Big West berth, seeding on the line in finale

Senior Matt Sheldon scored his 15th career goal last weekend against Sacramento State, matching teammate Lucas Mohageg for the most on the team in 2014.
Nov. 4, 2014

THIS WEEK...
Cal Poly (8-6-4, 3-4-2) at UC Davis (6-3-9, 4-3-2)
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 | 2 p.m.
Aggie Soccer Field
Davis, Calif.
Game Coverage: Live Stats | Live Audio

KICK OFF: It all comes down to this. Trying to find its footing following back-to-back losses for the first time in 2014, the postseason fate of the UC Davis men’s soccer team (6-3-9 overall, 4-3-2 in the Big West) will be decided in the final match of the regular season as the Aggies welcome Cal Poly to Northern California on Wednesday (Nov. 5) at 2 p.m.

IN THE POLLS: Neither UC Davis, nor Cal Poly, are ranked among the nation’s top 25 teams entering this week’s regular season finale. Despite the two losses, the Aggies remained among the Far West region’s best according to the NSCAA, entering the week ranked 10th in the region.

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.

THE BIG (WEST) PICTURE: There are a number of Big West Conference Tournament scenarios for UC Davis heading into the regular season finale, ranging from the Aggies sharing the North Division title to being out of the league’s postseason event altogether:

1) A win or a draw and UC Davis qualifies...
2) A win gives UC Davis the No. 2 seed and hosts the No. 3 seed from the South Division...
3) A draw by UC Davis and a Sacramento State win makes the Aggies the No. 3 seed, hitting the road to meet the No. 2 seed from the South Division...
4) A draw by both the Aggies and Hornets gives UC Davis the No. 2 seed and a home match against the No. 3 seed from the South Division...
5) A UC Davis loss and a UC Santa Barbara win over Sacramento State gives the Aggies the No. 3 seed since Cal Poly and UC Davis would be tied with 14 points and the Aggies lose either the head-to-head goal differential tiebreaker (if the loss to the Mustangs is by two or more goals) or, if the loss is by a single goal, the tiebreaker whereby Cal Poly has scored more goals in road games within its division (Cal Poly has five, UC Davis has one, heading into Wednesday’s match)...
6) A UC Davis loss and a Sacramento State win eliminates UC Davis (the Hornets advance on points and Cal Poly on tiebreakers in #5 above)...
7) A UC Davis loss and a draw between Sacramento State and UCSB creates a three-way tie at 14 points and eliminates the Aggies. Sacramento State advances because of their eight points against the rest of the North Division, while Cal Poly advances via the tiebreakers mentioned in #5 above.

CAL POLY BRIEFLY: Like the Aggies, the Mustangs also stumble into their regular season finale, having gone winless in their last four matches (0-3-1) dating back to their 1-0 loss to UC Davis on Oct. 22... Cal Poly lost both of its contests last weekend, falling at home to Sacramento State (2-1) and UC Santa Barbara (2-0)... Chase Minter leads a trio of Mustangs with double-digit points, scoring seven goals and assisting on five more for 19 points... Matt LaGrassa (5 goals, 3 assists) and Kaba Alkebulan (4 goals, 4 assists) follow closely behind with 13 and 12 points, respectively... Wade Hamilton has played every minute in net, posting a 1.16 goals against average and 89 saves to go with five shutouts.

SERIES NOTES: Dating back to 1990 when complete yearly records are available, Cal Poly narrowly leads the all-time series with UC Davis by an 11-10-1 count, but the Aggies are unbeaten in their last three with the Mustangs, including a 1-0 win in overtime earlier this season in San Luis Obispo... UC Davis is 6-4 all-time against Cal Poly at home, with the six victories coming in the last seven meetings at the Aggie Soccer Field... The Aggies have scored multiple goals against the Mustangs in eight of the 10 meetings at home, save for a pair of 1-0 defeats in 2005 and 2012.

110... NO FEWER: After playing 11 consecutive double-overtime contests in 2014, the Aggies must not have been used to playing fewer than 110 minutes as UC Davis dropped a pair of contests last week that ended during the first extra-time period. Prior to their match at UC Santa Barbara, the last time the Aggies played a single overtime match was a 2-1 win on the Gauchos’ home field back on Oct. 28, 2012.

WE FIT: No, it’s not the newest video game to get you in shape, but it has seemed to work for the Aggies this season. Perhaps the most fit team in the Big West Conference, UC Davis is a combined 2-0-9 when playing into a second overtime period, playing all but seven minutes of a possible 240 minutes of extra time this season. That equates to two extra regulation contests, a full half of play, and an extra eight minutes tacked on.

ONE DOWN...: UC Davis set a new NCAA record with its 12th overtime match of the season last Wednesday at UC Santa Barbara before falling in overtime, surpassing the previous mark shared with Saint Louis (2003), San Diego State (2009), and the 2011 Aggies. That mark was extended three days later in overtime against Sacramento State at home

BOW, NECK, OR BOLO?: The Aggies’ nine ties this season, have set a new Big West Conference single-season mark, breaking the previous record set by UC Riverside in 2007, and have matched 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.

IT “SHEL” BE “DON”: Senior forward Matt Sheldon netted his fourth goal of the season to get the Aggies on the board against Sacramento State last weekend -- the 15th goal of his career to go with seven career assists -- moving him into the team lead with 10 points thus far in 2014. Sheldon has been superb at finding the back of the net at just the right time for UC Davis during his brilliant four-year career, as seven of his 15 career scores have been game-winners.

MR. SMARTY PANTS: A key member of the Aggies’ stingy defense this season, senior defender Brian Ford was honored for his performance off the field in the classroom, named to the Capital One Academic All-District VIII men’s soccer team. The Newport Beach, California, native is a neurobiology, physiology, and behavior major, and is now eligible for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors later this month. He is the ninth different Aggie to earn academic all-district honors and the first since Mustafa Chopan was named a second-team CoSIDA Academic All-American in 2012.

I AM IRON MAN: Speaking of Ford, the senior has rarely left the field for the Aggies this season, playing in a nation-leading 1,820 minutes this season -- accounting for all but 33 of UC Davis’ 1,853 total minutes.

FOUR AGGIES AMONG BIG WEST BEST: UC Davis senior defenders Ramon Martin Del Campo and Brian Ford, along with junior midfielder Ryan Gross and senior forward Matt Sheldon, rank among the top 20 players in the Big West Conference according to a midseason list released by the website Top Drawer Soccer. Martin Del Campo leads the Aggie quartet, ranked No. 4 in the league overall and the top defender. Ford follows at No. 8, joined by Gross at No. 12 and Sheldon at No. 15.

MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT: Of the Aggies’ 17 goals scored this season, 12 have come in the second half or later -- including a 10-4 scoring advantage in favor of UC Davis during the second period alone.

THIS IS NEW: The two defeats for UC Davis last week marked the first time that the Aggies dropped back-to-back matches this season and the first since Oct. 6 and Oct. 11 of 2013 against CSUN (2-0) and Cal State Fullerton (1-0).

WHOM DO WE MARK?: The nine different goal scorers for the Aggies this season are the most since the 2012 squad finished with 12 different players finding the back of the net.

CLEAN SHEETS: Everybody likes clean sheets, especially sophomore goalkeeper Armando Quezada, who posted his fifth shutout of the year in a scoreless draw at Sacramento State on Oct. 25. The total places him just one shy of Omar Zeenni, Nic Platter, Jason Kong, and Brian Hocking, for third place on the school’s single-season chart, while his six career clean sheets are five back of Ryan McCowan for fifth on UC Davis career list. As a team, the seven shutouts for the Aggies this season are tied for the most in the league with Cal State Fullerton entering the week.

DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP)... DE-FENSE (CLAP, CLAP): Despite a rare offensive outburst by the opposition last Saturday against Sacramento State (only the second time in the last 25 matches that the Aggies have allowed multiple goals in a match), the 13 goals allowed by the UC Davis defense remain the fewest in the Big West Conference entering this week’s contests (CSUN is second with 18), while the Aggies also stand atop the league with a 0.63 goals against average. If the season ended today, the average would be the lowest in the Aggies’ Division I era -- besting the 0.87 GAA  set in 2008 -- and the fourth sub-1.00 GAA since becoming full-fledged Division I members in 2007.

HOW GOOD IS THAT DEFENSE?: UC Davis ranks 10th in the NCAA in goals against average (0.63) and No. 17 in the nation in save percentage (.829). Individually, goalkeeper Armando Quezada stands 10th in the nation with his league-leading 0.63 goals against average and 21st with a Big West-best .825 save percentage.