NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Cal State Northridge head coach Terry Davila earned the 150th win of his illustrious career as the Matadors (14-5-1) defeated the Cal Poly Mustangs (10-9-2) 4-1 in a Big West Conference Tournament First Round match on Tuesday night at Matador Soccer Field. Sagi Lev-Ari scored two goals and Brian Behrad added a goal and an assist as the Matadors advance to play the No. 10 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the semifinal round on Friday, Nov. 15 at Harder Stadium.
"I didn't know 150 was coming up; we're just focusing on the playoffs and continuing to win," said Davila. "I'm just honored to coach at the University that I went to, that my father went to and that all of my brothers went to. To have 150 wins is exciting and I'm looking forward to 150 more."
Lev-Ari wasted little time in opening the scoring, as he punched home a cross from Edwin Rivas into the open net just 37 seconds after the start of the match. David Turcios started the play with a long ball up to Rivas on the left side, whose cross on the ground beat goalkeeper Wade Hamilton before Lev-Ari's touch finished the run.
"We came out very strong and that gave us the early advantage," said Lev-Ari. "I wouldn't have made the play if Edwin didn't play me a perfect ball, and I'm happy he did."
Lev-Ari, a 2013 All-Big West First Team honoree, has now scored in every match he's played against Cal Poly and has twice scored in the opening minute versus the Mustangs.
The Mustangs tied the match briefly in the 32nd minute after Kip Colvey slotted home his first of the season. John Chonopoulos played a pass to Colvey at the top left side of the box before the defender curled his shot into the left side of the goal.
With less than a minute remaining before halftime the Matadors were able to regain the lead thanks to the work of Behrad. The senior ran down a loose ball in the Cal Poly box and was fouled, setting up a penalty kick. He then cooly stepped to the spot and buried his shot into the left corner of the net for his seventh goal of the year.
"Our midfielders are amazing and they played their 'A' game tonight," said Behrad of the run up to the goals for CSUN. "When they play their 'A' game we all do. We had a solid Northridge team win tonight."
In the 62nd minute Lev-Ari struck again, this time after going one-on-one with Hamilton. Lev-Ari timed his run perfectly and received a pass from Mynor Giron before shooting to Hamilton's right and into the back of the net to put CSUN ahead 3-1.
"You've got to be able to play on both sides of the ball, and that's what we talked about all week," said Davila. "Cal Poly doesn't give you a break because they are very good technically and know how to attack well, but we are out there to score goals, too."
Nicolas Camacho added one for good measure in the 71st minute to seal the victory for the Matadors. After Chris Smith's through ball was deflected by a defender it found Behrad alone in front of goal. While Behrad's initial shot was saved by Hamilton, Camacho was there to collect and finish for the first goal of his collegiate career.
"Nico came off the bench after not playing the last two games and didn't complain once," added Davila. "As a freshman he scored the fourth goal and it was awesome for him. I'm so happy for him and the team is excited for him."
Northridge goalkeeper Adam Hobbs recorded five saves in net and picked up his 13th win of the season. Overall, the Mustangs took more shots (16-15) but the Matadors had a healthy cushion with 12 shots on goal to Cal Poly's six. The four goals scored by CSUN tied the Big West Conference Tournament record for goals in a match.
The Matadors will now travel north to No. 10 UC Santa Barbara on Friday night to battle the Gauchos, winners of the Big West Conference's North Division. The Gauchos finished the conference season 7-0-3 to become the first team in league history to go unbeaten. Kickoff from Harder Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.