NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The No. 4 Cal State Northridge Matadors return to Matador Soccer Field this weekend for a pair of Big West contests against two of the top teams in the league. The Matadors begin the week with a clash on Friday night against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos before returning two days later to take on the Cal Poly Mustangs on Sunday evening.
The match against UCSB will be a Red Rally event while the meeting with the Mustangs is Breast Cancer Awareness Day and a CSUN Soccer Doubleheader with the women's program playing at 4 p.m. Northridge swept its road trip last week against Sacramento State and UC Davis and has earned shutouts in its last three contests, all on the road. The Matadors enter the week at 2-0 in the Big West and have an excellent opportunity to distance themselves from the rest of the South Division before divisional play kicks off next week. Both matches this weekend at Matador Soccer Field will feature live stats coverage and a free Internet-only radio broadcast available on GoMatadors.com and through the CSUN Front Row app.
#4 Cal State Northridge (10-1, 2-0 Big West) vs. UC Santa Barbara (7-4, 2-0 Big West)
Friday, Oct. 11 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats and Audio: Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page
#4 Cal State Northridge vs. Cal Poly (8-4, 1-1 Big West)
Sunday, Oct. 6 - 3 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats and Audio: Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page
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.
Adding their Names to the Record Book
With the conference schedule underway, the Cal State Northridge Matadors have already accomplished a feat that the school hadn't seen since most of the players' parents were in college. CSUN opened the season with a string of seven consecutive victories for the first, and only, time since the 1979 season. In the process, the Matadors rose through the national rankings and were the third-ranked team in Division I. The ranking marked the first time that Cal State Northridge entered the Top 5 in the school's Division I history. In addition. the Matadors defeated eight non-conference opponents for the first time in the school's DI history.
A Closer Look at UC Santa Barbara
The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos enter the week with a 7-4-0 record after defeating Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside in Big West matches last week. The Gauchos have won their last three without conceding a goal and are currently leading the Big West North Division with six points. UC Santa Barbara has outscored opponents 16-9 in 11 matches this season. The last time these two sides met, the Matadors took a 1-0 decision over then-No. 4 UCSB at Harder Stadium last October.
Achille Campion ties for the lead on the team with four goals scored but is the leader with 10 points overall. Goffin Boyoko also has four goals and has added one assist for nine points thus far. Ismaila Jome leads the Gauchos with five assists and has seven points while Drew Murphy has four assists and four points of his own.
Goalkeeper Josh McNeely has seen the most minutes in net for UCSB this season and is the reigning Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording two shutouts at home. McNeely is 6-3-0 for UCSB and has received credit for four shutouts. He has also made 26 saves and has compiled a 0.65 goals against average.
The three-match winning streak is the longest this season for UCSB. The Gauchos are 2-1 away from Harder Stadium this season and have not played a road match since a 1-0 loss at then-No. 14 UCLA on September 13th.
A Closer Look at Cal Poly
Following the match against UCSB on Friday, the Matadors will welcome in the Cal Poly Mustangs on Sunday evening. The Mustangs are currently tied for second on points in the Big West North Division after splitting matches against UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton last week. The Mustangs play a road match at UC Irvine on Friday night before playing against the Matadors on Sunday.
Mackenzie Pridham leads Cal Poly and the Big West Conference with nine goals and 20 points. Chase Minter is tied with CSUN's Beto Velasquez at the top of the league with six assists. Overall, 12 different Mustangs have recorded at least one point and four have scored in double digits. Coming into the week, Cal Poly leads the nation in goals scored and points while the Matadors rank second in both categories. Although they enter with one of the top offenses in the country, the Mustangs have not scored a goal against CSUN since 2010.
Goalkeeper Wade Hamilton has played every minute in net for the Mustangs this season and has an 8-4-0 record with a pair of shutouts. He has made 36 saves so far this season and has a 1.30 goals against average. As a team, the Mustangs have outscored the opposition 32-16 and are allowing 10.8 shots on average to their opponents. After taking on CSUN, the Mustangs will stay on the road to face Sacramento State.
I'm Not a Machine, I'm Just Brian
Senior forward Brian Behrad may not literally be a machine, but he has had a role in over a quarter of CSUN's goal output so far this season. Through 11 matches, Behrad is second on the team with six goals and also has two assists. He scored both goals in the Matadors' 2-1 come-from-behind win over Saint Mary's, including a header with six seconds left in the first overtime to help CSUN to its fourth-straight win. For his work against San Diego and Saint Mary's (three goals, two game winners), Behrad was named the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week and earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week. Against then-No. 9 New Mexico, Behrad created a goal for himself by stealing the ball at midfield and outrunning the Lobo defense before beating the goalkeeper and he had the game-winning goal at UC Davis.
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. Against Central Arkansas he sealed the victory with his first goal of the season, a strike in the 84th minute. He is currently second on the team with 34 shots and is also among the team leaders with 13 shots on goal. He scored a goal at both Sacramento State and UC Davis as well. For his career, Rivas now has 16 goals, six assists and 38 points.
Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi 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. At the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational, he scored twice against Central Arkansas and added a goal and an assist in CSUN's historic win over New Mexico. He was named to the CSN National Team of the Week again for his work. He added a pair of assists at Sacramento State. His eight goals this season are second in the Big West. Lev-Ari now has 23 goals and 49 points in 33 career matches for Northridge.
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to climb the all-time leaderboard in assists. 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. He also had the game-winning assist in the win at New Mexico. 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 10th in both Northridge Soccer and Big West Conference history with 20 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 (6). 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. Velasquez scored a goal in back-to-back matches after striking against both UNLV and then-No. 11 UCLA. He added an assist in wins over San Diego and Saint Mary's as well. At Bradley, Velasquez earned a game-winning assist for a chip to Tanner Snedigar that was headed home in the 89th minute. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has 11 goals, seven assists and 29 points.
You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense 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. He also was named the Defensive MVP at the Lobo Invitational as the Matadors topped Central Arkansas and then-No. 9 New Mexico. For his work in Albuquerque, Morley earned a spot on TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Team of the Week.
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. Behrad headed home a pair of goals to pick up four points in CSUN's 2-1 overtime win over Saint Mary's, while Lev-Ari had two goals against Central Arkansas and a goal and an assist at New Mexico.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
In the sixth 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 second-most shots (172) so far and have tallied the second-most points (92). Through nine matches, Northridge's 28 goals and its 2.55 goals per game average are second in the league. The Matadors are the nation's leaders in assists (36) and assists per game (3.27). Defensively, CSUN is tied for third in the Big West with 11 goals allowed is fourth with a 0.99 goals against average.
Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 36 shots and is second with 3.27 shots per game and 19 points. He is also second in the conference with eight goals while teammate Brian Behrad is third with six. Edwin Rivas is third with 34 shots and Behrad is third in the league with 14 points. Beto Velasquez is tied for the lead in the conference with six assists and is sixth with 12 points while Chris Smith, Steven Manios and Yarden Azulay tie for fifth in assists (4). Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks third in the conference with a 0.96 goals against average and is fourth with a .756 save percentage. Stats include matches through October 6, 2013.
Cal State Northridge continues to cement its place in Top 25 polls after going 10-1-0 and starting the year with seven wins for only the second time in school history (1979). This week, the Matadors are ranked 4th by the NSCAA, 4th by Soccer Times, 4th by College Soccer News, 6th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and 6th by Soccer America after going 2-0 last week. CSUN is ranked as the third-best team in the NSCAA's Far West Region, the highest of any Big West team this week, and is 10th in the NCAA RPI. 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 month 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. Fourteen different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Sagi Lev-Ari with 19. Brian Behrad is second on the team with 14. Chris Smith (10) and Yarden Azulay (8) also find themselves on the scoresheet. Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points while Beto Velasquez leads the team with six assists and has three goals for 12 points. Edwin Rivas (8), Steven Manios (4), David Turcios (5), Carlos Benavides (2), Juan Samayoa (2), Mynor Giron (3), Tanner Snedigar (2) and Trevor Morley (1) round out the list of point scorers for Northridge.
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 22-7-4 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 10-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the Sacramento State Hornets 3-0 on Oct. 4, 2013. 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.
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 both the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament to open the season and the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational. 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 next week, the Matadors competed in the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitaitonal hosted by the University of New Mexico. Northridge squared 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.
Getting the Job Done
Since going 3-14-2 in the 2010 season, the Matadors have rebuilt the program and in turn have come away with impressive results along the way. In 2011, Northridge earned wins over No. 19 Cal State Fullerton and No. 7 UCLA while finishing 8-8-3. Last season, the team was impressive offensively in a pair of 5-0 victories at home against Army (9/14) and at San Diego (9/20). Prior to 2012, 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. The team then defeated Cal Poly 2-0 in the Big West Semifinals and outlasted UC Davis 1-0 in the Final to capture the program's first Big West Tournament Championship in history. Already this year, the team is off to an 10-1 start for just the second time in history and was able to exercise their demons by upsetting then-No. 9 New Mexico in Albuquerque for the first time ever.