Big West Tourney Handicapping

We have somewhere between one and nine matches left in our season.  It’s almost certain that our last home match will take place this Wednesday versus UC Riverside.  Looking at our prospects through the eyes of a handicapping oddsmaker, I don’t like our chances.  From here on out, we need to win or go home, and given that we’ve only managed one victory from our last seven matches, things look pretty grim.

First up, UCR.  While we are 1-3-3 (0-1-2 at home) from our last 7 matches, UCR is 4-2-1 (1-2-1 away).  Our prior match versus UCR occurred at home where we won 3-1.  My odds of prevailing: 60%.

Should we win, we play at CSUF in the semi-finals.  While Fullerton has had our number in recent Big West tournament matches, our best scoreline of the year was a 5-2 thrashing of CSUF at home.  So, the match-up may be a favorable one for us.  CSUF is also coming off a 2-1 loss in a meaningful match at home versus last place UC Irvine, so they may be lacking form.  My odds of prevailing: 40%.

Statistically speaking, we have about a 24% chance of making it to the final, where we would likely play at Davis.  However, Davis will probably host CSUN in their semi-final match, a team that they drew at home earlier in the year.  Should Davis lose their match, we would suddenly host the final.  Odds of that happening is about 9.6% (24% of us making it that far coupled with a 40% chance of Davis losing).  Anyway, let’s say the most likely thing happens which is Davis playing in the final.  Given the -8 goal differential over 2 legs, I place our chances of winning at 30%.

With my odds of making it to the final at 24% and then beating Davis at 30%, I give our current odds of making it to the NCAA tourney at 7.2%.  Of course, we can nearly double those odds by beating Riverside on Wednesday, and those odds nearly double again if Davis loses in the semi-final.

So, our total number of matches left in the season is closer to 1 than it is to 9.  And while the cumulative odds to make it far are quite daunting, each win (or a Davis loss) boosts our odds significantly.  We’ll know on Wednesday whether we bust out for 2017 or get moved to another table.

UCSB 1 Cal Poly 4

During halftime, the video feed encountered an issue, and it never recovered.  I could write up a recap of what I observed in the first half, but I don’t think it’s worthwhile to tell just half a story, especially when it’s the first half and doesn’t include the end.  Given how the scoreline finished, it’s probably for the best.

To take a quick saunter down memory lane, we started divisional play in great shape with a 3-0-1 record.  During divisional play, we could only manage a 1-3-2 record or just 5 points from 6 matches.  We went from a strong lead to earn the #1 seed, to being behind but still in control of our own top seed destiny, to being a win from securing the #2 seed, to being another win from securing the #2 seed, to now needing Davis to get a result versus Sac State on Sunday for the #2 seed.

Should Sac State win on Sunday, we would be relegated to the #3 seed and play at CSUN this Wednesday

Should Davis do us a solid and not allow Sac State to win, we would host UCR this Wednesday.

While having a more fit Ammer and possibly Billingsley back for our next match improves our lot, our North results represent an obvious cause for concern.  Perhaps we can regain the form we enjoyed when we played the South nearly a month ago by playing the South again.

In any case, our seeding destiny is now in the hands of Davis and Sac State.

UCSB 0 Sac State 0

In the pre-match interview, Vom Steeg talked about some players starting to hit a wall.  With that, he specifically mentioned Adames who would be rested a bit today.  While the season stats don’t break down minutes played, I’m confident that Adames has logged the most minutes this year.

For tonight, Ek filled in for Adames in the starting XI.  We appeared to play with an asymmetrical formation with Kim playing a bit wider than a central midfielder.  Meanwhile, Michael was popping up on both wings more than playing centrally.  We favored attacking on the left side over the right side.

Dream Team 4-1-3-2 football formation

We controlled possession for much of the first half.  While we got some crosses into the box and otherwise forced the ball into the box, we were not able to create any quality chances (2 shots, 0 SOG).  The best opportunity came when Conteh found Michael with a long, low ball up the middle.  Michael gained the box, but his touch wasn’t entirely clean, so he took himself a bit wide and long, so he couldn’t get his foot around the ball enough and hit his shot into the rear of the side netting.

Sacramento State’s best opportunity came on a near break-away.  But Ek was able to catch up to the runner at a bit of an angle and timed his slide tackle in the box well enough to get his boot on the shot just as it was struck.  That was the defensive play of the game for us.

Dream Team 3-5-1-1 football formation

The second half saw us start with a similar formation as the first half but with several personnel changes.  After Ek acquitted himself quite well, Adames replaced him.  Kashani played at right back with Conteh being pushed up to midfield.  But Kashani wouldn’t last long, and Gillingham would replace him just 5 minutes into the half.

While the second half didn’t start as open as the second half of our first fixture in Sacramento, the match did open significantly as the half wore on.  Three successive offsides calls on Tellechea stymied our attack early.  Then, Sacramento had a dangerous opportunity in the 69th minute from a wide free kick that Carrillo leapt to meet and punch to safety.  Carrillo appeared to hurt his right shoulder or elbow on the play, and the clock was stopped to tend to the knock.  But he would continue and would later sling some long balls with his right hand.  He ok.

Chances materialized in the final 20 minutes of regulation.  Tellechea would be denied a goal by the keeper’s dragging left foot that deflected enough to hit side netting.  Kim played a couple nice through balls, the first one finding Michael who was able to gain the box but ran into a trio of defenders.  Another time, Kim found Tellechea who returned the ball to Kim who crossed the ball just over Conteh’s head at the far post.  Kim probably played his best match of the year on senior night.  More of that, please.  Between those chances, Tellechea hit the woodwork and Acosta had a shot at the top of the box that he dragged very wide of the far post.  But none of those opportunities led to the ball going into the back of the net, so off to OT we would go.

The starter’s gun signaled the start of the first OT, and the track meet was officially on, largely thanks to Kryzda and Adomakoh coming in with fresh legs.  It was also apparent that both teams were doing what they could to bag all 3 points.  But it was UCSB that created the lion’s share of opportunities that included 3 consecutive corner kicks that culminated in a Kim shot from near the PK spot, but his well struck shot was blocked by a defender.

In the second OT, more running and space for both teams.  The best opportunity came when Magpayo was on the ball near the top of the box and played Kim in.  Kim’s initial touch was excellent, but the keeper came off his line to cut down the angle and blocked the shot.  However, Kim had a wide open Telelchea in front of goal.  Had he played a square ball, and had Tellechea been able to remain onside, it would have been an easy tap in goal for the win.

Overall, tonight’s showing was significantly better than the showing versus Davis (duh).  We actually deserved a better result that would have yielded a much more advantageous position in the standings, but such is soccer.

In other Big West North happenings, Davis won 2-1 at Cal Poly, so the current standings are as follows:

Davis 19

UCSB  15

Sac St 14

Poly  7

So, Davis clinches the North title while UCSB and Sac State will finish as the #2 or #3 seed.  We hold the tie breaker versus Sac State, so Sac State needs to win followed by a draw or loss by us versus Cal Poly in order to earn the #2 seed. I say “followed by” because Sac State plays earlier in the day, so we’ll know what result we need prior to kickoff versus Cal Poly in order to earn the #2 seed.  Yeah, we play at Cal Poly this Saturday.  Exciting.