Pac-12 men's soccer title comes down to final week

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Pac-12 men’s soccer title race will be decided in the final week of Conference play with all six teams in action to finalize the regular season standings. WASHINGTON (14-3-0, 7-2-0, 21 pts) and STANFORD (13-1-3, 6-1-2, 20 pts) each have the opportunity to win the Conference title outright this week while a shared championship between the Huskies and Cardinal is also possible.

PREVIEWING THE WEEK: This week’s three-match slate (Thursday, Nov. 14 – Saturday, Nov. 16) features each team playing its final Conference match of the season with league title implications on the line.

No. 4 Stanford and CALIFORNIA (7-6-3, 3-4-2, 11 pts) play their second Big Clásico of the year on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Bay Area. The Cardinal secured a 2-1 comeback victory in teams’ first meeting in late September in Berkeley with freshman Gabe Segal bagging the game-winner in the 70th minute. Stanford needs to win on Thursday to extend its hopes of winning a sixth-consecutive outright Conference title.

Friday’s action features OREGON STATE (8-5-2, 5-2-2, 17 pts) hosting No. 6 Washington at 6:00 p.m. PT. The Huskies would secure the Conference crown outright with a win over the Beavers UW took a 2-1 victory over the Beavers on Oct. 13 behind goals from Ryan DeGroot and Jaret Townsend.

The final match of the 2019 Conference season will feature SAN DIEGO STATE (3-11-2, 1-8-0, 3 pts) and UCLA (5-9-3, 1-6-2, 5 pts) at 7:00 p.m. PT at the SDSU Sports Deck. The first meeting between the teams in early October was historic for UCLA forward Milan Iloski as the junior bagged a school-record five goals in the Bruins’ 5-2 win.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS (Washington): Washington can win the Pac-12 Championship outright under the following scenarios:

  • If Stanford defeats Cal on Thursday, Stanford will finish the Conference season with 23 points. Washington will enter its Friday match against Oregon State with 21 points. Thus, the Huskies can clinch the Conference title with a win over the Beavers following an initial Stanford victory.
  • If Stanford loses to Cal on Thursday, Stanford will finish the season with 20 points. Washington will enter its Friday match against Oregon State with 21 points. Thus, the Huskies clinch the Conference title regardless of their result against the Beavers with an initial Stanford loss.
  • If Stanford draws with Cal on Thursday, Stanford will finish the season with 21 points. Washington will enter its Friday match against Oregon State with 21 points. Thus, the Huskies can clinch the Conference title with a win or draw against the Beavers following an initial Stanford draw.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS (Stanford): Stanford can win the Pac-12 Championship outright under the following scenario:

  • If Stanford defeats Cal on Thursday, Stanford will finish the season with 23 points. Washington will enter its Friday match against Oregon State with 21 points. Thus, the Cardinal can clinch the Conference title with a win over Cal and a Washington loss or draw to Oregon State.

CLINCHING SCENARIOS (co-champions): Washington and Stanford could finish the season as Pac-12 co-champions under the following scenario:

  • If Stanford draws to Cal on Thursday, Stanford will finish the season with 21 points. Washington will enter its Friday match against Oregon State with 21 points. Thus, Stanford and Washington will both finish with 21 points if the Huskies lose to the Beavers following a Stanford draw to Cal.

**If Washington and Stanford emerge as co-champions, tiebreaker rules will be in effect to determine which team earns the Conference’s automatic bid to play in the NCAA Tournament. Because Washington and Stanford split their regular season series, the Huskies would earn the automatic bid with a better overall Conference win total (Washington 7; Stanford 6)

PAC-12 IN NATIONAL RANKS: Stanford checked in at No. 4 in the national ranks, marking the fifth-consecutive week the Cardinal has landed in the top 5. Washington followed at No. 6, the Huskies’ eighth-straight appearance in the top 10 this year.

PAC-12 IN NCAA RPI RANKINGS: Pac-12 men’s soccer is led by Stanford and Washington in the 2019 NCAA RPI rankings as the Cardinal and Huskies rank eighth and 10th in RPI, respectively. Oregon State cracked the top 50 at No. 47 in the ranks. UCLA checked in just outside the top 50 at No. 55.

WEEKLY RECAP: Last week’s action kicked off with a scoreless draw between Stanford and Oregon State on Thursday, Nov. 7, a result that would allow Washington the chance to clinch the Pac-12 title at home with a win or draw against Cal. UW took a 2-1 lead into halftime, but the Golden Bears fought back and scored twice in the second half to down the Huskies, 3-2. It was an historic victory for Cal head coach Kevin Grimes, who earned his 203rd-career win to eclipse the late Bob DiGrazia and become the Golden Bears’ all-time winningest men’s soccer head coach.

San Diego State hosted Nebraska Omaha on Friday, Nov. 8 in the lone non-conference match of the week. The teams played to a 0-0 draw despite the Aztecs outshooting the Mavericks 22-6.

Despite the loss to Cal, the Huskies could once again clinch the league title outright with a win or draw over Stanford on Sunday, Nov. 10. The Cardinal prevented both of those scenarios with freshman Gabe Segal’s 42nd-minute header that would be the only goal of the match. The Cardinal’s 1-0 victory prolonged the league title race to the final week of the season and extended Stanford’s unbeaten streak to eight games.   

Oregon State improved to 5-2-2 in Conference play with a 1-0 overtime victory over Cal on Sunday. Raheem Taylor-Parkes bagged the game-winner in the 98th-minute for his first Beaver goal.

NON-CONFERENCE PROWESS: Pac-12 men’s soccer has compiled a 28-12-6 record in non-conference play thus far in 2019. The league’s .674 non-conference winning percentage is good for the third-best mark across all conferences, trailing only the ACC (77-22-17, .737) and Big East (56-25-4, .690).

PAC-12 AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Included in the Pac-12’s 28-12-6 non-conference record are four victories and a draw against Top 25 non-conference opponents:

  • Stanford at then-No. 3 Akron (W, 2-1) – Monday, Sept. 2
  • UCLA vs. then-No. 3 Maryland (W, 3-2) – Friday, Sept. 6
  • Washington at then-No. 16 Michigan State (W, 1-0) – Friday, Sept. 6
  • Washington vs. then-No. 18 Denver (W, 2-1) – Friday, Aug. 30
  • California vs. then-No. 25 UC Irvine (D, 1-1) – Sunday, Sept. 1

PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Thomas won Player of the Week. The goalkeeper pitched his seventh and eighth solo shutouts of the season to keep Stanford’s hopes of a sixth-consecutive Pac-12 title alive. Thomas made four stops in a scoreless draw with Oregon State on Thursday night, including one that saved the game in the first overtime. A beaver cross slid through three Stanford defenders and found the Beavers’ Eric Diaz with an opening at the near post that Thomas batted away. He followed that performance up with another shutout and five saves in Stanford’s 1-0 win at then-No. 1 Washington on Sunday. Thomas, who entered the weekend 13th in the country with a 0.693 goals against average, lowered that number to 0.60 with the two clean sheets. His 19 solo shutouts in less than two years of action are already fourth in the Cardinal’s career record books. This is Thomas’ first-career weekly honor and Stanford’s 38th all-time.

STAT CENTRAL: UCLA’s Milan Iloski is tied for the national lead in goals scored (17) and is tied for fourth in points (36). Iloski is second in the country in points per game (2.40) and his five goals against San Diego State (Oct. 6) are tied for the most scored in a game by any player in the country this season.

Washington goalkeeper Sam Fowler is fourth in the nation in goals against average (0.449), the highest mark among freshmen. Stanford keeper Andrew Thomas has recorded shutouts in six of his last seven matches and is now sixth in the nation in goals against average (0.600) UCLA’s Riley Ferch and Cal’s Alonzo Del Mundo lead the Conference with nine assists on the year, good for a tie for sixth in the country. Lucas Meek’s game-winning header for Washington against Stanford on Oct. 3 was his fifth game-winning goal of the season, good for a tie for eighth in the country in the category.

UCLA has played the second-hardest schedule in the nation in 2019 with a combined 152-82-36 (.630) opponent record and matchups against three top-six non-conference teams this season. Stanford has posted a 0.561 goals against average and a 0.848 save percentage, both marks good for fourth in the nation. The Cardinal and the Huskies are tied for third in the nation with a 0.647 shutout percentage on the year. Stanford’s Nov. 2 victory over then-No. 1 Washington moved the Cardinal to 5-0-2 in its last seven matches against top-five opponents.

FRESHMAN PHENOMS: Pac-12 men’s soccer freshmen have impressed in their debut collegiate seasons. Stanford first-year forward Gabe Segal is tied for the team lead with six goals on the year. The Bethesda, Md., native bagged the game-winner (42’) against then-No. 1 Washington to keep the Cardinal’s Pac-12 title hopes alive. He also scored in three straight matches from Sept. 15 – Sept. 24, including the game-winner in his first Big Clásico against Cal. Fellow Stanford first-year forward Ousseni Bouda has bagged five goals and five assists in his debut campaign, good for a team-leading 15 points.

Freshman goalkeeper Sam Fowler has recorded nine starts for Washington this year and posted six shutouts, compiling 14 total saves. His 0.449 goals against average is the fourth-best mark in the country and the lowest average among freshmen.

COACHING MILESTONES ACHIEVED: Cal head coach Kevin Grimes (203-137-45) notched his 203rd-career victory in the Golden Bears’ 3-2 victory over then-No. 1 Washington. The victory made Grimes Cal’s all-time winningest men’s soccer head coach, eclipsing Bob DiGrazia’s 202 career wins.

Stanford head coach Jeremy Gunn (109-31-25) recorded his 100th-career victory at Stanford with the team’s 2-0 win over Denver (Sept. 13). Gunn is just the second to reach the 100-win milestone at Stanford as Fred Priddle went 133-119-23 from 1954-75. In just seven full seasons at the helm, Gunn has guided the Cardinal to five-straight Pac-12 titles and three NCAA Championships. Washington’s Jamie Clark (114-45-20) also reached the 100-win milestone earlier this season in the Huskies’ season-opening win over then No. 18 Denver (Aug. 30). He became only the third coach in program history to achieve the milestone and has since moved into second place on the all-time wins list with UW’s victory over UCLA (Sept. 22).

PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM: Pac-12 men’s soccer head coaches selected the Preseason All-Conference Team, a squad fully composed of 2018 All-Pac-12 honorees. Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year Tanner Beason headlines the team as the anchor of the Cardinal back four, while Stanford’s goalkeeper Andrew Thomas was selected following a Conference-best 82 saves in 2018. Two-time first team All-Pac-12 honoree Blake Bodily leads the Huskies’ trio of representatives, while reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sofiane Djeffal was voted to the team along with sophomore forward Gloire Amanda for Oregon State. A pair of redshirt seniors, forward Pablo Pelaez (SDSU) and defender Matthew Powell (UCLA), round out the Preseason All-Conference team after All-Pac-12 second team honors in 2018.                                           

NATIONAL HONORS: Beason and Bodily were named to the 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. The MAC Hermann Trophy is the most prestigious honor in collegiate soccer and is awarded annual to the most outstanding male and female players. The winners of the Trophy will be announced in January in St. Louis, Mo., at the Missouri Athletic Club’s annual banquet.

PAC-12 POSTSEASON HISTORY: The Pac-12 placed at least four programs into the 2018 NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the past six seasons and the eighth time since it began sponsoring the sport with just five teams in 2000 (San Diego State added as sixth member in 2005). UCLA (four) and Stanford (three) have combined for seven NCAA Men’s Soccer titles, highlighted by the Cardinal’s recent streak of three-consecutive crowns from 2015-17. The Bruins and Cardinal have accounted for 17 of the Conference’s all-time top-4 finishes at the NCAA Tournament, including nine College Cup appearances between the two programs (Stanford 5, UCLA 4) over the past 18 seasons.

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