NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After coming off of two victories in the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament last weekend, the No. 25 Cal State Northridge Matadors are poised to continue their hot start against a pair of West Coast Conference opponents at Matador Soccer Field. The Matadors outscored Albany and Memphis by six goals at home last weekend but will have to shift focus to exacting revenge on an all-too-familiar foe: San Diego. The Toreros knocked Cal State Northridge out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round last year, scoring a goal in the dying minutes of double overtime in the rain. The Battle of the Bullfighters will be renewed on Friday, Sept. 6 with a 5 p.m. kickoff. The match is part of a CSUN Soccer Doubleheader and the Northridge Women's program will face Houston following the game. Then on Sunday, Sept. 8, Cal State Northridge will take on the Saint Mary's College Gaels at 4 p.m., also at Matador Soccer Field.
San Diego (0-1) at #25 Cal State Northridge (2-0)
Friday, Sept. 6 - 5:00 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Links Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Saint Mary's College (2-0) at #25 Cal State Northridge (2-0)
Sunday, Sept. 8 - 4 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected contests will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road games, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the men's soccer schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) and the soccer-specific feed (@CSUNMensSoccer) for updates of games in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
Take Your Seat in the Front Row
Fans can now follow all of the action for Cal State Northridge's 18 varsity sports right from their phone or tablet! CSUN Front Row, the official mobile app of Cal State Northridge Athletics, is available for free for your iOS and Android devices. You can also access live stats coverage of a majority of CSUN home events, as well as audio and video links when available. For more information, search for CSUN Front Row on the App Store or Google Play or visit GoMatadors.com/frontrow.
Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament Recap
Cal State Northridge was impressive in its two matches during the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. Hosting Albany on Friday, the Matadors scored three goals in the second half to open the season with a victory. Pol Schonhofer Bartra, Brian Behrad and Chris Smith all found the back of the net while Behrad, Beto Velasquez and Trevor Morley tallied assists in the match. The Matadors outshot the Great Danes 22-4 on the night and scored all three goals within nine minutes of play to secure the win.
On Sunday, Northridge hosted Memphis for the tournament championship and came away with a 4-1 win. After Memphis scored a goal in the 13th minute, the Matadors rattled off the next four to claim the title. Sagi Lev-Ari scored a hat trick for CSUN, the first for Northridge since 2005. CSUN took a 2-1 lead on his second goal, which came on a man advantage. Following another Memphis red card, Lev-Ari capped off his hat trick and Yarden Azulay added a goal of his own to the scoresheet.
A Closer Look at San Diego
The University of San Diego Toreros enter the week at 0-1 after dropping a 5-0 decision at San Diego State last Friday. Last seaon, USD advanced to the Quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament after defeating Cal State Northridge, UCLA and Tulsa in the postseason.
With just one match played in the 2013 season, there is not much to come by in terms of stats for the Toreros. USD was shutout by the Aztecs over the weekend and took eight shots, three of which were on target. Connor Brandt was the lone Torero with multiple shots registered. San Diego conceded two penalty kick attempts, one of which was converted, and was issued a pair of yellow cards in the contest.
Goalkeeper Drew Ilijevski started the match for USD and saw just over 72 minutes of action before being replaced by Michael D'Arrigo. Ilijevski allowed five goals in the match but did get credit for four saves. D'Arrigo did not allow a goal in just over 17 minutes and has a pair of saves on the season.
Following the match against the Matadors on Friday, the Toreros will play their home opener on Sunday against Cal State Fullerton.
A Closer Look at Saint Mary's
The Saint Mary's College Gaels are 2-0 on the young season after winning a pair of matches at home last weekend. The Gaels opened the year with a 3-1 victory over Air Force and followed it up with a 2-0 shutout over LIU Brooklyn on Sunday. Saint Mary's does not have a match before heading to Northridge to face the Matadors this Sunday.
Carlo Eikani leads the Gaels in scoring with two goals and four points. For his work, Eikani was named the West Coast Conference Men's Soccer Player of the Week. Will Kendall, Bobby Conner, and Ever De La Torre are each responsible for a goal of their own. Both Rafael Sanchez and Jake Stenberg recorded a pair of assists last weekend and lead the team in that category.
Andre Rawls has played all 180 minutes in goal for Saint Mary's and is 2-0 with one shutout. He has made seven saves in two matches and has allowed just one goal for a 0.50 goals against average.
Following the match with the Matadors, the Gaels will face both UC Davis and Sacramento State at home next week.
Redshirt junior Edwin Rivas started off the season by helping the Matadors win the championship at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. In the title game against Memphis on September 1st, Rivas' cross found Sagi Lev-Ari for a goal that tied the match at 1-1. He is currently second on the team with eight shots and is also among the team leaders with three shots on goal. For his career, Rivas now has 13 goals, five assists and 31 points.
Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari is on a tear at the beginning of the 2013 campaign. Lev-Ari became the first Matador to record a hat trick since Willie Sims in 2005 when he netted three goals on September 1st against Memphis. For his work over the opening weekend, he was named to the National Team of the Week by both TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News. His three goals this season tie for the lead in the Big West through two matches. Lev-Ari now has 18 goals and 36 points in 24 career matches for Northridge.
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides is on his way to becoming the Big West leader in assists for the third straight year. In the Matadors' 4-1 win over Memphis on September 1st, Benavides picked up a game-winning assist on the goal that put Northridge ahead 2-1. During the preseason, Benavides was ranked 38th in Top Drawer Soccer's annual list of the Top 100 Men's College Soccer players. For his career, Benavides currently ranks tied for 10th in Northridge Soccer history with 19 assists.
The Valley's Own
Senior midfielder Beto Velasquez was dynamic in CSUN's two victories during the opening weekend. He recorded two assists against Albany on August 30th and currently leads the team in that category. A wing player for the Matadors, Velasquez was able to wear down the defense to help create chances for his teammates in front of goal. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has eight goals, three assists and 19 points.
You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense this season. One of the top freshman in the conference a year ago, Morley is looking to lead the Matadors to another championship this season. During the opening weekend of the season, Morley helped the Matadors record a shutout over Albany and a convincing win over Memphis. He had an assist against the Great Danes and was named to the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament's Best XI team. For his career, Morley has helped the Matadors to 11 shutouts and has two points.
One Plus One is Three Or Four
Senior forward Brian Behrad was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he did so in the first match of the season against Albany. In the 68th minute, Behrad received a cross from the right side and bounced a header in over the goalkeeper's head. Just over a minute later, he created a turnover in the midfield and had a breakaway at goal. His initial shot was deflected by the goalkeeper to teammate Chris Smith, who slotted home a shot into the empty net. Sagi Lev-Ari was the first with a multi-goal game when he scored a hat trick against Memphis two days later.
Matadors In The Big West Top Ten
In the first Big West statistical standings release of the season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank at or near the top of numerous categories as a team and individually. The Matadors have fired off the most shots (44) so far and have also tallied the most points (24). Through two matches, Northridge's seven goals are the most in the conference and its 3.50 goals per game average is tops in the league as well. The Matadors are also the leaders in assists (10) and assists per game (5.00). Defensively, CSUN is tied for third with one goal allowed and a 0.50 goals against average.
Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 11 shots, 5.50 shots per game, three goals and six points. He also ranks first with 3.00 points per game and 1.50 goals per game. Edwin Rivas is tied for fourth with eight shots and Brian Behrad is tied for eighth with six shots. Behrad, Chris Smith and Yarden Azulay all tie for sixth with three points on the year. Beto Velasquez ties for the lead in the conference with two assists while eight other Matadors check in at fourth with one helper. Velasquez's 1.00 assists per game average also ties him for first in the Big West. Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks fourth in the conference with a 0.60 goals against average and is tied for fifth with a .750 save percentage.
Cal State Northridge is back in the Top 25 after going 2-0 to start the season. The Matadors are currently ranked 22nd by Soccer America and 25th by the NSCAA after receiving votes in preseason media polls. CSUN is ranked as the third-best team in the NSCAA's Far West Region, the highest ranking for any Big West team this week. The team was also picked to repeat as champions of the Big West South Division in a preseason poll of head coaches in the conference. Northridge, which won the regular season crown and the Big West Tournament title,received six first-place votes in the poll and 30 points overall. UC Irvine was picked second, followed by Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside in the division. In the North, the coaches tabbed UC Santa Barbara as favorites with five first-place votes. The Gauchos were followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly and Sacramento State.
Through the first week of the season, the Matadors have started racking up points on the offensive side of the game. Across the first two matches against Albany and Memphis, Cal State Northridge scored seven goals and tallied 10 assists while holding the opposition to just one goal and one assist. Eleven different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Sagi Lev-Ari with six. Brian Behrad, Chris Smith and Yarden Azulay all have three points after recording a goal and an assist at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points while Beto Velasquez leads the team with two assists and also has two points. Edwin Rivas, Steven Manios, Carlos Benavides, Trevor Morley and Mynor Giron round out the list of point scorers for Northridge as all have an assist on the season.
Quick Out of the Gates
Northridge is 23-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past three. Northridge took a 3-0 decision against Albany to open this season, cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic, and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. Northridge started the year 2-0 for the second time since the 2005 campaign and second year in a row. Both the 2005 and 2012 Matadors earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 27-9 in home openers after a win over Albany on August 30. 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.
Welcome To The Family
Cal Sate Northridge has a lot of new faces in the program this season as the Matadors hope to repeat in the Big West. Eleven new additions join five redshirt freshmen as players hoping to make their mark on the field this year. Northridge, which saw the graduation of three starting defenders and its starting goalkeeper, has recruited in a number of prospects that give the coaching staff multiple options all over the field. In all, CSUN has three first-year goalkeepers, nine new players that can line up on defense and four that can step in as midfielders or forwards. The Matadors also return their top seven point recorders from a year ago, including the top four in goals scored.
Redefining The "Matador Defense"
The Cal State Northridge Matadors don't just let anyone compete on the team. A major requirement for each player is the ability to play a tough and aggressive style of defense at every position. In addition to the top defensive player in the Big West Conference last season, the Matadors also lost the league's top goalkeeper and two other defensive starters to graduation. However, the Matadors have not lost a step and are showing that they are still a dominate force on both sides of the ball. Sophomore center back Trevor Morley was named the Defensive MVP at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament to open the season. Forward Brian Behrad forced multiple turnovers in the midfield and sprung a run that led to a goal for Chris Smith against Albany in the season opener. In total, the Matadors held their opponents to just one goal on a combined 16 shots through the first two games of the year. The team conceded only five corner kicks and five shots on goal while posting a shutout and outscoring the opposition by six goals. In addition to playing stout defense, Morley was credited with an assist against Albany on a goal scored by fellow center back Pol Schonhofer Bartra.
We Must Protect This House
The Matadors have a healthy dose of home matches on the schedule this season, which should help the team make a run toward the postseason. Northridge plays just three matches away from Matador Soccer Field before the start of Big West play in October. In addition to a road match at Bradley, the Matadors will compete in the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitaitonal hosted by the University of New Mexico. Northridge will square off against Central Arkansas in a neutral-site match before battling the UNM Lobos to conclude the tournament. Overall. CSUN will play seven true road matches and one at a neutral site out of the 19 matches on the ledger this season. Last season, Northridge went 7-3 in home 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! 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.