Matadors Head to New Mexico for Invitational This Week

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The Cal State Northridge Matadors travel to Albuquerque, N.M. this week to participate in the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational on the campus of the University of New Mexico. The Matadors open the week on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. MT (4:00 p.m. PT) with a match against the Missouri State Bears. Two days later, Northridge will take on the host Lobos at 1:00 p.m. MT. The match against New Mexico will be available online via GameTracker and can be accessed by clicking on the "Live Stats" link on the men's soccer schedule page at GoMatadors.com. Following the weekend in Albuquerque, the Matadors will head north to take on Cal State Bakersfield on Thursday, Sept. 15.

2011 Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic Wrap-Up

The 2011 Labor Day Classic was a two-day event, featuring the Matadors, the Cal State Fullerton Titans, the UNLV Rebels and the defending national champion Akron Zips. On Thursday, Sept. 1, the Titans and the Zips played to a scoreless draw to kick off the action, after No. 2 Akron had dismantled Cleveland State 5-0 a week earlier. In the night cap, the Matadors used a late goal to draw level with UNLV at 1-1 before a rebound was corraled by the Rebels and shot in for a goal to end the match in overtime.

On Saturday, Sept. 3, UNLV and Fullerton did battle in a contest that saw the Titans score twice in the first few minutes of action, eventually coming away with a 5-1 victory. In the marquee match of the Classic, the Matadors and Zips played one for the ages as a gutsy performance by the Matadors and goalkeeper Michael Abalos kept Northridge within range late in the game with his 12 saves. Down a man and a goal with less than 10 minutes to play, freshman Yarden Azulay evened the score but the Matadors would fall 2-1 in double overtime. In the end, the Titans walked away with the tournament title on goal differential and CSUN's Abalos and Joe Franco were named to the All-Tournament Team.

The All-Tournament Team consisted of four players from Cal State Fullerton, three each from UNLV and Akron, and two from Cal State Northridge. The players recognized for their performances were Bobby Reiss, Michael Denny, Oscar Aquero and Kevin Venegas (CSUF), Mike Mota, Jonny Espinoza and Salvador Bernal (UNLV), Darren Mattocks, Scott Caldwell and David Meves (Akron) and Michael Abalos and Joe Franco (CSUN).

A Closer Look at Missouri State

The Missouri State Bears come into this week with an overall record of 0-3-0 after dropping matches to Tulsa and Memphis last week. The Bears entered 2011 coming off of a season in which they went 8-7-3 and finished in a tie for second place in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 4-1-2 mark.

Top returners for Missouri State include senior midfielders Gerard Barbero and Heath Melugin. Barbero netted five goals and added three assists last season, while Melugin scored seven goals and assisted one. Also returning is senior midfielder David Buckenheimer, who recorded four assists in 2010.

Goal scorers for the Bears this year include James Fawke and Jared Gain, who each have one. Assists have come from Thomas Vania and Dan Williams, and goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg has logged all 270 minutes in net so far.

The only previous match between Northridge and Missouri State came in 2001 in Tulsa, Okla. as the Matadors emerged with a 3-2 neutral-site victory. The Bears will face Columbia at the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational on Sunday following the match with the Matadors this Friday.

A Closer Look at New Mexico

The Matadors will take on the New Mexico Lobos at the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational on Sunday, Sept. 11 to wrap up tournament action. Northride has dropped the last five decisions to New Mexico and has not scored a victory over the Lobos since a 4-0 neutral-site win on September 28, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Lobos enter the week with an overall record of 2-0-1, scoring victories against Towson and Santa Clara and earning a scoreless draw at Cal Poly. New Mexico will take on Columbia on Friday before facing the Matadors on Sunday. The Lobos return 11 letterwinners from a team that went 9-6-5 and finished in a second-place tie in the MPSF at 5-2-3 last season. The Lobos were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago.

The leading scorer for the Lobos coming into this week is James Rogers, who has both a goal and an assist to his credit for three points. Blake Smith and Lawrence Robledo also have netted scores for New Mexico and have tallied two points apiece. Michael Green (2 G, 3 A), Lance Rozeboom (2 G, 2 A) and Devon Sandoval (3 G, 2A) highlight returners on the squad this season.

In goal for New Mexico this season is goalkeeper Victor Rodriguez, who has logged all 290 minutes in 2011. Rodriguez has yet to concede a goal and has had to make only seven saves on his way to a 2-0-1 record and three shutouts.

Following the Lobo Invitational, New Mexico will travel to meet Akron in Ohio.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors hosted the 2011 Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic from September 1-3 at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge played matches against UNLV and No. 2 Akron, with Cal State Fullerton also competing in the tournament.

On Thursday, the Matadors faced the Rebels and played them to a scoreless first half. After UNLV scored a goal on a set piece in the second half, redshirt freshman Edwin Rivas redirected a header by Nicholas Hamilton into the net to level the match at one goal apiece. Chris Smith also received an assist on the play. Regulation ended with the sides level and the match went into overtime before UNLV scored the golden goal in the 93rd minute to win.

Northridge then hosted the defending national champion Akron Zips for the first time in school history on Saturday. Despite falling a man down due to a red card in the 18th minute and a goal down in the 25th, the Matadors were able to contain the Zips and ultimately scored the equalizer as Yarden Azulay converted on a breakaway to tie the match in the 82nd minute. Between the time that Northridge went a man down and Azulay's goal, goalkeeper Michael Abalos made seven saves to keep the deficit at one goal, allowing the Matadors back into the match.

The contest eventually reached the second overtime before it was ended as a cross in front of the goal for Akron was hammered in for the match winner, allowing Akron to escape with a 2-1 victory.

Welcome to the Century Club

With the 2-0 victory over Canisius on August 26, head coach Terry Davila became the sixth coach in Big West history to win 100 games as a member of the conference. Even though Davila entered the 2011 season with 113 career wins to his credit, the first 14 were earned as member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. In 2001 the Matadors switched conference affiliation from the MPSF to the Big West, since then Davila's teams have compiled a 100-67-32 overall record (.583 pct.). With his victory over Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 2, 2010, Davila became just the third head coach to win 50 or more Big West Conference matches.

Bring the Noise

Have a drum, cow bell, or other noisemaker lying around at home? Now is the time to bring it out and explore the space of Matador Soccer Field! The Big West Conference office announced this past summer that all noisemakers, with the exceptions of airhorns and whistles, will now be allowed at all conference matches and all home venues. As such, fans are encouraged to get into the action in a whole new way by making noise for their team during each contest. Previously, no outside noisemakers were permitted at any game and violaters were subject to removal from the site. Please note that noisemakers have been approved for use at men's and women's soccer matches only, and will be confiscated in the Matadome or at any other Northridge athletics venue.

Scoring from All Positions

So far in 2011, the Matadors have seen four goals scored by four different players. Christian Gonzalez Diaz, Yarden Azulay, Edwin Rivas and Chris Smith have all found the back of the net for Northridge this season. Equally as impressive is that the Matadors have a total of four assists by four different players as well, with Smith as the only Matador to have a goal and a helper thus far. Midfielder Rene Anguiano, defender Nicholas Hamilton, and redshirt sophomore Gustavo Villalobos have each been credited with an assist. In all, the Matadors have tallied 12 points and have seen offensive production from all parts of the pitch, working the attack through a variety of positions to break down the opposition. The 12 points are fourth-most in the Big West.

Captain Assist

In the exhibition match against Cal State Dominguez Hills on August 20, junior captain Joe Franco recorded three assists for the Matadors. He used his position as the right back to set up three different goal scorers on the night. His long throw-in in the 10th minute found Thomas Ramos in the box for a goal and a cross to Brian Behrad in the second half led to a score off the forward's head. Franco was also credited with an assist on Christian Gonzalez Diaz' goal as he sent a long through ball to Taylor Bowlin, who crossed it to Gonzalez Diaz for the score. While the stats from the exhibition are not official and will not be added to his career totals, the performance shown by Franco is promising as he assumes a role in the offense for Northridge. Prior to Saturday's friendly, Franco had scored one goal and one assist in his two seasons with the Matadors.

The New-Look Matadors

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will see an influx in new talent this season as 12 players on the squad are new to the program. In addition to four transfer student-athletes, Northridge has added eight true freshmen and will also see the return of freshman Edwin Rivas and sophomore Yuval Barak, who both redshirted the 2010 season. In the season-opening win over Canisius, freshman Christian Gonzalez Diaz netted an insurance goal late in the match off of a corner kick to ensure the 2-0 victory. Rivas headed home the equalizer in the 79th minute against UNLV (9/1) and Yarden Azulay scored in the 82nd minute to even the score against No. 2 Akron (9/3).

Matadors In The Big West Top-Ten

Now two weeks into the season, a number of Matadors are making their marks on the rest of the conference both offensively and defensively. Forward Edwin Rivas ranks tied for sixth in the league with 11 shots take and tied for fifth with 3.67 shots per game. Chris Smith checks in with three points, good for a tie for seventh. The quartet of Gustavo Villalobos, Rene Anguiano, Nicholas Hamilton and Smith is tied for third in the Big West with each member earning one assist thus far. In net, goalkeeper Michael Abalos is tied for second with a .778 save percentage and leads the conference with 14 saves and a 7.00 saves per game average.

Down But Not Out

In the Matadors' match against No. 2 Akron on September 3, Northridge played down a man for 66 minutes due to an accumulation of yellow cards by Nicholas Hamilton. In the 25th minute of action, the Zips took advantage of the man advantage and pulled ahead with a 1-0 lead. Not to be put away, the Matadors played a more defensive game, with goalkeeper Michael Abalos recording seven saves between the time of the red card and when freshman Yarden Azulay scored to even the match on a breakaway in the 82nd minute. So far this season, the Matadors have rallied from a goal down to tie the match twice (vs. UNLV and Akron), both times after the 75th minute.

The Friendly Confines

Of the 19 matches on the schedule this year, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will play just over half of their contests at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge will host ten games in 2011, including the Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic, squaring off against such programs as UNLV, SMU, UC Santa Barbara and defending national champion Akron. Since relocating from North Campus Stadium to their current facility before the start of the 2002 season, Matador Soccer Field has presented a strong advantage for the Matadors. In the 80 games played on-campus, CSUN possesses an overwhelming 51-21-8 record at home for a .688 winning percentage on their home turf.

Strength of Schedule

Known for assembling a tough non-conference schedule, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will once again take on a number of teams ranked in national polls throughout the season. As ranked in the preseason national poll by the NSCAA, the Matadors will face five squads in the top 25. Northridge played host to No. 2 Akron on Sept. 3, and will face No. 5 SMU on Sept. 23, No. 24 UC Irvine on Oct. 26 and No. 14 UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 1. The Matadors will also travel to cross-town rival No. 6 UCLA on Oct. 22.

Nifty at Fifty

With his victory over Cal State Fullerton on October 2nd, 2010, CSUN head coach Terry Davila became just the third head coach to win 50 or more Big West Conference matches. UC Santa Barbara's Tim Vom Steeg is the only other coach with 50 or more Big West victories to his credit.

Keep Your Heads on a Swivel

Last year, the Matador set their season team-highs in shots taken and shots on goal against the UC Riverside Highlanders. In the 2009 conference-opening match in Riverside, CSUN fired 30 shots at the Highlander goalkeeper, 15 of which were on goal. In 2010, the Matadors nearly matched that mark as they blasted 28 shots at the Highlander net, including ten on goal in their only contest of the season, which took place in Northridge. CSUN tallied 24 shots in the season opener against Canisius on August 26, four less than 2010's season high. 

Quick Out of the Gates

The Matadors are 19-7-4 in conference season openers, and have only been defeated once in a Big West opener. CSUN has not lost a conference opener since 2002, when they were on the wrong side of a 2-1 decision against UC Irvine at home. The last time the Matadors tied a conference opening match was in 2007 at Cal State Fullerton, the same squad they defeated to open the Big West season in 2010. The longest streak for conference opening wins in Matador history is 10 seasons, accomplished from 1978-87 under the direction of head coaches Zvi Friedman, Ric Fonseca and Marwan Ass'ad.

Rewriting the Record Books

One indication of the success goalkeeper Michael Abalos has earned so far in his career can be seen in the Matador record books as the San Juan Capistrano native earned a spot on four different lists with his numbers earned during his first two seasons at Northridge. Abalos now owns eighth place with his 10 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.44 career goals against average, and is tied for seventh all-time with Mike Caputo (1985-87) with his seven career shutouts. His five clean sheets earned in 2009 is also the seventh-highest number of shutouts earned in a season, tying him with Joe Barton (2001) and Mike Littman (1989) and their respective single-season performances.

Survey Says....

The 2011 Cal State Northridge men's soccer team received 20 points and was picked to finish fifth in the 2011 Big West Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches poll as announced by the league office in mid-August. Northridge was beat out by UC Irvine as the Anteaters earned 30 points to claim fourth place in the voting. Finishing in third place with 32 total points was Cal State Fullerton, with Cal Poly earning 40 points and a first-place vote to grab second place. UC Santa Barbara lead the way for the second year in a row with 48 points and six first place votes. UC Davis and UC Riverside rounding out the poll in sixth and seventh place respectively with 14 and 12 points.

Ticket Information

Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $5, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $3. There is also a $3 discounted rate ticket for CSUN Faculty/Staff, Military Service Personnel and CSUN Alumni Association Members with their respective identification cards. CSUN students receive free admission to all home games with their CSUN I.D. Groups of 10 or more people may purchase $3 tickets, but tickets must be purchased a minimum of 24 hours in advance. For more information, call the A.S. Ticket Office at 818-677-2488.