September 20, 2011

Matadors Return Home to Face SMU, Seattle U This Weekend

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors return home to take on the SMU Mustangs on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. and the Seattle University Redhawks on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 11:00 a.m. Both matches will be broadcast with live stats online via GameTracker, which can be accessed by clicking the "Live Stats" link on the schedule at GoMatadors.com. Friday's match against SMU will also feature a free Internet radio broadcast, which can be accessed by clicking "Audio" or on the headphones at the top of the GoMatadors homepage. For a full recap of this week's matches, as well as updated statistics, be sure to follow @GoMatadors on Twitter and visit GoMatadors.com.

A Closer Look at SMU

The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University come to Northridge this weekend for the first time in program history. The only other meeting between the two sides was in 2009 when the Matadors came away with a 2-1 victory on the road in Dallas.

The Mustangs enter the week with a record of 3-3-0, most recently defeating Dartmouth at home by a score of 2-1 in overtime. SMU played one half against Washington on September 18 but, due to lightning, the match was abandoned and will not be made up. The Mustangs are 1-0-0 on the road in 2011, earning a 1-0 victory against Duke in overtime.

Arthur Ivo leads the Mustangs in scoring so far this season with six points (one goal, four assists). Ivo has taken 18 shots and has put 11 on goal, both figures that lead the team. So far this year, each of the nine goals for SMU have been scored by nine different players and seven Mustangs have at least one assist.

Juan Castillo, Aaron Simmons, Ian Kalis and Tyler Engel, in addition to Ivo, are the five Mustang players with both a goal and an assist this year. Goalkeeper Jaime Ibarra has seen the most minutes in net for SMU, competing in five of six matches. He has allowed three goals and has made 21 saves and owns a record of 3-2-0 with one shutout.

Following the match on Friday against Northridge, SMU will head South on the 405 to take on the No. 18 UCLA Bruins on Sunday.

A Closer Look at Seattle University

The Seattle University Redhawks travel South to Matador Soccer Field to take on Cal State Northridge for the first time in history. The match, which takes place on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 11:00 a.m., is part of a Northridge soccer doubleheader as the women's team faces Portland in the afternoon.

The Redhawks are currently 1-2-2 with a mark of 1-1-1 in road matches. Their lone victory came against Cal Poly in a 2-1 double overtime win in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Seattle has also earned a draw at home against then-No. 23 Washington and will face No. 18 UCLA this Friday evening before the matinee against the Matadors.

The Redhawks are led on offense by Travis Heim, who has netted two goals and also has an assist for five points on the season. Brandon Hamer and Kevin Cook also have goals, and Mikey Ramos leads the team in assists (2), shots (15) and shots on goal (7).

In goal for Seattle University will be Jake Feener, who has played every minute in net this season. He owns a goals allowed average of 1.41 and has 24 saves in 2011. After this week, the Redhawks will continue their California trip with a match against CSU Bakersfield on Oct. 2.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors had one match last week, a meeting with the No. 22 CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners on the road. Northridge entered the match with an all-time record of 22-0-0 against Bakersfield, and had to fight back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first 30 minutes of the match, Northridge was able to strengthen defensively and stop the attack in order to create more chances for its offense. The Matadors were able to score an important goal just before halftime, as Carlos Benavides found Thomas Ramos, who put a shot past the goalkeeper from eight yards out to halve the deficit in the 44th minute.

In the second half, the Matadors were able to even the score in the 60th minute as a corner kick from Chris Smith entered the box and Ramos passed to Brian Behrad, who found the net for the first time this season. The match eventually went into overtime and Northridge was able to hang on for the draw, earning points after dropping its first two OT contests in 2011.

You Cannot Spell Points Without the Letters 'O' and 'T'

Since joining the Big West in 2001, CSUN has played in 51 overtime games, and have failed to earn a point in only 10 of those matches. The last time Northridge won a game in overtime took place in 2009 when CSUN scored the golden goal in overtime against the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Most recently, the Matadors broke a six-match losing streak in OT games by working for a 2-2 draw at CSU Bakersfield after being down 2-0 on Sept. 15.

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. Against No. 22 CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 15, the Matadors rallied from being down two goals on the road to force overtime and earn a draw.

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.

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 10 goals scored by eight different players. Christian Gonzalez Diaz, Yarden Azulay, Edwin Rivas, Chris Smith, Gustavo Villalobos, Taylor Bowlin, Thomas Ramos and Brian Behrad have all found the back of the net for Northridge this season. Equally as impressive is that the Matadors have a total of 11 assists on those goals, with Smith (4), Villalobos (2), and Ramos (1) as the only Matadors to have a goal and a helper thus far. Midfielder Rene Anguiano, defender Nicholas Hamilton, and sophomore Carlos Benavides have each been credited with an assist. In all, the Matadors have tallied 31 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 24 points are third-most in the Big West.

On Point

Midfielder/defender Chris Smith has recorded six points in six matches so far in 2011, good for the team lead in scoring. The Palmdale, Calif. native is averaging 1.0 points per game and is a force in both the offensive and defensive schemes for the Matadors, and also serves as the taker of corner kicks when he is on the pitch. Smith scored Northridge's first goal of the season in the opener against Canisius when he lined up a shot from 30 yards out that curled over the goalkeeper's head and gave CSUN a 1-0 lead. He earned an assist on the only goal in CSUN's 2-1 loss to UNLV and also recorded two helpers in

Northridge's 3-0 defeat of Missouri State in the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. Smith currently leads the Big West in assists (4) and assists per game (0.67) and ranks in a tie for 13th and ninth in the nation in each category, respectively.

Strike Force

After a productive summer working with the Guatemala U-19 team, redshirt freshman Edwin Rivas is showing fans the reason that head coach Terry Davila recruited him to lead the attack. The forward out of Los Angeles has scored two goals so far this season, which put him in a tie for the team lead in that category and in a tie for second on the squad with four points. Rivas leads the team with 14 shots taken through six matches and he is currently tenth in the league in shots per game (2.33). Rivas is currently tied for sixth in the conference in goals scored.

One and One is Three

Sophomore midfielder Thomas Ramos picked an excellent time to tally the first three points of his career. In the match against CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 15, Ramos scored a goal in the 44th minute and added an assist in the 60th to help the Matadors rally from down 2-0 to tie the match. The Northridge defense held on the road, eventually earning a 2-2 draw. Not only did Ramos score his first three points, but his performance was the first three-point match for a Matador player since Oct. 2, 2010 when Gustavo Villalobos had a goal and an assist at Cal State Fullerton. Northridge has produced just five three-point efforts since 2006.

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). Both Rivas and Azulay are the only Matadors with multiple goals this season.

Matadors In The Big West Top-Ten

With just one week until the Big West season commences, a number of Matadors are making their marks on the rest of the conference both offensively and defensively. Forward Edwin Rivas and midfielder Yarden Azulay rank tied for sixth in the league with two goals each and Rivas is tenth with 2.33 shots per game. Chris Smith is tied for seventh in two categories with six points and 1.0 points per game. Smith also ranks tied for first in assists (4) and leads the league in assists per game (0.67). In net, goalkeeper Michael Abalos is fifth with a .743 save percentage, third with 26 saves, and leads the Big West with a 5.20 saves per game average. Statistics are accurate as of September 19.

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 SMU on Sept. 23,  UC Irvine on Oct. 26 and UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 1. The Matadors will also travel to cross-town rival 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-plus seasons at Northridge. Abalos now owns eighth place with his 11 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.44 career goals against average, and is tied for sixth all-time with Mark Macdonald (1993-94) with his eight 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. Abalos is currently tied for 29th in the nation with an average of 5.20 saves per game.

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.

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