CSUN Closes Out Regular Season Vs. Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine

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The Cal State Northridge Matadors (12-5, 6-2 Big West) will wrap up the regular season with a pair of home matches this week as the Cal State Fullerton Titans and the UC Irvine Anteaters visit the San Fernando Valley. With the Big West South Division already wrapped up, the Matadors look to get into a position to make a run through next week's Big West Tournament. Northridge will host the Titans on Wednesday night before entertaining the Anteaters on Saturday night. The match against UC Irvine is also Senior Night at Matador Soccer Field, with the Matadors honoring six senior members in their final regular-season home match. Both matches this week begin at 7 p.m.

In addition to Senior Night, Saturday is also Fan Appreciation Day and all fans in attendance wearing CSUN gear/insignia will receive admission for $3. Both of Northridge's matches this week will feature live stats coverage and an Internet-only radio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. Fans can access all of the related links for this week by visitng the men's soccer schedule page at GoMatadors.com.

Match #18:
Matadors (12-5, 6-2 Big West) vs. Cal State Fullerton (7-10-1, 3-4-1 Big West)

Wednesday, Oct. 31 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Links Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Geoff Herberg, Play-By-Play

Match #19:
Matadors vs. UC Irvine (4-13-1, 1-7 Big West)

Saturday, Nov. 3 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com 
Audio: Geoff Herberg, Play-By-Play

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 Cal State Fullerton
The Matadors host the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Halloween night looking to avenge a 5-4 defeat at Titan Stadium two weeks ago. On that night, the Matadors led 4-1 before a run of four goals in 17 minutes lifted the Titans to victory. Cal State Fullerton enters the week at 7-10-1 and is second in the Big West South Division with a mark of 3-4-1 and 10 points.

Ian Ramos leads the team with 17 points on the season and has tallied six goals and five assists. Jesse Escalante has seven goals and two assists to his credit for 16 points. Gerzon Blanco (3), Jameson Campbell (2) and Anthony Rosales (2) are the other Titans on the team with multiple goals scored.

Bryan Escalante, the reigning Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week, has a record of 3-1 with one shutout in five matches for the Titans. He is one of three goalkeepers that Cal State Fullerton has used this year and will likely get the start on Wednesday as the Titans look to move closer to a Big West Tournament berth. Escalante has allowed seven goals this season and has a 1.83 goals against average.

The Titans finish the season at home against UC Riverside on Saturday night.

A Closer Look at UC Irvine
Following the match against Cal State Fullerton, the Matadors will welcome UC Irvine to Matador Soccer Field on Saturday night. The six senior members of the CSUN squad will be honored in a pre-match ceremony as Michael Abalos, Joe Franco, Armando Gutierrez, Jose Luis Garcia, Yuval Barak and Rene Anguiano will all lace up for their final regular season home match.

UC Irvine enters the week at 4-13-1 and is in fourth place in the South Division with a mark of 1-7-0 and three points.

Cameron Iwasa is currently the team leader with six goals scored and 14 points on the season. He also has a pair of assists and has started every match this season for the Anteaters. Gor Kirakosyan is second with four goals, four assists and 12 points in 12 matches but did not play the last time these two sides met on October 20.

Michael Breslin has gotten the bulk of the minutes in net this season for UC Irvine and has a record of 4-12-1 with two shutouts. He has started and competed in all but one match and has a 1.72 goals against average. Breslin has allowed 30 goals on the year and has a save percentage of .722. UC Irvine will host UC Riverside on Wednesday before heading to Northridge.

Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors won an important road match at UC Riverside last week to clinch the Big West Conference's South Division and guarantee a home match for the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament on November 7. The Matadors are back in the postseason for the first time since 2009 and have a shot to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005.

The Matadors took a 2-1 decision at UC Riverside to sweep the season series with the Highlanders and are heading into the final week of the regular season. After the two sides played a scoreless first half, CSUN forward Edwin Rivas opened the scoring with a goal in the 49th minute off of assists from Rene Anguiano and David Turcios. Rivas dribbled to the top right side of the box and fired a shot into the left corner past the Riverside goalkeeper.

Rivas added his second goal of the match in the 67th minute. Carlos Benavides passed the ball to Turcios, who found Rivas in space. Rivas then beat the goalkeeper and slotted home the eventual game-winning goal into the open net.

UC Riverside got a goal back in the 88th minute after a CSUN defender was charged with an own goal following a corner kick. It was the fifth time in the last four matches that the Matadors had allowed either an own goal or a penalty kick. With the win, the Matadors clinched the South Division and will host the second-place finisher from the North Division on November 7 at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the Big West Tournament Final on November 10.

Gearing Up for the Postseason
With a 2-1 win at UC Riverside on October 27, the Matadors clinched the Big West South Division and are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Big West Tournament gets underway at campus sites on Wednesday, Nov. 7. As the South Champions, the Matadors will host a Big West Semifinal match that night. For the Matadors to host the Big West Tournament Final, the squad would need to win the Big West Semifinal and have the South's second-place team win on the road in the other semifinal. The Matadors are also looking to finish the season strong to build up their resume for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The NCAA selection show will be live streamed at NCAA.com on Monday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. PT. Full postseason coverage, including links for Big West and NCAA Tournament broadcasts, will be posted when they become available at GoMatadors.com.

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 27 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 68 matches in goal are second on the all-time list. This season, Abalos has an 11-5 record with five shutouts and a 1.05 goals against average.

Strike Force
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. Heading into the final stretch, Rivas has eight goals, three assists and 19 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. He netted a pair of goals to lead CSUN to a 2-1 win and helped clinch the Big West South Division at UC Riverside on October 27. For his career, Rivas now has 13 goals, three assist and 29 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 14th in the country with 12 goals scored. He also ties for the conference lead 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 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 eight assists and has a 0.47 assists per game average through 17 matches.

Welcome Home
Junior midfielder Beto Velasquez is a main cog of the Northridge offense and is third on the team with seven goals and 15 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. Rivas added another multi-point performance, scoring twice in a match for the first time in his career in a 2-1 win at UC Riverside (10/27).

Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
As the regular season enters its final week, 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 (64). He ranks among the leaders in points (3rd - 19), points per game (3rd - 1.19), goals (T-3rd - 8) and goals per game (3rd - 0.50). He also leads the league with 4.00 shots per game. Sagi Lev-Ari ranks first with 1.41 points per game and is third in the Big West with 54 shots taken. Lev-Ari is the league leader in points (24), goals (12) and goals per game (0.71). Beto Velasquez checks in tied for 10th in the conference with 31 shots. He is seventh with 15 points and is tied for fifth with seven goals. Carlos Benavides leads the Big West with eight assists and is first with 0.47 assists per game while Yuval Barak, Chris Smith and David Turcios are tied for fourth with five assists. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks fourth in the conference in goals against average (1.05), eighth in save percentage (.717) and eighth in saves per game (2.69). He ties for the league lead with 0.31 shutouts per game and five shutouts. His 43 saves are tied for sixth among all Big West goalkeepers. Stats are current as of October 29 and may not reflect changes in official scoring throughout the week.

Manufacturing Points
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field this season. In the team's matches to this point, 10 different players have scored a goal and 16 total Matadors have recorded at least one point. The team has put up 109 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, five midfielders and five defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with 24. Edwin Rivas (19), Beto Velasquez (15), Jose Luis Garcia (4), Brian Behrad (7), Joe Franco (3), David Turcios (6), Chris Smith (7), Rene Anguiano (3), and Armando Gutierrez (2) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (7), Yuval Barak (5), Carlos Gonzalez (1), Christian Gonzalez Diaz (2), Trevor Morley (1) and Yarden Azulay (1) have earned assists. Lev-Ari has scored a goal in nine matches this year and leads the team with 12 goals.

Poll Position
The Matadors are back in the national rankings for the first time since the 2009 season. After winning at UC Riverside last week, Northridge is currently ranked 21st by Soccer America, 27th by College Soccer News and 31st by Top Drawer Soccer. The Matadors are receiving votes in polls by Soccer Times and the NSCAA, the official poll recognized by the NCAA. In the NSCAA's regional rankings, the Matadors are currently fourth in the Far West, the highest of any Big West team this week. CSUN is also ranked 25th in the RPI.

You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Matadors are second in the Big West Conference in shots taken (290) and lead in goals scored (36), points (109), and goals per game (2.12). 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). Every Matador that has played in the field this season has recorded a shot and just under 40 percent of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded 186 total shots and 62 shots on goal, scoring 17 times. Northridge is 16th in the NCAA in goals per game.

Getting the Job Done
With just a week remaining in the regular season, the Matadors are looking to build on exciting finishes they have put up thus far. 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. On October 13, Northridge was able to score a golden goal in the 104th minute against UC Riverside to record the program's first home overtime win since 2009.

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. Noisemakers are only permitted at Big West matches and will not be allowed inside the venue during any potential NCAA Tournament match.

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 regular season home games with their CSUN I.D. For the Big West Tournament Semifinal on November 7, general admission tickets will be $10 while all student tickets are $5. All fans in attendance will need a ticket for admission.

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