California Baptist, Grand Canyon battle for PacWest Championship Nov. 3 in Phoenix

Joey Pacheco PHOENIX - The chase for the 2012 Pacific West Conference men's soccer championship has come down to the final Saturday of the season.

Current conference-leader Grand Canyon (11-1-1/34 points) hosts California Baptist (10-2-1/31 points) in Phoenix this Saturday, Nov. 3, in what amounts to a de facto conference championship game. It marks the final regular-season game for both clubs.

If California Baptist wins, the Lancers claim the league title. If Grand Canyon wins or the teams tie, then the Antelopes leave the playing field hoisting the PacWest Championship trophy.

If California Baptist wins and Notre Dame de Namur (10-2-1/31 points) beats Fresno Pacific, then CBU, NDNU and GCU end up in a three-way tie for first place in the standings with identical 11-2-1 conference marks and 34 points each.

Until this season, tri-champions would have been declared; however, the PacWest made a fundamental shift in standings heading into the 2012-13 competition season by installing tie-breaking procedures. In the past, tiebreakers were used to determine playoff seeding and post-season berths for automatic qualifiers, but now they are used to break deadlocks in the standings.

ASaeed Robinson California Baptist win and an NDNU tie or loss vs. Fresno Pacific would leave the Lancers and the Antelopes of Grand Canyon tied atop the standings. California Baptist would win the conference title by virtue of the first tiebreaker – head-to-head competition. The Lancers would own a 1-0-1 record vs. Grand Canyon on the season.

If CBU wins and NDNU wins, then all three teams will be tied atop the standings. California Baptist would claim the title in a three-way tie because it would have a 2-0-1 mark vs. NDNU and Grand Canyon.

Even though NDNU can end up with the same record as Grand Canyon and California Baptist, they cannot win the conference title.

The wins for both Grand Canyon and NDNU are crucial this week. Unlike women's soccer and volleyball, there is no automatic qualifier in the sport of Division II men's soccer.

That means the Argos and Antelopes need to impress a regional committee to extend their season beyond Nov. 3.

GCU and NDNU are ranked in the top four of the NCAA West Region men's soccer poll this week. Both the 'Lopes and the Argos are hoping for a strong finish that will lead to a spot in the final regional rankings on Selection Monday – Nov. 5.

This past week Grand Canyon whipped Point Loma on Oct. 24 7-2 behind three goals from high-scoring Saeed Robinson. Then on Saturday, GCU and CBU went to double-overtime before settling for a 1-1 tie.  Brandon Hansen scored for the 'Lopes, while Alex Anderson tied it on a late penalty kick for the Lancers.

California Baptist had two victories in the past week. The Lancers blanked Dixie State on Oct. 27 7-0 behind Tyler Garrison's two goals and two assists. After tying GCU on Saturday in Riverside, the Lancers rolled over visiting Point Loma on Oct. 30 by the score of 4-1 behind Michael Salazar's two goals and two assists.

Notre Dame de Namur blanked Holy Names 1-0 and followed up with a 3-2 double-overtime victory vs. Academy of Art. In that win over the Urban Knights, the Argonauts received all three of their goals from high-scoring Jonathan Gonzalez.

The Argos wrap up their season against Fresno Pacific at home on Saturday. The Sunbirds (9-3) ran their winning streak to eight straight matches this past week. FPU plays Point Loma on Thursday, Nov. 1, before finishing the season at NDNU.

Azusa Pacific (9-4) also is hoping to finish strong. The Cougars wrap up their season at Dixie State.  Defending co-champion Hawai'i Pacific (6-3-3) finishes up the season with home contests against Academy of Art and Holy Names.