FULLERTON, Calif. -
Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari made a statement in his Cal State Northridge debut, scoring two goals to lead the Matadors (1-0) to a 4-0 win over the Portland Pilots (0-1) on Friday afternoon on the first day of the Wilson Titan Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton. Sophomore Edwin Rivas scored a goal and added an assist and senior defender Joe Franco tallied a score of his own as the Matadors put up their best offensive performance since 2010.
"We created a lot of opportunities in the first half and were able to capitalize on three of them," said head coach Terry Davila. "Sagi played wonderfully and Edwin was dangerous all game."
Portland looked to be the aggressor early as the Pilots consistently moved the ball forward before the Northridge defense took possession.
A corner kick in the fifth minute of action nearly led to a Portland goal but Northridge goalkeeper Michael Abalos made a save on a shot from point-blank range to keep the match scoreless. Another corner kick in the ninth minute resulted in a disallowed goal as a Pilot player was whistled for a foul in the box before his shot went into the net.
From then on, the Matadors seized control of the match, scoring their first goal in the 22nd minute. Lev-Ari, in his first match in a Northridge jersey, received a ground cross from Rivas and shot the ball from the top of the box into the right side of the goal.
The Matadors doubled the lead less than 12 minutes later as defender Yuval Barak fed a ball to Rivas who charged down the left side of the field. Rivas dribbled past a pair of defenders and beat the goalkeeper on the near side for his first goal of the season.
Then, in the 38th minute, Franco got in on the scoring action and scored his second career goal and first since 2009. Carlos Benavides passed to Franco in the box and the senior spun by a defender and shot the ball into the left side of the goal.
The Matadors continued the attack in the second half, recording five shots in the first 20 minutes of play. In the 70th minute Lev-Ari scored again, this time taking a pass from Christian Gonzalez Diaz and blasting the ball into the goal from nearly 30 yards out on the right side.
Abalos made four saves on the night to record his 15th career shutout and move into second place on the all-time list for clean sheets at CSUN. Dustin Munger received a caution in the 54th minute for Portland while Armando Gutierrez was shown the yellow card in the 66th minute for Northridge.
Cal State Northridge improved to 22-11-2 in season openers and scored four goals in a match for the first time since September 26, 2010 against Air Force, also a 4-0 win.
The Matadors look to complete the Wilson Titan Classic with a spotless record when they take on the American University Eagles at Titan Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 11:30 a.m. The Eagles defeated Cal State Fullerton 1-0 on Friday night in their first match of the classic.