August 18, 2010

Matadors Open 2010 Season at UC Santa Barbara, Host No. 5 Portland under the Lights

Aug. 18, 2010

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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Northridge to Face Familiar Foe before Challenging Perennially Powerful Pilots

The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team embarks on its 16th season of Division I play with a pair of games on opening weekend sure to test the merit and quality of the Matadors. First up is a non-conference meeting with Big West rival UC Santa Barbara, the first of two meetings with the Gauchos in Santa Barbara this season. Two days later, the Matadors will reintroduce nighttime Division I soccer to the San Fernando Valley when they host preseason No. 5 Portland at 7 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field.

The 2009 season proved to be a banner year for CSUN, noticeably raising expectations in the program on the precipice of the 2010 campaign. With nine starters and 21 letterwinners returning, head coach Keith West is excited about the challenging non-conference slate he has put together in preparation for the league season. Both the Gauchos and Pilots are NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago and will set the stage for upcoming matches with UCLA, Kansas, Texas A&M and San Diego.

Among those returning to the Matadors in 2010 are forwards Farryn Townley and Heidi Farran, who combined to score 13 goals and total 29 points a year ago. In the midfield, Sonia Espitia and Erin Kelly provide senior leadership and emerging talents like Melissa Fernandez and Marie Hirsch are expected to increase their contributions on the offensive side of the field. On defense, Katie Russ, Brielle Slepicoff, Jasmine Pratt and Desiree Cardenas all return to anchor a unit that remains the team's strength. Finally, Cynthia Jacobo, she of five-straight league shutouts in 2009, returns to give the Matadors a formidable 11.

Last season, UC Santa Barbara finished 9-10-3 overall and 5-2-1 in the Big West. The Gauchos defeated Northridge twice at Matador Soccer Field, including a 2-1 victory in the Big West Semifinals. UCSB then defeated Cal Poly to receive the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, where it lost in the first round to BYU. Portland finished the year ranked fourth in the RPI with an overall record of 21-2. The Pilots lost a 2-1 decision to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament and the meeting between the Matadors and Portland will be the first ever on the soccer pitch.

Tickets for all home women'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.

Lights, Camera, Action

Sunday's contest against Portland will be the inaugural match under the new lights at Matador Soccer Field. The fixtures were installed in the summer of 2010 and will reintroduce the San Fernando Valley to nighttime Division I soccer. The women's program will play a total of seven of their 10 home matches at 5 p.m. or later, including contests against Pepperdine, Penn and San Diego. The men's team will play its first under the lights on Aug. 27 in an exhibition contest against San Diego State. CSUN played nighttime soccer at its North Campus Stadium until the 2001 season and this match will be the first under the lights at Matador Soccer Field.

Sunday's match will also be broadcast on GoMatadors.com. Bill Courtland, the voice of the Matador men's basketball program, will provide play-by-play. CSUN men's soccer head coach Terry Davila will join Courtland on the broadcast to provide expert analysis.

Things Will Be Great When You're Downtown-ley

Senior Farryn Townley enters her final season at Northridge on the cusp of setting several new school records. After tying a school record with nine goals in 2009, Townley sits at 15 career tallies, four shy of tying Erin Broadwell for the most in school history. For her career, Townley has scored 33 points, the sixth-most in school history. That figure is 12 points shy of matching Kristy Krohn for the most in school history. An All-Big West First Team selection in 2009, Townley had nine goals, two assists and 20 points in her junior season. That point total was tied for the third-most in school history for a single season. Townley also led the Big West Conference with five game-winning goals in 2009, giving her eight game winners over the past two seasons.

Jacobo & Myers

Sophomore Cynthia Jacobo looks to pick up in 2010 where she left things in 2009. The Big West Freshman of the Year and an All-Big West Second Team honoree, she recorded five-straight shutouts over league opponents in the first five matches of her career. She finished the season with a 5-1 record, five shutouts and a 0.30 goals-against-average. That GAA was not only the best in school history for a single season, but also stands as the all-time mark in school history. The five shutouts already rank fifth in school history.

We Interrupt This Jets-Raiders Game

Junior Heidi Farran put together a very successful sophomore season in 2009. Farran finished the year with four goals, one assist and nine points for the year, helping her earn All-Big West Honorable Mention honors. Against league opponents, Farran had three goals, two of which were game winners (against UC Irvine and Long Beach State). She scored her first career goal at San Diego State on Aug 23, 2009.

Sonia's Story

Senior Sonia Espitia is one of five Matador seniors looking to put together another successful season in 2010. In her junior year, Espitia finished with two goals, two assists and six points, setting new career highs in all three categories. For her work, Espitia earned All-Big West Second Team honors following the season. She enters her final season at CSUN with two goals, four assists and eight points for her career. Her first career goal came against San Diego State on Aug. 23, 2009.

Brie All That You Can Brie

Junior Brielle Slepicoff earned All-Big West Honorable Mention in 2009 after finishing the season with two assists. A devastatingly fast outside back, Slepicoff is one of the anchors of the defense and enters the year with one goal, five assists and seven points for her career. She is also likely to see time at outside midfield and could even play striker for the Matadors, giving head coach Keith West versatility.

Russ to the Rescue

Sophomore Katie Russ did an outstanding job anchoring the Matador defense from her center back position. Now with a year of experience under her belt, Russ will be counted upon even more for her tenacity and leadership. In 2009, she picked up her first career point in CSUN's victory over Long Beach State, assisting on Heidi Farran's game-winning goal. Her season took an interesting turn when she played an unexpected role in the Matadors' 3-2 victory over Cal Poly. After injuries knocked out CSUN's top two goalkeepers, Russ left her center back position and assumed the duties in net. In the process, she earned the victory for the Matadors, playing the final 28 minutes and allowing only one goal.

Cardenas Transfers talent to CSUN

Senior Desiree Cardenas excelled in her first season at Northridge after transferring from Cerritos JC. Capable of playing all over the field, Cardenas had a three-point game in the win over Cal Poly, heading home her second goal of the season and picking up the game-winning assist on Farryn Townley's goal. She scored her first goal of the year on a header against Oregon State. Cardenas had six points (2 G, 2A) on the season, good for the fourth-most on the team.

Hawaiian Punch

Senior Jasmine Pratt enjoyed a breakout season in 2009, serving as a team captain and recording the first two assists of her career. She helped set up Heidi Farran on the game-winning goal against UC Irvine and had her first career helper at Creighton on Sept. 4. An outstanding defensive player, Pratt is expected to see time at both outside back, center back and at outside midfield. With at least 20 games on the schedule in 2010, Pratt, who enters the season with 57 career appearances, could set a new school record in the category.

Matadors in Season Openers

The Matadors are 8-6-1 in their 15 season-opening contests. CSUN owns an all-time road opener record of 7-7-1 and a 7-6-2 record all time in its home openers.

Matadors 5th in Preseason Poll (Again)

A preseason survey of the Big West Conference women's soccer coaches predicted a fifth-place finish for the Matadors in 2010. The Matadors received 45 points in the poll to place fifth for the second-straight year. UC Santa Barbara, whom CSUN plays twice this season, was the preseason favorite for the second-straight year as well, receiving four first-place votes and 75 points overall. In the 2009 poll, CSUN received 33 points, but went 6-2 on the year to finish second in the league.