals  in 1-1 draws against Air Force and Grand Canyon. The duo joined teammates Kris Schultz, Ramon Martin Del Campo, and Ryan Gross, as all-tournament honorees this season after the trio were named to the 11-man all-tournament team at the Bert & Iris Wolstein Classic earlier this year at Ohio State.

TOP SHELF TALENT ACCORDING TO TOP DRAWER: Building upon what has already been an impressive preseason, senior defender Ramon Martin Del Campo was named to Top Drawer Soccer's preseason list of the top 100 collegiate players in the United States. In a ranking that will be updated weekly, Martin Del Campo was one of five Big West players selected to the list, joining Cal State Northridge duo Sagi Lev-Ari and Edwin Rivas, UC Irvine's Mario Ortiz, and UC Santa Barbara's Ismaila Jome. Both Jome, a sophomore midfielder, and Lev-Ari, a senior forward, are also included on the "watch list" for this year's MAC Hermann Trophy awarded to the nation's top player. Fans can take a look at the entire list via the Top Drawer Soccer website at http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/college-soccer-articles/college-soccer-preseason-top-100-players_aid33551.

A QUICK LOOK AT THE AGGIES: UC Davis returns its top five scorers and 12 letter winners (six starters) off of last season's squad that finished 9-9-3 overall and 4-4-2 in Big West Conference play, gaining the semifinals of the league tournament for the second-straight season. Five all-conference honorees are among the group, led by senior strikers Matt Sheldon and Matt Wiesenfarth (more on them later) and senior defenders Brian Ford and Ramon Martin Del Campo. Behind them, the loss of record-setting goalkeeper Omar Zeenni looms large, however, redshirt sophomore Armando Quezada is poised to take over the reins after posting a 1.13 goals against average in five appearances -- including a pair of starts against nationally-ranked UC Santa Barbara. Redshirt junior Kris Schultz (1 career start vs. SMU in 2012) and junior John Piasta will push Quezada in the quest for the starting job between the pipes.

BY THE NUMBERS: UC Davis returns all but three of its 20 goals scored (85%), 10 of its 18 assists (56%), and 163 of its 286 shots taken (57%), from last season's campaign. What does that all mean? We don't know, but numbers are fun.

COMING "HOME": After two seasons as an assistant coach with the women's soccer program at Augsburg College in Minnesota, former UC Davis letter winner Chris Leer returns to his alma mater this season as an assistant under Head Coach Dwayne Shaffer. Leer played under Shaffer from 2006-09, helping the Aggies to a pair of NCAA Division I Tournament berths in 2007 (first round) and 2008 (second round) while earning All-Big West Conference honorable mention honors as a senior. He finished his UC Davis career with 13 goals and seven assists (33 points), tying for second on the team in goals (5) as a sophomore and finishing second in both goals (4) and points (12) as a senior while starting all 19 matches. The Danville, Calif., native graduated from UC Davis with a degree in communication and sociology in 2011, earning his master's degree in kinesiology/sports and exercise science from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2013.

SAME FACE, NEW PLACE: Long-time assistant Jason Hotaling moves up one spot on the bench beginning with the 2014 campaign, promoted to the position of Assistant Head Coach under Shaffer with the departure of Eric Mild, who left to take over the men's soccer program at Pacific University in Oregon. Now entering his 10th season on the Aggies' sideline, Hotaling joined the UC Davis staff in 2005, reuniting with his former coach in Shaffer, whom he played for at Santa Rosa JC from 1991-92. He continues to manage the Aggies' recruiting efforts and training the team's goalkeepers.

THAT'S FRESH... MAN: Legendary college football coach Joe Paterno once said, "It's the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back." However, with 10 new faces on the roster for the 2014 season, names on the back might be a good idea to know who's who. The Aggies' 10 freshmen make up the largest incoming freshman class since UC Davis welcomed in 10 true freshmen in 2003.