NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After the first two weeks of the season, the Cal State Northridge men's soccer team has still not played a competitive match in the San Fernando Valley. Northridge opened the campaign with a pair of matches at the Wilson Titan Classic in Fullerton, Calif. before traveling to the East Coast for contests at Georgetown and Loyola University Maryland. This week, the Matadors travel to Las Vegas to take on the Rebels of UNLV at Johann Field for the first time since 2007. The match will bring to a close the season-high five game road trip before the Matadors host their first game at Matador Soccer Field in 2012.
On Saturday, Sept. 8 the men's soccer program will welcome back to Matador Soccer Field its alumni of years gone by. As is the tradition at Cal State Northridge, the members of the current squad will square off against their alumni counterparts in a friendly under the lights at Matador Soccer Field. The match against UNLV will feature live stats coverage with a link to the action available on GoMatadors.com. The annual Alumni Match will not be broadcast but all fans will receive free admission to witness the action live.
Matadors (2-2) at UNLV Rebels (0-3-1)
Friday, Sept. 7 - 1 p.m.
Johann Field (2,500) - Las Vegas, Nev.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors
Saturday, Sept. 8 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,550) - Northridge, Calif.
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home matches this season will include live stats coverage and selected matches will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road contests related links to the game, inlcuding for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the match on the schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athetics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for updates of matches in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
A Closer Look at UNLV
The Matadors travel to Sin City for their only match of the week against the UNLV Rebels. The two sides will play a rematch of UNLV's 2-1 overtime victory at last season's Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic. UNLV enters the match with a record of 0-3-1 this season after playing its first four matches on the road.
The Rebels have tallied three goals on the season and have only been shutout once, failing to score a goal at UC Davis in their season opener. Since then, UNLV has dropped decisions at then-No. 18 Saint Mary's and Cal State Fullerton while working for a draw at Loyola Marymount.
Joaquin Rivas leads the Rebels offensively with two goals and four points on the year. He has taken a team-high 10 shots as well. Rodrigo Fuentes has a goal to his credit to tie for second in scoring with Robert Garcia, who has tallied a pair of assists. Ten different Rebels have registered a shot but the scoring rests on the the shoulders of Rivas, Fuentes, Garcia and Salvador Bernam (one point) through four matches.
Goalkeeper Joe Vitale has logged all 394:23 minutes in net for UNLV and has a record of 0-3-1. He has a goals allowed average of 1.37 and has made nine saves on the year.
Men's Soccer Alumni Return to Matador Soccer Field
Following the match at UNLV, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will return to Southern California for the first time this regular season. On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Matadors will welcome their alumni brothers to Matador Soccer Field for a friendly under the lights. Both men's head coach Terry Davila and women's head coach Keith West are alumni of the soccer program at CSUN and each is looking forward to bringing back players from all decades to compete and interact with the 2012 team.
Coach Davila has surrounded himself with former Matadors, as associate head coach Yossi Raz, assistant coach Peter Bomar and volunteer assistant Zach Feldman all graduated from CSUN and competed on the soccer pitch. The annual alumni match allows for camaraderie between the alumni and veterans and rookies on the squad. Admission to the Alumni Match is free for all fans.
Following the Alumni Match, Cal State Northridge will host its first two home matches of the season against Army on September 14 and Temple on September 16.
Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors dropped a pair of matches last week to fall to 2-2 on the year. After winning its first two matches, Northridge was unable to get a result in two East Coast tilts. Despite hitting the frame multiple times in the second half on Friday, Aug. 31 at then-No. 21 Georgetown, the Matadors were defeated 1-0. Then on Sunday, Sept. 2 at Loyola University Maryland, Northridge held a 1-0 lead late in the first half before an equalizer leveled the score at halftime. Loyola added a goal on a set piece in the second half to win 2-1.
On Friday, Georgetown took the lead on the game's only goal in the 26th minute of play. The Hoyas played a ball up the right side of the field before a ground cross was put home right in front of the net. Northridge had a pair of opportunities to even the match in the first half but both attempts were saved by the goalkeeper. In the 47th minute, Alberto Rosas had his shot saved and Carlos Benavides had his try hit the post in the 51st. Rosas then followed up with a shot in the 57th that struck the crossbar and the Matadors were unable to tie the match before the final horn.
Sunday's match against the Loyola Greyhounds was controlled by the Matadors from the start but they were unlucky not to get a result. Sagi Lev-Ari scored CSUN's goal in the 41st minute to give Northridge a 1-0 advantage from a set piece. Jose Luis Garcia played a short ball to Lev-Ari, who lined a shot through the wall and past the goalkeeper for his third goal of the year.
A pair of goals from set pieces put the Greyhounds up for good, however. In the 43rd minute, a corner kick sailed into the zone and was met with a header to level the match just before halftime. Loyola scored again in the 67th on another header, this time from a free kick off the right side of the box.
Northridge looks to rebound now with a match against UNLV this week before continuing its non-conference slate with home matches against Army and Temple next week.
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. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native earned a spot on four different lists with his numbers earned during his first three seasons at Northridge. Abalos is now tied for seventh place with his 18 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.35 career goals against average and is second all-time with his 15 career shutouts. His seven clean sheets earned in 2011 are also the third-highest number of shutouts earned in a season, tying him with Jeff Blumkin (1988) and Mike Caputo (1986) and their respective single-season performances. His 56 matches in goal place him third on the all-time list.
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. Through the first two weeks of 2012, Rivas has two goals, an assist and five points. Rivas scored a goal and had an assist in Northridge's 4-0 win over Portland and scored the tying goal against American University in a 2-1 win. For his work over the first weekend, he was named the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic Offensive MVP and earned Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors as well. For his career, Rivas now has seven goals, one assist and 15 points.
Everybody Needs a Little Lev-Ari
Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari made a statement in his first match in a Northridge uniform. In the Matadors' 4-0 victory over the Portland Pilots on August 24, Lev-Ari scored the first and last goals of the match to secure his first four points of the season. He became the first Matador with a multiple-goal match since Rafael Garcia put in two penalty kicks at UC Davis on September 28, 2011. On September 2 at Loyola University Maryland, Lev-Ari scored his third goal of the campaign off of a free kick. Jose Luis Garcia touched a short ball to Lev-Ari who fired in a lined shot from about 22 yards out.
Junior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to help the Matadors find ways to score goals. After tying for the Big West Conference lead with eight assists and leading in assists per game (0.47), he is well on his way to taking home the top spot in those categories again this season. At the Wilson Titan Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton Benavides picked up two assists, one in each of the Matadors' victories over Portland (4-0) and American (2-1). Benavides, along with teammate Yuval Barak, is tied for the Big West lead with two assists and is second with a 0.50 assists per game average through four matches.
One and One is Three
Sophomore forward Edwin Rivas was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he accomplished the feat against Portland on August 24. Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari had two goals of his own in that match to record four points as each put up performances that are hard to come by. A number of Matadors put up multiple-point performances in a match last season. 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. Rafael Garcia twice converted penalty kicks into goals at UC Davis (9/28) for the only four-point display by a Matador in 2011.
Matadors In the Big West Top-Ten
With the first two weeks of the regular season in the books, a number of Matadors have jumped into the individual rankings for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas leads the conference in shots taken (13). He ranks among the leaders in points (3rd - 5), points per game (5th - 1.25), goals (T-3rd - 2) and goals per game (T-5th - 0.50). He also ranks ninth in the league with 3.25 shots per game and ties for fifth with one assist. Sagi Lev-Ari is ranked second with 1.50 points per game and is tied for seventh with 10 shots taken. Lev-Ari is tied for first in points (6) and goals (3) and is second in goals per game (0.75).
Beto Velasquez checks in tied for seventh with one goal, while Joe Franco ties for seventh with one goal as well. Yuval Barak and Carlos Benavides tie for first with two assists and tie for second and 0.50 assists per game. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks tied for sixth in the conference in goals against average (1.00) and is sixth in both save percentage (.733) and shutouts per game (0.25). He also ranks tied for fourth with one shutout on the season, sixth with 2.75 saves per game and fourth with 11 overall saves.
Down, But Not Out
Although it is only two weeks into the season, the Matadors have already put up a few exciting performances. Following a 4-0 result against Portland, Northridge found itself down a goal early in the second half against American. It was then that the Matadors rattled off two goals in a span of three minutes to take the lead for good and pick up their second win of the year. Last season, Cal State Northridge was able to rally on more than a few occasions to put the team back into the game. 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 a defender. 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. In all, the Matadors rallied from a goal down to tie the match three times (vs. UNLV, Akron, and UC Santa Barbara), all 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. On Oct. 22 at No. 7 UCLA, the Matadors trailed 2-1 before goals by Brian Behrad (83') and Edwin Rivas (87') led Northridge to its first victory over the Bruins in Westwood and just the second win over UCLA in school history.
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field early in the season. In the team's first four matches, four different players scored a goal and eight total Matadors recorded at least one point. In Northridge's victories over Portland (4-0) and American (2-1), the team put up 18 points and leads the Big West Conference in that category. Each of the four goals against the Pilots had an assist by a different player. Among the point scorers for Northridge are three forwards, three midfielders and two defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with six. Edwin Rivas (5), Beto Velasquez (2) and Joe Franco (2) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (2), Yuval Barak (2), Jose Luis Garcia (1) and Christian Gonzalez Diaz (1) have earned assists. Lev-Ari also scored a goal during CSUN's trip to the East Coast, putting the Matadors ahead of Loyola for a brief period. Rivas is the lone Matador to score at least one goal and an assist this season.
You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
Through the first four matches of the season, the Matadors have taken 61 shots. Cal State Northridge is third in the Big West Conference in shots taken and ties for second in goals scored (7), second in points (21), and fourth in goals per game (1.75). Twelve different Matadors have recorded a shot this season and just under half of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded just 39 total shots and 15 on goal and have scored four times.
Of the 19 matches on the schedule this year, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will play just eight at Matador Soccer Field, including three non-conference matches in September. That may bode well for the Matadors, as the team had a record of 5-3-1 in road contests last season. Northridge opens up the 2012 season with five straight matches away from home beginning with two at the Cal State Fullerton Tournament against Portland and American. CSUN will then head east for matches at Georgetown and Loyola University Maryland before taking on UNLV in Las Vegas on September 7. The Matadors' first home match will take place on Friday, Sept. 14 against Army. Northridge will also travel to face San Diego, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, UV Irvine and UC Riverside this season.
Quick Out of the Gates
Cal State Northridge is 22-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past two. Northridge cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. In addition, Cal State Northridge opened the schedule at a neutral site for the first time since the 2002 season when the Matadors competed in the LMU Tournament in Los Angeles. Northridge went on to play in the NCAA Tournament that season. Northridge is also 2-0 for the first time since the 2005 campaign. That team reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. 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.
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! In 2011, the Big West Conference office announced that all noisemakers, with the exceptions of airhorns and whistles, will be allowed at all conference matches and all home venues. 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.
Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $8, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $5. 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.