BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
Cal State Bakersfield's men's soccer season is in a do-or-die situation this weekend.
Coach Simon Tobin acknowledged this week that the Roadrunners will likely need to win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament that began Thursday at the University of New Mexico to earn the MPSF's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Tobin said CSUB's power rating and overall record entering the tourney (9-4-5) probably isn't good enough to earn an at-large NCAA berth. CSUB was 12-4-5 last season.
"San Jose State is the reason we may not get a wild card bid this year," Tobin said, referring to two MPSF regular-season losses to the Spartans. "I felt we were the better team both times. We outshot them both times. And they beat us one-out-of-two last year, so maybe they're a bogey for us."
The Roadrunners have one advantage in the MPSF Tournament: a first-round bye. Today at 5 p.m. Mountain Time, the Roadrunners face Air Force, which defeated UNLV in a quarterfinal Thursday.
In the other semifinal today, Denver will face host New Mexico. Denver beat San Jose State 2-1 in overtime Thursday.
New Mexico is ranked No. 9 in the country with six straight shutout victories.
The MPSF Tournament title match is Sunday, with that winner qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
Tobin arrived in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, one day before the rest of the squad, to watch both of the Thursday matches.
"We just played Air Force a week ago and set a record for the most shots we've ever had, 31," Tobin said of the match that ended 1-1. "We beat Denver 2-0 a couple of weeks ago."
CSUB will be missing junior defender Scott Luedtke, who was ejected from the Roadrunners' regular-season finale after receiving a red card and must sit out today's match.
"That's a big loss because he's been a very good player for us," Tobin said.
Gyasi Zardes, who won the MPSF's MVP award for the second straight season, ranks among the national leaders with 14 goals and 37 points. He and Lucas Dall'Orso share the team lead with nine assists.