Sunday’s loss to San Diego State hurt OSU’s RPI, but playing in Pac-12 allows for playoff hopes
After Oregon State men’s soccer coach Steve Simmons addressed his team’s lackluster performance on Sunday, he raised a point he’s brought up several times since conference play began nearly three weeks ago.
“The good news is we’re in the number one conference in the country,” he said, “and all it takes is a couple wins to get your RPI jacked up again.”
A team’s Ratings Percentage Index is based upon its record and strength of schedule and goes a long way in determining its postseason chances.
Because the Beavers won seven of nine nonconference games, and because the Pac-12 boasts three of the nation’s top four teams, OSU players and coaches have believed for weeks that even a mediocre conference record would result in a high RPI and, hopefully, an NCAA Tournament bid.
This week, OSU (7-6-1, 0-4-1 Pac-12) dropped from 57th to 69th in the RPI because of Sunday’s loss to a San Diego State team that began the day with a 3-7-1 record.
On Tuesday, Simmons maintained that four weeks (or five games) is enough time to significantly improve their RPI despite the recent step back.
“We’re in a position because the RPI in the conference is so high that we can get into that bubble area where all of the sudden you’re doing some things,” Simmons said. “We know that, the guys know that. There’s nothing more to it. We just have to make sure we can do the things we need to do.”
The 48-team postseason field is made up of 22 automatic qualifiers (conference champions) and 26 at-large selections. There are a number of factors the selection committee takes into consideration, but simple math suggests a team needs a top-40 RPI to have a realistic chance of receiving a bid.
Other men’s soccer notes:
• The Beavers will face both UCLA and SDSU for a second consecutive weekend — the No. 4 Bruins at 6 p.m. on Friday in Los Angeles and the Aztecs at noon on Sunday in San Diego.
Following its trip to Southern California, OSU gets a weekend off from games before hosting No. 1 Cal on Nov. 8, Stanford on Nov. 10 and No. 3 Washington on Nov. 17 to close out the regular season.
• OSU has used the same starting lineup three games in a row: two freshmen (MF Devonte Small, MF Michael Steele), three sophomores (G Matt Bersano, MF Bjorn Sandberg, MF Mikhail Doholis), four juniors (D Will Seymore, D Brenden Anderson, MF Mike Reckmeyer, F Chance Bergen) and two seniors (D Josh Smith, D Alex Eckerson).
Senior Borce Atanasov, junior Jackson Groves and freshmen Ole Sandnes, Matt Arbogast and Brendan Woodfull were all used off the bench against both UCLA and SDSU.
Simmons said minutes could be distributed differently this weekend since the Beavers will be playing their third and fourth games in the span of nine days.
“I could foresee more rotation just because of the freshness that’s going to be required to make sure the guys aren’t dead-legged out there,” Simmons said.
• Junior forward Khiry Shelton, who leads the Beavers in goals (four) and points (nine) despite having missed their last six games, remains out with a back injury.
“We just check on him day by day,” Simmons said. “He won’t travel (to Southern California) this weekend. But we have a bye week (the following week), so we’ll see what happens. We have basically two more weeks and we’ll see how he feels. But at the end of the day, we’re not going to risk injuring the kid.”
Shelton, who last played Sept. 22 versus San Jose State, has been plagued by injuries throughout his collegiate career. A foot injury ended his freshman season after just six games and he missed three games due to injuries last year.
• OSU individual statistics notes:
- Bergen scored his first career goal on Friday.
- Small picked up his second career assist on Friday.
- Atanasov totaled seven shot attempts (all on goal) against UCLA and SDSU. He now has a team-high 23 shot attempts on the season.
- Bersano made nine saves versus UCLA and three saves versus SDSU to up his season total to 63, which makes it the leader in the Pac-12.
Grady Garrett, sports reporter
On Twitter @gradygarrett