Aug. 20, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team begins its 2008 season with a non-conference match against San Diego State on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Senior captains Nalena Betancourt and Tryna Tafoya lead the Matadors against the Aztecs for the first time since 2005, a match Northridge won, 2-1, in overtime.
For Northridge, the contest opens a 19-game campaign featuring 11 non-conference contests, including a meeting with defending NCAA champion USC, before moving into Big West Conference action. CSUN finished the 2007 season 5-10-3 overall, but ended the year 3-1-2 over its last six games, including a 1-0 victory over preseason favorite UC Santa Barbara. Still, the league's coaches picked the Matadors to finish seventh in 2008.
The Aztecs enter 2008 fresh off a 2007 campaign that saw them finish 9-8-3 overall and second in the Mountain West Conference with a 4-2-1 record. Mike Friesen is in his second year at the helm of the San Diego State program.
SDSU is bolstered by the return of sophomore goalkeeper Aubree Southwick, who picked up numerous awards in her rookie season. She was a First-Team All-MWC selection, the 2007 MWC Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year and earned Second-Team Freshman All-America honors from Soccer Buzz. In 2007, Southwich posted a 0.90 goals-against-average and posted 10 shutouts.
Senior Alicia Piz is the team's top returning scorer, finshing 2007 with a goal and three assists, the five points placing her third on the team. Junior Millie Allen returns in 2008 after finisihing with a pair of goals in 2007.
The Matadors return a very experienced defensive core. Sophomore Ivette Esqueda was in net for the Matadors during that six game run, posting shutout victories over league rivals UC Riverside and the Gauchos. Freshman Haley Hawes starts the season backing her up.
Joining Esqueda are three returning defenders who did not miss a match in 2007: Betancourt, junior Sydney Vermillion and sophomore Jasmine Pratt. In fact, Betancourt has not missed a start along the Matador backline in her three-year career. Sophomores Katie Fox and Michelle Moore and freshmen Brielle Slepicoff, Nicole Cruz and Emily Geckle should also see playing time for the Matadors throughout the season.
In midfield, Northridge features Tafoya on one wing, as the senior enters the season with nine career assists, good for a tie for sixth in school history. With her four career goals, she stands currently at 17 points, four shy of 10th all time. Fellow senior Tinamarie Lutizetti owns 42 career appearances and two career assists.
CSUN also welcomes back junior Kelley Ross and sophomores Sonia Espitia and Erin Kelly. Ross has made 36 career appearances for Northridge and started the last 11 games of the 2007 season. Espitia and Kelly also saw extensive playing time during their rookie seasons, each making 16 appearances last year.
Northridge also welcomes in a host of newcomers looking to make their presence felt quickly. Head coach Keith West has two redshirt freshmen, Katie Coulas and Heidi Farran, and rookie Nancy Avesyan to add to the Matador attack.
Up front, senior Kristal Phillips and sophomore Farryn Townley return after signifigant portions of the 2007 season. Phillips did not appear in any matches during 2007, but registered a team-high six goals and 16 points in 2006. Townley scored two goals and had an assist in 2006, but appeared in only four games last year before injuries ended her season.
Junior Adrienne Dickerson joins the offensive attack, having recorded the game-winning goal in the Matadors' victory over Baylor last season.
Northridge returns to action on Aug. 29, when it hosts Southern Utah as part of a tripleheader of soccer at Matador Soccer Field. The Matadors and Eagles will begin at 1:30 a.m. and will be followed by a pair of men's games, Cal State Fullerton vs. Alabama A&M at 2 p.m. and Cal State Northridge vs. Georgetown at 4:30 p.m.