Matadors Face UC Davis At Home in Crucial League Match

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors return home to Matador Soccer Field for one match this week against the UC Davis Aggies on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. It will be a rematch of the Matadors' 3-0 conference-opening win at UC Davis on Sept. 28 and will also be Breast Cancer Awareness Night at the field, with all fans wearing pink receiving free admission to the contest. The match will be broadcast online with live stats on GameTracker and will also feature an Internet-only radio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. Eldrick Bone and Raul Delgado will call the action in their first season as the radio voices of Matador Men's Soccer. A live stats link and the radio stream can be accessed by visiting the men's soccer schedule on GoMatadors.com and clicking the links next to this week's match.

A Closer Look at UC Davis

The Matadors will host the UC Davis Aggies on Saturday night at Matador Soccer Field. The match will mark the regular-season finale between the two programs, as the Matadors won the first meeting between the sides 3-0 in the conference opener on Sept. 28 in Davis. Thomas Ramos scored a goal and Rafael Garcia converted two penalty kick attempts for Northridge as the Matadors defeated the Aggies for the first time since 2005.

The Aggies come into the week with a record of 4-6-2 and a mark of 2-2-0 in conference play. The six points put UC Davis in fourth place in the Big West based on win percentage. Since dropping a 3-0 decision to Northridge, the Aggies defeated UC Riverside and Cal Poly by 1-0 scores before falling in their last match 2-1 to UC Santa Barbara in overtime on Oct. 8.

UC Davis will enjoy a bye as it has no midweek match before traveling to meet Northridge this weekend. The match between the Matadors and Aggies will also be Breast Cancer Awareness Night at Matador Soccer Field and all fans wearing pink will receive free admission. Tao Omega Rho Fraternity will also be on hand to collect donations for cancer research.

Matt Wiesenfarth leads the Aggies with four goals scored and eight points through 12 matches. Although he has only started on five occassions, Wiesenfarth has capitalized on his role as a tactical sub to pace UC Davis' attack. He also leads the team in shots on goal (10) and shot percentage (.211), and is the only member of the squad with more than one goal scored in 2011.

Eddie Manella and Alex Aguiar are tied for second on the team with three points as each has scored a goal and recorded an assist for the Aggies this season. Manella leads the team in shots (22) and Aguiar checks in at second with 19, a total that also ties with Wiesenfarth. Matt Sheldon leads all Aggies with two assists. On the year, six different players have scored a goal and eight individuals have earned at least one assist.

Omar Zeenni has been the goalkeeper for UC Davis all year and has started each match in net in 2011. He has made 41 saves and also has earned four shutouts. In the match against Northridge on Sept. 28, Zeenni was shown a yellow card for a tackle made on Thomas Ramos in the box that led to one of the Matadors' two penalty kick goals. On the season, Zeenni has allowed 12 goals and has a goals allowed average of 0.94.

Results from Last Week

The Matadors played two Big West Conference opponents last week, beginning with the No. 7 UC Irvine Anteaters in Irvine on Saturday, Oct. 8. The match was billed as a battle for first place in the conference as the Matadors and the Anteaters each owned six points going in. In the end, some misfortune for Northridge led to two second-half goals for UC Irvine and the Anteaters were able to come away with the victory. The loss gave the Matadors their first blemish in the Big West season and momentarily put them in second place in the standings.

UC Irvine was able to score the first goal of the match in the 58th minute on an own goal as a failed clearance by the Matadors resulted in the ball rolling into the net. The second score came in the 89th minute of play on another miscue, as an Irvine cross was deflected by the defense into the post, where Miguel Ibarra cleaned it up for the Anteaters. In all, Northridge recorded 13 shots and had 11 on goal, but were unable to score.

Northridge rebounded on Tuesday by defeating Cal Poly on the road 2-0. The three points picked up by the Matadors put them in a tie for first place in the conference with UC Irvine at nine points. Thomas Ramos and Brian Behrad scored goals and Nicholas Hamilton and Carlos Benavides earned assists to lead Northridge to its first victory over the Mustangs since Oct. 26, 2005, breaking a streak of eight winless matches (four ties, four losses). 

Ramos got the scoring started in the seventh minute of play when he beat the goalkeeper on a breakaway. Hamilton was able to flick a pass beyond the defense that was met by Ramos, who scored his fourth goal of the season. In the 66th minute, Benavides sent a ball forward to Behrad, who beat the last defender and scored after going one-on-one with the goalkeeper for his second goal of the year. Garcia earned his first assist of 2011 and Benavides now has seven helpers.

No Time to Waste

Sophomore forward Thomas Ramos leads the team in scoring with 10 points through 12 matches. In 2011, Ramos has scored four goals and has recorded two assists to pace the Matadors after a freshman campaign with zero points. Two of Ramos' four goals this year have come in the first ten minutes of the match, in the fourth minute at UC Davis and the seventh minute at Cal Poly, both Northridge victories. He also scored with under 10 minutes remaining against Seattle (3-0 win) and with one minute left in the first half at No. 22 CSU Bakersfield (2-2 tie). In all, the Matadors are 3-0-1 this season when Ramos records at least one point.

Mr. Assist

Sophomore midfielder Carlos Benavides has been a major part of the Northridge offense this season and is the team leader in assists with seven. Benavides recorded an assist on the only Northridge goal at New Mexico (9/11) and also earned assists at CSU Bakersfield (9/15) and against Seattle University (9/25). He put on his most impressive display, however, against Cal State Fullerton when he tallied three assists in a 3-0 victory, earning Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors in the process. On the season, Benavides leads the conference in assists and assists per game (0.70) and is tied for 15th and third in the nation in those categories, respectively. With three assists against Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 1, Benavides can also claim the second most assists in a game this season in the NCAA. NCAA stats are current as of Oct. 10.

On Point

Midfielder/defender Chris Smith has recorded nine points in 12 matches so far in 2011, good for second on the team in scoring. The Palmdale, Calif. native is averaging 0.75 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. He also headed home the Matadors' second goal in the 3-0 victory over Seattle. Smith currently ranks tied for second in the Big West in assists (5) and is second in assists per game (0.45) and ranks in a tie for 28th in the nation in total assists.

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 three goals so far this season, which put him in a tie for the team lead in that category and in a tie for fourth on the squad with six points. Rivas is second on the team with 25 shots taken and tied for first with 11 shots on goal in 11 matches.

One and One is Three

A number of Matadors have put up multiple-point performances in a match this season. Sophomore Thomas Ramos had a goal and an assist in a 2-2 draw at #22 CSU Bakersfield (9/15) and again in a match against Seattle University (9/25). Against #19 Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 1, both Christian Gonzalez Diaz and Carlos Benavides tallied three points, as Gonzalez Diaz scored and had an assist and Benavides recorded three different helpers. Senior captain Rafael Garcia twice converted penalty kicks into goals at UC Davis (9/28) for the only four-point display by a Matador so far this season.

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 15 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.44 career goals against average, and is third all-time with his 12 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. His 45 matches in goal place him fourth in the all-time list for career matches, one behind Radames Lafaurie (2001-04) for third.

Matadors In The Big West Top-Ten

With the Big West Conference season nearing the halfway point, a number of Matadors rank among their peers in the conference statistics, both offensively and defensively. Forward Thomas Ramos ranks tied for eighth in the league with four goals and eighth with 10 points. Midfielder Chris Smith ranks tied for ninth with nine points and 10th with 0.75 points per game. Midfielder Carlos Benavides leads the league in assists (7) and assists per game (0.70). In net, goalkeeper Michael Abalos is second with a .789 save percentage, fourth with 45 saves and is third with a 4.09 saves per game average. He is also tied for second with five shutouts on the season. Statistics are accurate as of Oct. 13.

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). Rivas, Gonzalez Diaz and Azulay have multiple goals for Northridge in 2011.

Quick Out of the Gates

The Matadors are 20-7-4 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 Matadors are now 8-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 3-0 on Sept. 28. 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.

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. 

Scoring from All Positions

So far in 2011, the Matadors have seen 21 goals scored by 10 different players. Christian Gonzalez Diaz, Yarden Azulay, Edwin Rivas, Chris Smith, Gustavo Villalobos, Taylor Bowlin, Thomas Ramos, Brian Behrad, Luis Gutierrez and Rafael Garcia have all found the back of the net for Northridge this season. Equally as impressive is that the Matadors have a total of 25 assists on those goals, with Smith (5), Villalobos (2), Ramos (2), Azulay (1) and Gonzalez Diaz (1) as the only Matadors to have a goal and a helper thus far. Midfielder Rene Anguiano (3), defenders Nicholas Hamilton (2), Joe Franco (1), Yuval Barak (1) and sophomore Carlos Benavides (7) have each been credited with an assist. In all, the Matadors have tallied 67 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 67 points are third-most in the Big West.

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 83 games played on-campus, CSUN possesses an overwhelming 53-22-8 record at home for a .687 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 104-71-33 overall record (.579 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, cowbell, 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 violators 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.

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 SMU on Sept. 23, and will face 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.

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.