Big West Games Against #8 UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara Up Next for Matador Men's Soccer

Oct. 19, 2010

Matador Men's Soccer Notes 

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Wednesday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. PT
Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-9-2, 1-3-1 Big West) vs. #8 UC Irvine (10-1-2, 3-0-1 Big West)
Matador Soccer Field - Northridge, Calif.
GameTracker available at

Saturday, October 23, 7:00 p.m. PT
Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-9-2, 1-3-1 Big West) at UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (8-3-2, 4-1-0 Big West)
Meredith Field at Harder Stadium - Santa Barbara, Calif.
GameTracker and live audio available at


NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - With exactly one-half of their Big West schedule remaining, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will face the eighth-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters at home this Wednesday before traveling tup the coast for their only match of the season against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos on Saturday. Both games will kick-off at 7:00 p.m.


With the Matadors starting the second half of their Big West Conference schedule, fans can follow all the action of both games this week on GameTracker, with live audio available for the game at Santa Barbara this Saturday. Visit and click on the `GT' logo located on the calendar section of the main page, or on the men's soccer schedule link to find the latest in-game information against both the UC Irvine Anteaters and UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.


In order to begin their climb up the Big West standings, the Cal State Northridge Matadors are going to need to earn points against teams that occupy one of the four potential playoff positions. This week will be a tremendous opportunity for Northridge to do just that when they face UC Irvine this Wednesday evening.

Currently in second place the #8 UC Irvine Anteaters will face CSUN for the first time this season, with the return match scheduled to take place on November 3rd. Undefeated in their last seven games, Irvine has only allowed four goals to their opponents all season. A daunting a statistic as that may seem, two of the three teams that did score a goal were able to earn points off the Anteaters, with the third team giving up the game-winning goal with less that two minutes left in regulation.

Irvine's 30-goal total is the sixth highest in the nation, trailing the 34 goals that Maryland has scored this season. A majority of starters from the 2009 season return in 2010 for head coach George Kuntz; with CSUN splitting both games played last season, including their match in Irvine by a score of 3-0, Northridge is fully capable of earning similar results this week as well as they are one of the few teams to possess winning records both at home, and on the road against UCI. 


Competing in their only game of the season agains their rivals from the coast, CSUN will look to avenge their loss suffered in the Big West Postseason Tournament against the Gauchos. With each team defeating the other on their respective home field during the regular season, CSUN fell to the Gauchos by a 2-1 score at Harder Stadium, ending the playoff run of last season's Matador squad.

Currently occupying the top spot in the Big West as of October 18th, UCSB will look to prevent CSUN from earning their first win in Santa Barbara in the last ten games, a streak that dates back to the 2001 season. Games between the two are always competitive; with each squad ranked near the top of the table in fouls in seasons past, expect another aggressive, yet fair contest this Saturday evening as five of the last six matches between the Matadors and Gauchos have been decided by a goal, or ended in a draw.

Twelve difference Gauchos have scored this season, a group that led by sophomore forward Sam Garza and his six goals scored. Four of goalkeeper Sam Hayden's five wins have been shutouts, a total that has been accrued with the help of the Gaucho backline as together the UCSB defensive unit has only allowed their opponents to score 11 goals in the 13 games played. 


Central coast soccer fans may focus their attention on the Cal Poly-UCSB match-ups, but the rivalry between CSUN and Santa Barbara is just as heated and competitive. Combining for eight of the last nine Big West regular season titles, either Northridge or Santa Barbara earned the Big West title from 2001-07. This rivalry has even extended into the postseason as well, including an NCAA second round match in 2005 and a Big West Tournament semifinal a year ago. Known for creating two highly competitive match-ups each season, the 2010 campaign will be the first since 2000 where these rivals will only square-off against each other once during the regular season.


Against Cal Poly on Oct. 6, junior midfielder Rafael Garcia not only scored the two CSUN goals to help them earn a point in the standings, but took a total of six shots that were all on goal. Since joining the Big West in 2001, no Matador had ever registered that many shots on goal in one game. On three occasions during his career at Northridge, Matador great Willie Sims recorded five shots on goal (September 10, 2004 vs. American, October 9, 2004 at UC Irvine, and September 17, 2005 vs. UNLV), as did current men's soccer assistant coach Yossi Raz in a home game against Denver on October 6, 2002. Prior to last Wednesday's game, both Sims and Raz help the team record for most shots on goal in one game before Garcia's eye-opening performance in San Luis Obispo took place.


Having recently completed a portion of their schedule that included eight out of nine games on the road, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will now face a home-heavy schedule of games from now until the end of the season. Starting with their match against UC Irvine, the Matadors will play four of their last six games at Matador Soccer Field.


The overtime match at Davis was the fourth time this season that CSUN needed extra time to secure a decision this season. Were it not for unfortunate goals scored with only 88 seconds left in the second overtime in their game at San Francisco and with under two minutes to play at UC Davis, CSUN would have earned points in all of their overtime games in 2010. Since joining the Big West in 2001, CSUN has played in 47 overtime games, and have failed to earn a point in only seven of those matches. The last time Northridge won a game in overtime took place in 2009 when CSUN scored the golden goal in overtime against the Cal State Fullerton Titans.


Led by freshman Sam Ball with three, seven different Matadors have found the back of the net in 2010, a list of names that includes three freshman - Ball, Gustavo Villalobos, and Alberto Rosas. Combined, the freshmen trio are responsible for 58 shots, 17 of which are on goal. With his assist against Cal State Fullerton last Wednesday, junior Rafael Garcia leads the team with eight points, four assists, and 19 shots on goal. His 33 shots rank second on the team behind Villalobos (35). In total, 19 of the 22 players who have competed in 2010 have registered at least one shot this season. 


With his two goals and an assist earned in CSUN's Big West opener at Cal State Fullerton, Gustavo Villalobos became just the second Matador in the last four seasons to score a goal and earn an assist in the same match. Prior to his five point effort against the Titans (two goals, one assist) former All-Big West midfielder Sunghyun Kim was the last Matador to accomplish the feat in CSUN's 3-0 season finale (and playoff clinching win) at UC Irvine last season.


Despite some tough outcomes early in the season, a number of Matadors are continuing to make their mark within the Big West and have found themselves ranked in the top ten in various statistical categories. Senior midfielder Rafael Garcia, who serves as a captain on the squad, is currently seventh in the conference for shots taken with 33. Redshirt freshman midfielder Gustavo Villalobos sits in a fifth place tie in shots per game with 2.69. With his assist earned against Fullerton, Garcia now leads the team with four and sits in a tie for fourth in the conference in that category. Freshman forward Sam Ball remained in the top ten in points per game with an average of 0.67 and is tied with Garcia with the same mark. After scoring against Air Force, Ball leaped to a tie for ninth in the conference in goals scored with three. Shutouts against Washington and Air Force have goalkeeper Michael Abalos tied for sixth with two, the sophomore `keeper leads a trio of Matador netminders who have carved a 1.52 goals against average, the sixth lowest total in the conference.


With two additional victories, head coach Terry Davila will become the fifth coach in Big West history to win 100 games as a member of the conference. Even though Davila enters the 2010 season with 110 career wins to his credit, the first 14 were earned as member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. In 2001 the Matadors switched conference affiliation from the MPSF to the Big West, since then Davila's teams have compiled a 98-60-32 overall record (.600 pct.). With his victory over Cal State Fullerton on October 2nd, Davila became just the third head coach to win 50 or more Big West Conference matches.


The Matadors are now 19-7-4 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 last time the Matadors tied a conference opening match was in 2007 at Cal State Fullerton, the same squad they defeated to open the Big West season in 2010. 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.


One of 17 newcomers to the squad this year, freshman forward Sam Ball is making quite an impression within the Big West this season. Leading CSUN with three goals scored - an impressive feat as he has taken only 12 shots and has capitalized on three out of five shots taken on goal.  Ball is currently sixth in the conference with an average of 0.33 goals per game. Gustavo Villalobos is also making a name for himself amongst the Matador faithful as the redshirt freshman had a career day with two goals and an assist en route to a five point performance at Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 2. His five points were the most recorded in a game for the Matadors since Willie Sims tallied six with three goals against UNLV on September 17, 2005.. He is also the first freshman to score multiple goals in a game since teammate Camilo Rojas did it against Detroit (August 31, 2007) three seasons ago. 


Since relocating from North Campus Stadium to their current facility before the start of the 2002 season, Matador Soccer Field has presented a strong advantage for the Matadors. In the 74 games played on-campus, CSUN possesses an overwhelming 50-17-8 record at home for a .720 winning percentage on their home turf.


With their 4-0 win over Air Force in late September, and 3-0 win at Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 2, the Cal State Northridge Matadors scored three or more goals in consecutive games for the first time since the 2008 season when Northridge put three in the back of the net in consecutive road games at UC Riverside (11/1/08) and Cal State Fullerton (11/5/08).


One indication of the success sophomore goalkeeper Michael Abalos earned last season can be seen in the Matador record books as the San Juan Capistrano native earned a spot on four different lists with his numbers earned during his freshman season at Northridge. Abalos now shares eighth place with Zoltan Nagy (1995) and Mike Littman (1989) with his nine career victories, is fifth all-time with his 1.17 career goals against average, and is now tied for seventh all-time with Mike Caputo (1985-87) with his seven career shutouts. His five clean sheets earned in 2009 is also the seventh-highest number of shutouts earned in a season, tying him with Joe Barton (2001) and Mike Littman (1989) and their respective single-season performances.


Known for creating a tough schedule year after year, the Matador coaching staff have pieced together one of the most challenging schedules ever in an attempt to prepare the team for the challenges and rigors faced during conference play. Almost one-third of the games scheduled in 2010 will be against teams that were ranked in the top-25 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America in 2009. The list of opponents includes CSUN's season-opening game vs. San Diego (9/1), last season's College Cup runners-up Akron (9/17), San Francisco (9/24), cross-town rival UCLA (10/27), UC Santa Barbara (10/23), and UC Irvine (10/20).


The 2010 Cal State Northridge men's soccer team received 27 points and were picked to finish fourth in the 2010 Big West Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches poll as announced by the league office in mid-August. Northridge was narrowly edged out by Cal Poly as the Mustangs earned 28 points to claim third place by a slim one point margin. Finishing in second place with 43 total points and one first place vote was UC Irvine, with UC Santa Barbara leading the way with 48 points and six first place votes. Cal State Fullerton's 22 points were enough to secure fifth place, with UC Davis and UC Riverside rounding out the poll in sixth and seventh place respectively with 17 and 11 points. This is the third straight season that Northridge was predicted to finish in fourth place; last season CSUN received 32 overall and one first place point en route to a 10-8-2 overall record, clinching a spot in the 2009 Big West Men's Soccer Postseason Tournament.


Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $5, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $3. 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.