Men's Soccer: "California, Here We Come!"

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PHILADELPHIA – Fresh off an opening weekend which featured a pair of shutout wins, the University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team takes to the road this weekend for a pair of matches in California. Up first for the Red and Blue is a match at Cal Poly on Sept. 13 (10 p.m. EST) followed by a Sunday matinee against UC-Santa Barbara at 4 p.m. EST.

The Quakers are one of 25 teams in the country without a loss or a tie heading into this weekend, using the two clean sheets earned to tied for first among all Division I teams in goals-against average and save percentage in the early stages of the season. Individually, goalkeeper Tyler Kinn is one of 12 keepers to have played 50% of his team’s matches and to have not conceded a goal.

There was no dearth of offense for Penn in its opening weekend, scoring seven goals over two matches to sit third nationally in scoring offense at 3.50 goals-per-game. Alec Neumann and Louis Schott accounted for four of Penn’s goals over the weekend, each scoring twice to tie for 11th in the country in goals-per-game.

This weekend marks Penn’s seventh trip to California, the Quakers holding a 4-5-2 record in matches played in the Golden State. San Diego has long been the regular destination for the Red and Blue when headed to California, with three matches each against the University of San Diego and San Diego State. The two matches this weekend will be the first-ever against Cal Poly and UC-Santa Barbara for the Quakers.

After the 2-0-0 weekend, Penn received 12 votes in this week’s NSCAA/Continental Tire Poll and ranked No. 9 in the NSCAA Northeast Regional Poll.

Friday’s opponent, Cal Poly, is in the midst of a five-match homestand, which opened with a 1-0 loss to Gonzaga in double overtime on Sunday. That loss moved the Mustangs’ record to 2-2-0 this season, highlighted by a 3-0 win at No. 6 UCLA on Sept. 5. That win marks the highest-ranked opponent Cal Poly has defeated in program history. It was the second consecutive match against a team ranked No. 6 in the nation – following up a 3-0 loss to Creighton on Sept. 1 in Omaha.

The Mustangs received one vote in this week’s NSCAA Poll, and enter looking for their first home win of 2013. After an 11-7-1 season last year, Cal Poly returns three All-Big West selections for this season. Reigning Big West Offensive Player of the Year, preseason Hermann Award Watch List selection and preseason All-Big West choice Mackenzie Pridham leads the Mustangs with three goals and seven points this season, one of five Cal Poly players to score at least one goal. In goal, Wade Hamilton has seen every minute of action, making 15 saves and allowing six goals over four matches. He was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for his efforts last week, including a three-save shutout against the sixth-ranked Bruins.

On Sunday, Penn will head to “Soccer Heaven” for a match against the UC-Santa Barbara Gauchos. UCSB was ranked No. 23 in the preseason NSCAA Top-25, and enters the weekend with a 2-1 record. After defeating No. 19 Northwestern, 3-1, in their season opener the Gauchos would complete a Second City Sweep with a 1-0 win at Illinois-Chicago. Last weekend, UCSB was bested by Gonzaga, 2-0, in its first home match of the season.

Last season, UCSB was undefeated through its first 11 matches before injuries halted any momentum and led to the Gauchos missing the Big West playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Gauchos returned just 11 of 31 goals from last season, but a full season of French forward Achille Campion is expected to boost that number. Campion scored six times last season and has a goal and an assist in three matches in 2013. Fellow Frenchman Goffin Boyoko leads the Gauchos with three strikes in three contests this season after two all of last campaign. The Gauchos have been splitting time in goal, with junior Austin Manaker starting twice for a 1-1-0 record while freshman Josh McNeely posted a shutout in his only start.