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This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Sept. 3

This Week in WAC Men's Soccer - Sept. 3

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CBU'S VACAS BARBA, UVU'S CAPRIO NAMED PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
California Baptist's Rafael Vacas Barba and Utah Valley's Aaron Caprio have been named Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, for August 26 through September 1.
 
Vacas Barba, a junior forward from Baena, Spain, scored the equalizer in Friday's 1-1 draw at IUPUI and then scored the game-winner and assisted on two others in a 4-0 win at Purdue Fort Wayne on Sunday. Through the first weekend of the season, he leads the WAC in points with six and his two goals tie him for the top spot.
 
Caprio, a senior defender from Lehi, Utah, anchored the Wolverines' back line that did not allow a shot on goal in a 1-0 home win over Cal Poly. The win marked the sixth-straight season-opening win for Utah Valley.
 
Other offensive nominees: Grand Canyon's Tosh Yasuda scored in just the second minute to help the Lopes to a 3-0 season-opening win over Northern Kentucky … San José State's Rudy Castro had four shots, two on goal, and played all 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Sacramento State on Friday … Seattle U's Noe Meza scored twice in a 5-0 win over San Francisco on Friday night … UT Rio Grande Valley's Angel Lopez recorded his fifth career game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Wofford on Sunday afternoon at Houston Baptist … Utah Valley's Blake Frischknecht scored the lone goal for the Wolverines in a 1-0 season-opening win over Cal Poly.
 
Other defensive nominees: California Baptist's Albert Escuin was in net for all 200 minutes, making seven combined saves in a tie at IUPUI and a shutout win at Purdue Fort Wayne … Grand Canyon's George Tasouris made a save to earn the shutout in a 3-0 win over Northern Kentucky on Friday night … San José State's Eddie Saydee played all 90 minutes in a 2-0 loss to Sacramento State … Seattle U's Akili Kasim made the only save he needed to make in a 5-0 win over San Francisco on Friday … UT Rio Grande Valley's Andy Rios made five saves to help the Vaqueros earn a 2-1 win over Wofford.
 
UP NEXT
The second weekend of the regular season is going to be a big one around the WAC with four games against top-25 opponents. Seattle U faces the toughest slate, traveling to South Bend, Ind. to take on 11th-ranked Notre Dame and second-ranked Indiana in the Mike Berticelli Memorial. Grand Canyon will also face a test, heading to eighth-ranked Saint Mary's on Friday night in the Lopes first road game of the year. UT Rio Grande Valley takes on the final top-25 opponent, traveling to Orlando on Sunday for a matchup with 15th-ranked UCF.
 
BY THE NUMBERS
With everyone having played at least once, Seattle U leads the league in shots (52), points (16), assists (6) and are tied with California Baptist for the lead in goals (5). SU is also tied with Utah Valley and Grand Canyon for goals allowed (0) and goals against average (0.00). UNLV has the early lead in saves (12).
 
Individually, Seattle U's Noe Meza is the leader in shots (11) while CBU's Rafael Vacas Barba is the leader in points (6) and is tied with Meza for the lead in goals (2). Three keepers are tied with a 0.00 goals-against average while UNLV's Enrique Adame is the early saves leader with 12.
 
ON THE MAP
Air Force remains in the top 25 in two of three national polls released by press time. The Falcons are ranked 23rd in the Top Drawer Soccer Top 25 and 25th in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25. The cadets are also among those receiving votes in the College Soccer News Top 30. Seattle U is among those receiving votes in both the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 and College Soccer News Top 30 while the CSN Top 30 also features Grand Canyon and Utah Valley among those receiving votes.
 
BEST IN THE (FAR) WEST
Three teams from the WAC are in the initial United Soccer Coaches Far West Regional Rankings. Seattle U leads the way, ranked fourth, followed by Air Force in fifth and Utah Valley in sixth.
 
HYNDMAN JOINS 500-WIN CLUB
Grand Canyon head coach Schellas Hyndman became the fifth Division I men's soccer coach in history to win 500 games after his Lopes earned a season-opening win over Northern Kentucky on Aug. 30. South Carolina's Mark Berson is the only other active coach with over 500 wins.
 
FROM NEW ZEALAND TO VEGAS AND BACK
UNLV junior defender Billy Jones will miss some time with the Rebels later this month as he heads to Fiji to compete for his native New Zealand in Olympic Qualifyers. The Oly-Whites are the top seed in Group A, which also include Solomon Islands, American Samoa and Samoa. Group B consists of Fiji, Vanuatu, Papau New Guinea and Tonga. The winner of qualifying tournament will earn the lone berth available to the region for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
 
SEATTLE U PICKED TO WIN 2019 TITLE
Seattle U is the preseason favorite to win the 2019 Western Athletic Conference men's soccer title in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team.
 
The Redhawks collected five of 12 first-place votes and 112 total points to take the top spot. UT Rio Grande Valley was selected second with two first-place votes and 104 points. Air Force and Grand Canyon tied for the third spot with the Falcons earning three first-place votes and the Lopes earning one first-place vote and both teams garnering 88 points. UNLV was just one point back with 87 points to take the fifth spot. San José State, a tournament finalist the last two seasons, received the final first-place vote and 77 points to take the sixth spot. Utah Valley was selected seventh with 75 points, followed by California Baptist in eighth, CSU Bakersfield in ninth, Houston Baptist and Kansas City tied for tenth and UIW in 12th. 
 
AUNE, RIVAS HIGHLIGHT PRESEASON ALL-WAC SQUAD
UT Rio Grande Valley's Kyle Edwards and Grand Canyon's George Tasouris were selected as the WAC Preseason Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year respectively in a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who could not vote for their own team or players.
 
Edwards is joined on the Preseason All-WAC squad by teammate William Akio while Tasouris was the lone representative for GCU. UNLV and Seattle U each had three honored as Tyler Allen, Marco Gonzalez and Timo Mehlich represented the Rebels and Julian Avilia-Good, Declan McGlynn and Thomas Mickoski were the Redhawks' honorees. Air Force's Nick Blessing and San José State's Max Allen rounded out the 11-member team.
 
UTRGV'S EDWARDS NAMED TO MAC HERMANN WATCH LIST
UT Rio Grande Valley's Kyle Edwards is the lone WAC representative on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, released on Aug. 1. The senior scored 14 goals and recorded 33 points during a standout junior season, which saw him earn First Team All-WAC honors, as well as First Team All-Far West Region honors.
 
DUO EARNS PRESEASON HONORS
UT Rio Grande Valley forward Kyle Edwards was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Preseason Best XI, earning third team honors. Seattle U midfielder Jesse Ortiz was named to the TDS Freshman Best XI after scoring 13 goals for Houston Dynamo U-19 and three goals for Brazos Valley Cavalry FC of USL2 where he played with UTRGV's Edwards.
 
PLAYING THE BEST
The WAC has 27 non-conference games against participants from the 2018 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament. Seattle U and Grand Canyon might have a strong argument for who has the toughest non-conference schedule as the Redhawks are set to take on five NCAA participants (Denver, Indiana (at Notre Dame), at Notre Dame, Portland and Washington) while the Lopes will play four NCAA participants (Oregon State, at Saint Mary's, at UC Riverside and at Virginia Tech). CSU Bakersfield, Houston Baptist and San José State will each take on three NCAA participants. In total, 11 of the 12 WAC men's soccer programs will face a postseason participant in non-conference play.
 
LUCKY SEVEN
With 11 men's soccer teams eligible for the postseason in 2019, the WAC tournament field remains at seven teams. The tournament also features an extra rest day between the first round and semifinal round. The regular season champion and top seed will receive the only bye in the tournament, with the other teams beginning play on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the United State Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs, Colo. Semifinals will be played on Friday, Nov. 15 with the championship game set for Sunday, Nov. 17.