Northridge Takes on First-Place Long Beach State Friday Night

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Matadors Host 49ers with Conference Lead at Stake

Matadors Host 49ers with League Lead at StakeThe Cal State Northridge women's soccer team (4-7-2, 2-1-1 Big West) has just one game on the schedule for the upcoming week, but it is a pivotal one as CSUN hosts No. 22 Long Beach State Friday night at Matador Soccer Field with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.

Last week, the Matadors split a pair of league home contests. On Oct. 7, the Matadors saw their six-match winning streak at home during conference play snapped as Cal Poly posted a 2-0 victory. Two days later, the Matadors rebounded by posting a 1-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara, recording a win over the Gauchos for just the second time since the 2001 season. 

Now the Matadors must set their sights on league-leading Long Beach State, who carries a six-match winning streak and a national ranking into Friday night's meeting. The 49ers nearly saw that streak end, but they scored a goal in the final 15 seconds to draw even with Cal State Fullerton. In overtime, the 49ers' Nadia Link continued her impressive campaign by tallying her league-leading 12th goal of the season to give LBSU a 2-1 victory. 

The league leader in goals and points (31), Link has 46 shots on the season, putting 25 on frame and leads the conference with four game-winning goals. Joining Link as a formidable offensive threat for Long Beach State is senior midfielder Shawna Gordon, who has seven goals and a league-leading nine assists for 23 points on the season. Finally, Nicole Sweetman, a transfer from UCLA, has seven goals and two assists on the season. As a team, LBSU has outscored its opponents, 36-13, this season. 

On defense, senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gustaves earned Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors after making a career-high nine saves in the 49ers' victory over Cal State Fullerton. For the season, she has played all 1,286 minutes in net and sports a 0.91 goals-against-average, 44 saves and a .772 save percentage. 

Long Beach State leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge, 8-5-1. The two teams met twice last year in Long Beach with the 49ers' posting a pair of 2-1 victories, including a win in the Big West Conference semifinals. The last time Northridge hosted LBSU, the Matadors recorded a 1-0 victory on a goal by Heidi Farran in the 11th minute. 

Next week, CSUN splits its time on the road and at home in its two contests. The Matadors travel to Orange County on Thursday, Oct. 20 to face Cal State Fullerton, and then host UC Irvine on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field. 

Cruz Control

Junior Nicole Cruz scored the match's only goal in Northridge's 1-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara for her second goal of the season and of her career.  So far in 2011, Cruz has made a triumphant return to the pitch. After sitting out the 2010 season, Cruz had not appeared in any matches until being called upon as a substitute in the first half against LMU. She found the back of the net by sliding home a loose ball off a corner kick to give Northridge a 2-0 lead at the time. For the year, Cruz has seven shots.

Sister Act

Sophomore Amanda Smith recorded her third assist of the season in the Matadors' victory over UC Santa Barbara. From her right midfield position, Smith cut to her left foot and delivered a cross that Nicole Cruz slotted into the far post. Smith is now tied for the team lead in assists with Melissa Fernandez and also had helpers in wins against Princeton and UC Davis. For her career, Smith now has five assists. Her sister is No. 23 Amilee Smith, a freshman midfielder.  

Jacobo & Myers 

Junior Cynthia Jacobo made five saves to post her second shutout of the season and help the Matadors to their first victory over UC Santa Barbara since 2007. Jacobo was also named Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 3 as she helped lead the Matadors to four important road points to start league play. Against Pacific, she made a season-high seven saves as CSUN rallied for a 1-1 draw and earned its first point in Stockton since the 2003 season. Two days later, she made four saves as the Matadors defeated UC Davis 3-1. For her career, Jacobo ranks second in school history with 20 wins, second with 14 career shutouts and fourth with 154 career saves. She has earned All-Big West Second Team honors following each of the last two seasons and was Big West Freshman of the Year in 2009. Jacobo appears to save her best for the conference portion of the schedule, carrying a 12-4-1 (.735) record with 10 shutouts against league opposition in the regular season. 

We Interrupt this Jets-Raiders Game...

Senior Heidi Farran scored twice over the Matadors' opening weekend of Big West Conference play. Against Pacific, Farran scored the game-tying goal in the 83rd minute to help Northridge earn its first point in Stockton since the 2003 season. Two days later, Farran calmly converted a penalty kick in the 17th minute for her fifth goal of the season. For the year, she leads the team in goals and points (12) and is tied for ninth in points and eighth in goals among all Big West players. The two goals raised her career total to 10, tying her for the eighth-most in school history. In CSUN's victory over Princeton, Farran scored goals in the fifth and 21st minutes. The multi-goal performance was the first by a Northridge player since the 2006 season. 

Fernandez Finds Finishing Form

Junior Melissa Fernandez picked up her career-high third goal of the season in the Matadors' victory at UC Davis. In the 13th minute of action, she headed home a cross from Amanda Smith. For the season, Fernandez has a career-high nine points on the three goals and three assists. She now has nine career assists, tied with four former Matadors for eighth in school history.  She leads the team with 38 shots, a total that ranks fifth in the Big West Conference. Fernandez added a goal and an assist in the Matadors' 3-0 victory at LMU, her first career three-point performance. 

We Need a Yuki-Hiro

Junior Jessa Yukihiro scored her first goal as a Matador in CSUN's 3-1 victory at UC Davis. After picking up the ball on a breakaway, Yukihiro was tackled from behind, resulting in two red cards for the Aggies and a free kick from roughly 20 yards clear of the frame. She then ripped the ball into the upper left corner of the net. For the year, Yukihiro has four shots on goal.

Brie All That You Can Brie

Senior Brielle Slepicoff had a goal and an assist in the Matadors' victory over Princeton. She provided the game-winning assist on Heidi Farran's goal in the 21st minute and then worked a nifty give-and-go with Amanda Smith in the second half to record her third career goal. One of the team's fastest players, Slepicoff earned All-Big West First Team and NSCAA All-West Region Second Team honors for her work on the defensive back line in 2010. She was also recognized for her work in the classroom, receiving NSCAA Academic All-West Region First Team honors as a biology major.

Russ to the Rescue

Junior Katie Russ scored her first goal of the season and second of her career in the Matadors' victory at LMU. She collected a loose ball off a Melissa Fernandez free kick and blasted it into the far post. One of CSUN's most reliable defenders, Russ has started 12 of 13 matches for the Matadors at center back and is one of the team's top free kick specialists.  

Lending a Helping Hand

Junior Stephanie Norton picked up her second assist of the season on Nicole Cruz's goal in the victory at LMU and had her first career assist at Texas. Senior Alexis Barbara also has two assists in 2011, picking up a helper on Melissa Fernandez's goal at LMU and adding the second of her career in the Matadors' draw with Purdue. Against Princeton, junior Marisa Miller recorded her second career helper on Heidi Farran's first goal. 

Finally, a Tie (or Two)

The Matadors' 2-2 draw with Purdue on Sept. 9 was CSUN's first double-overtime tie with an opponent since a scoreless affair at UC Irvine on Oct. 23, 2008, a span of 49 matches. Now, CSUN has two draws in the 2011 season after a 1-1 tie at Pacific in both team's conference opener. In fact, the Matadors have only reached overtime on five occasions since the start of the 2009 campaign and are 1-2-2 in those games. The Matadors went the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons without a draw. That is fewest draws among all Big West teams since the start of the 2009 season.

Good Things Come in Twos and Threes

The Matadors have put together quite a record when they score two goals, posting a 21-1-1 mark in those contests since the start of the 2008 season. That record includes CSUN's 3-1 victory at UC Davis and 3-0 victory at LMU on Sept. 23, the program's first-ever victory at the home of the Lions. The only blemishes on the record are a 3-2 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 4, 2009 and a 2-2 draw with Purdue at the Boilermaker Challenge during the 2011 campaign. In fact, under Coach West, the Matadors are a perfect 14-0 when they score at least three goals in a match. Northridge's cumulative score in those 14 contests is 51-13. CSUN's last loss when scoring at least three goals came at UC Davis on October 16, 2005, when current Northridge men's soccer head coach Terry Davila was in charge of both programs. 

CSUN Shines in Shootout

The Matadors got to participate in an exhibition shootout in their time at the Boilermaker Challenge. After managing a 2-2 draw with Purdue, the nature of the tournament stipulated that a winner be decided to see whom would advance to the championship match of the competition. In the event, Shannon Ward, Heidi Farran and Katie Russ all found the back of the net and Cynthia Jacobo made two saves to send the Matadors through, where they eventually lost 1-0 to Dayton. NCAA soccer does not start using shootouts to break ties until postseason tournaments and even then, if a game were to be decided by a penalty kick shootout, the game is still scored as a draw for both sides. 

San Diego Match Cancelled

The Cal State Northridge women's soccer match against San Diego on October 16 has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled in the 2011 season. 

Ticket Information

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.

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

Since the start of the 2009 season, Northridge has played in 33 matches, out of a total of 52 (64%), that were decided by one goal, owning a 17-16 (.515) mark in those contests. In fact, 23 (44% of all games played since 2009) have been 1-0 affairs in which CSUN owns a 13-10 (.565) mark. However, Northridge has lost six of its last eight games that finished 1-0, though CSUN snapped a four-match losing streak in such affairs with its win over UC Santa Barbara. Among Big West schools, the 23 1-0 contests are three more than the next squad, UC Riverside, while UC Irvine has played in a league-low 12 such results.