October 10, 2012

Matadors Host UC Riverside in Lone Big West Contest this Week

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors return home to Matador Soccer Field this week for one match against UC Riverside. The Matadors and Highlanders will square off on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. Saturday is also Breast Cancer Awareness Night and all fans wearing pink will receive admission for $3. The match against the Highlanders will be the first for Northridge against a member of the Big West South Division, as the Matadors will face division opponents in each of their remaining six matches.

Saturday's match against UC Riverside will feature live stats coverage and an Internet-only radio broadcast available on GoMatadors.com. Fans can access the audio broadcast 15 minutes before the scheduled start time and can also monitor Cal State Northridge's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for scoring updates throughout the match. Following the contest against the Highlanders, Northridge will travel to Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine for a pair of matches next week.

Match #14:

Matadors (9-4-0, 3-1-0 Big West) vs. UC Riverside Highlanders (8-4-0, 1-3-0 Big West)

Saturday, Oct. 14 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Breast Cancer Awareness Night - All Fans Wearing Pink Receive $3 Admission
Youth Night - All Youth 17 & Under Receive Free Admission

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com

Audio:
Geoff Herberg, Play-by-Play
In-game Twitter updates:
@GoMatadors

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 UC Riverside
The Matadors return home this week for one match against the UC Riverside Highlanders. Northridge enters the week having won seven of its last eight matches while the Highlanders own a record of 8-4-0 and a mark of 1-3-0 in the Big West. After starting the season 7-0 UC Riverside has dropped four of its last five, including back-to-back 1-0 matches at UC Davis and Sacramento State last week.

Aaron Long leads the Highlanders offensively with four goals and one assist for nine points while teammate Jose Diaz has two goals and an assist for five points this year. Neither will be in action this weekend as both received red cards in Sunday's match at Sacramento State. In Long's absence, Ruben Valencia is the team's leading scorer with four goals and eight points in eight matches.

Otis Earle has tallied four assists to lead the Highlanders and has also scored two goals on the season.

Goalkeeper Ashkan Khosravi has started every match for UC Riverside and is responsible for its 8-4 record. He has collected four shutouts on the season and has made 44 saves. Khosravi has allowed 13 goals in 12 matches and has a 1.10 goals against average.

The Highlanders are currently second in the Big West South Division with three points, having defeated Cal Poly at home in overtime on September 30.

Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors extended their lead in the Big West Conference South Division last week with a pair of wins at Cal Poly and then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. The Matadors went to the Central Coast and accomplished a rare feat by winning both matches against the Mustangs and Gauchos on the road since 1998. Northrildge had not beaten UCSB at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium since 1999 when the program was a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF).

On Friday at Cal Poly, the Matadors took an early advantage on a Mustang error that put Northridge ahead for good in the first minute. After the opening kickoff, the Mustangs played the ball back to their goalkeeper to try to build an advantage. The goalkeeper played too strong of a first touch, however, and Northridge forward Sagi Lev-Ari was there to steal the ball inside the six-yard box and easily tap it in for the goal. Lev-Ari's goal was his 10th of the season, a number that ranks him at the top of the Big West and ties for fourth in all of Division I soccer as of October 8.

CSUN goalkeeper Michael Abalos made three saves in net for the Matadors to pick up his fourth shutout of the season. The Northridge defense held Cal Poly to just nine total shots and three shots on goal in the match. Five different Matadors recorded a shot on goal on the night but Cal Poly recorded four second-half saves to keep the final scoreline at 1-0.

On Sunday at UC Santa Barbara the Matadors shocked the No. 4 Gauchos, handing UCSB its first loss of the season and first home loss in the series in 13 years. Beto Velasquez provided the necessary offense for Northridge, scoring his sixth goal of the season in the 31st minute of play. Although the teams ended the night tied in shots (12-12), saves (4-4) and fouls (11-11), it was Velasquez's shot through the legs of the Gaucho goalkeeper that boosted the Matadors to victory.

Abalos made four saves to earn his conference-leading fifth shutout of the season. For his work on the week, Abalos was named the Big West Defensive Player of the Week and the College Sports Madness Big West Player of the Week. Northridge is now 3-1-0 in Big West play and leads the South Division. This week's opponent, UC Riverside, is second in the South at 1-3-0.

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-plus seasons at Northridge. Abalos is now in fourth place with his 24 career victories, is sixth all-time with his 1.23 career goals against average and is second all-time with his 19 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 64 matches in goal place him third on the all-time list. This season, Abalos has an 8-4 record with five shutouts and a 0.74 goals against average.

Strike Force
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. At the end of the non-conference slate, Rivas has six goals, an assist and 13 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. He scored the game-winning goal over Temple in a 2-1 win on September 16 and added an insurance goal against UC Davis on September 28 in a 2-0 win. For his career, Rivas now has 11 goals, one assist and 23 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. Lev-Ari also scored two goals in wins over Army and San Diego and scored 21 seconds in to help CSUN defeat Cal Poly on the road on October 5.. Lev-Ari currently leads the Big West and is tied for fourth in the country with 10 goals scored. He also leads the conference with five game-winning goals.

Mr. Assist
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). He also notched a pair of assists in CSUN's 5-0 win over Army on September 14. Benavides currently leads the Big West with six assists and has a 0.46 assists per game average through 13 matches.

Welcome Home
Junior midfielder Beto Velasquez is a main cog of the Northridge offense and is tied for second on the team with six goals and 13 points. After transferring to CSUN from Virginia Tech the Panorama City, Calif., native has helped Northridge to key victories in the team's quest to get back to the postseason. He scored the game-winning goal against American (8/26) as Northridge won the Wilson Titan Classic and also had the lone goal in CSUN's win at then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (10/7).

One Plus One is Three or Four
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. Lev-Ari followed up his display with another two-goal outing in a 5-0 win over Army (9/14) in Northridge's home opener and a pair of goals at San Diego (9/20). The forward scored the eventual game-winning goal in the sixth minute and added another in the 55th against Army and scored twice in the opening 10:27 against the Toreros to lead the Matadors to their largest margins of victory since a 6-1 win over Detroit on Aug. 31, 2007.

Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
As the regular season enters its final month, a number of Matadors are solidifying their place in the individual rankings for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas leads the conference in shots taken (49). He ranks among the leaders in points (T-3rd - 13), points per game (T-5th - 1.00), goals (T-3rd - 6) and goals per game (T-6th - 0.46). He also leads the league with 3.77 shots per game. Sagi Lev-Ari ranks second with 1.54 points per game and is third in the Big West with 44 shots taken. Lev-Ari is the league leader in points (20) and goals (10) and ranks second in goals per game (0.77). Beto Velasquez checks in at eighth in the conference with 27 shots. He ties for third with 13 points and six goals. Carlos Benavides lead the Big West with six assists and is first with 0.46 assists per game while teammates Yuval Barak, Chris Smith and David Turcios check in tied for eighth with three helpers. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks second in the conference in goals against average (0.74) and save percentage (.800), and is seventh in saves per game (3.00). He leads the league with 0.42 shutouts per game and five shutouts. His 36 saves are sixth among all Big West goalkeepers.

Manufacturing Points
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field early in the season. In the team's matches to this point, seven different players have scored a goal and 13 total Matadors have recorded at least one point. The team has put up 76 points thus far to lead the Big West Conference in that category. Each of the four goals against the Portland Pilots in the season-opening 4-0 win had an assist by a different player. Among the point scorers for Northridge are six forwards, four midfielders and three defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with 20. Edwin Rivas (13), Beto Velasquez (13), Jose Luis Garcia (3), Brian Behrad (3), Joe Franco (3) and David Turcios (5) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (6), Yuval Barak (3), Carlos Gonzalez (1), Christian Gonzalez Diaz (2), Chris Smith (3) and Rene Anguiano (1) have earned assists. Lev-Ari has scored a goal in seven matches this year and leads the team with 10 goals.

Redefining the "Matador Defense"
The Matadors are changing what it means to be guilty of playing a "Matador Defense." So far this season, Northridge has recorded seven shutouts after earning a total of eight in 2011. The Matadors have won seven of their last eight matches, six of which have been shutouts. The Northridge defense has allowed just two goals scored in the last 732 minutes played and ranks 18th in the nation with a combined 0.69 goals against average.

You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
With six games remaining in the regular season, the Matadors lead the Big West Conference in shots taken (232), goals scored (26), and points (76), and rank tied for second in goals per game (2.00). Over Northridge's two matches against Army and Temple, the team took a combined 49 shots and scored seven goals. Their opposition took just 15 shots and scored once. The next match, Northridge erupted for five more goals at San Diego (9/20). Eighteen different Matadors have recorded a shot this season and just under 40 percent of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded 141 total shots and 47 shots on goal, scoring nine times.

Road Warriors
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. This year, Northridge is 3-3-0 in road matches and 2-0-0 in neutral-site contests. The team won the Wilson Titan Classic at Cal State Fullerton to open the season and also won both road matches in the same year at Cal Poly and No. 4 UC Santa Barbara for the first time since joining the Big West. The Matadors have been solid at home, winning four matches and outscoring opponents 11-2 at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge will travel to face Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Riverside in Big West Conference play before the season is through.

Getting the Job Done
With the final month of action coming up, the Matadors have 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. Northridge has also been impressive offensively in a pair of 5-0 victories at home against Army (9/14) and at San Diego (9/20). Prior to this season, the Matadors hadn't scored five goals in a match and hadn't won by a five-goal margin since winning 6-1 over Detroit in the team's home opener on August 31, 2007. On October 7, the Matadors went in to Santa Barbara and came away with a 1-0 win over then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. It was the first win for CSUN at Harder Stadium since the 1999 season.

Quick Out of the Gates
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 started the year 2-0 for the first time since the 2005 campaign. That team reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 26-9 in home openers after a 5-0 win over Army on September 14. They are 21-7-4 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 9-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 2-0 on Sept. 28, 2012. 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.

Ticket Information
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.