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CSUB men's soccer begins pivotal stretch Wednesday night against UC Davis

It’s crunch time for CSUB men’s soccer.

The Roadrunners have overcome a shaky 1-5-1 non-conference showing to post a 3-3 record in the Big West with three games to go. The team has alternated wins and losses in conference play, with its most devastating defeat of the year coming Saturday at home against UC Irvine, a 5-0 rout in which the Anteaters scored three goals in just over three minutes.

The Roadrunners will need to have a short memory, as they host UC Davis Wednesday. The Aggies, meanwhile, are coming off a 5-0 result of their own, a win against CSUN. Both teams will see the match as a key opportunity to improve their positioning on the road to the Big West Men’s Soccer Championship, which begins Nov. 3.

Here’s how the tournament works: six teams advance from the 10-team conference, with the top two earning a first-round bye. Currently the Roadrunners sit in sixth. While UCSB has a firm grip on the top seed, just three points separate seeds two through seven. CSUB will host UC Davis, No. 5 with a 3-2-1 conference record, travel to last-place UC San Diego and return home to close the season against Cal Poly, No. 2 at 3-1-2 in conference.

Finishing strong could earn the Roadrunners a chance to host a tournament game at the Main Soccer Field. Against Davis, they’ll require strong attacking play from top goalscorer Aodhán O’Hara — though it wouldn’t be a shock to see a fifth penalty goal from Carlos Armendariz, either.

Most crucially, the defense will need to be consistent, regardless of whether Scott Pengelly or Sucre Herrera is in goal. In its last four games, the group anchored by 13-game starters Harry Downing and Eric Whelan has kept its only two clean sheets of the season but surrendered eight goals in the other two. They’ll have to lock down the Aggies’ Maximilian Arfsten, who has seven goals and five assists on the year. Keegan Walwyn-Bent is the reigning Big West Freshman of the Week after scoring a brace against CSUN. UC Davis also features former BVarsity Boys Soccer Player of the Year and Centennial alum Grant Fidler.

The Roadrunners and Aggies take the field Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Reporter Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.

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