2011 Men's Soccer Preview

2011 Preseason Big West Conference Coaches Poll

Weekly Release in PDF Format

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will kick off the 2011 season with an exhibition against Cal State Dominguez Hills this Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field. The contest offers the first look at this year's team and admission for the match will be free for all fans in attendance.

Survey Says....

The 2011 Cal State Northridge men's soccer team received 20 points and was picked to finish fifth in the 2011 Big West Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches poll as announced by the league office in mid-August. Northridge was beat out by UC Irvine as the Anteaters earned 30 points to claim fourth place in the voting. Finishing in third place with 32 total points was Cal State Fullerton, with Cal Poly earning 40 points and a first-place vote to grab second place. UC Santa Barbara lead the way for the second year in a row with 48 points and six first place votes. UC Davis and UC Riverside rounding out the poll in sixth and seventh place respectively with 14 and 12 points.

Follow the Matadors Online This Week

With the Matadors playing in their only tuneup before the regular season begins next week, you can catch the action against the Cal State Dominguez Hills Toros on GameTracker by clicking the live stats link on GoMatadors.com. All home matches and select road matches will be available with live stats online. Check the schedule on GoMatadors.com before the start of each contest for details.

A Closer Look at CSU Dominguez Hills

The Matadors will face the Toros of Cal State Dominguez Hills in an exhibition contest at Matador Soccer Field before the start of the regular season. Northridge has not squared off against the Toros in nearly 15 years, the last meeting taking place at North Campus Stadium in 1996 as the Matadors held on for a 2-1 victory.

A member of the California Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA Division II), Cal State Dominguez Hills is coming off of a 14-5-2 overall record with a 10-4-5 conference mark and a second place finish in 2010. Head coach Joe Flanagan returns for his 18th season at the helm and looks to lead his side to a trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Toros are led by junior forward Andre Turoldo, who used his role as a key substitution to spark the attack, notching 22 points with seven goals and eight assists. Of the 20 games he participated in, Turoldo got the starting nod on nine occasions. For his efforts, Turoldo was named an All-CCAA Honorable Mention along with junior goalkeeper Markus Dickerson. Dickerson, as the team's primary `keeper, started in 17 matches and had a goals against average of 0.83 en route to a 12-5-3 record and eight shutouts.

Also returning for the Toros is sophomore midfielder Miguel Vasquez, who netted three goals and added one assist in 18 matches (eight starts) as a true freshman.

Getting Back on Top

There is an air of determination and hope that can be felt around the offices of the Matador men's soccer program leading up to the season. Following a down season that resulted in three wins and a seventh place finish in the Big West, the 2011 Matadors look to climb their way to the top of the charts once again buy utilizing veteran leadership and the right blend of incoming talent.

In 2010, the addition of lights to Matador Soccer Field ushered in a new era for the program, allowing the team to play night games at home for the first time since 2001. With the lights, the Matadors are able to attract quality opponents and raise their profle on the national stage, evidenced by this season's Labor Day Classic and matchups against defending national champion Akron and Southern Methodist University.

Finishing the 2010 campaign with an overall record of 3-14-2, and conference mark of 2-7-1, Davila is pleased with the growth of the team coming into the fall season.

Despite last season's seventh place finish in the conference standings, everyone associated with the team knows that a good deal of success can be earned by the 2011 squad that is infused with experience and talent.. After losing seven letterwinners from a year ago, the coaching staff has brought in 11 fresh faces to the program, giving CSUN the talent and experience needed to help the Matadors climb to the top of the table and claim the Big West crown. Sophomore defender Yuval Barak (Tel Aviv, Israel/Aliance HS) looks to return to the pitch in 2011 along with freshman forward Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles, Calif./Santee Educational Complex), as both utilized their redshirt season a year ago.

Between the Pipes

Following up on a career-season in 2009, junior goalkeeper Michael Abalos (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic HS) was able to add to his success in net and climb the ranks in the Northridge record book. Abalos ended his freshman season earning All-Big West Conference Honorable Mention recognition with his seven wins, 1.17 goals against average and five shutouts. Bringing his stalwart defense into his second campaign, Abalos has solidified his place between the pipes.

After a year of experience under his belt, Abalos became a leader for the Matadors and started 17 matches in 2010. His three wins included two shutouts: back-to-back clean sheets against Air Force and Cal State Fullerton. The sophomore was also vital in Northridge's 2-1 upset of No. 7 UC Irvine on the road. As an upperclassmen at the helm of a veteran defense, the Matadors will look to use the defensive third to win possession and set up the offense with chances to score. In addition to having Abalos on the final line for the third year in a row, Coach Davila will feel confident in a defense that has a year of experience together and adds skilled newcomers to fill in in any situation.

Northridge will once again be strong in goal this season as senior Manabu Kaji (Citrus College/Kajoshima, Japan) returns for his final season and freshman Luis Ayala-Padilla (Chula Vista, Calif./Mater Dei Catholic HS) joins the squad to provide the last line of defense for the Matadors in 2011. The Northridge tradition of strong goalkeeping figures to remain intact for many years to come.

The Back Line

With two shutouts last season, including back-to-back blankings of Air Force and Cal State Fullerton, the Matadors' defense has come together to help the squad become the elite program in the Big West once more. In addition to the return of Barak, Joe Franco (Monrovia, Calif./St. Francis HS), Jake Troy (Salt Lake City, Utah/Judge Memorial Catholic HS) and Taylor Bowlin (Pleasant View, Utah/UNLV) also return for another shot at a Big West title in 2011.Jeremy Hohn (Vacaville, Calif./Vacaville HS) rounds out the back line after claiming All-Big West Honorable Mention recognition last year.

One of only two players to start and compete in every game last season, Franco's second season solidified his place as a defensive power in the conference, mixing in offensive skill with his assist in the 2-1 win at UC Irvine last season. Returning to the back line in 2011 for Coach Davila is sophomore defender Tanner Snedigar (Quartz Hill, Calif./Quartz Hill HS), who appeared in six games with two starts in his freshman campaign. Snedigar looks to be a force for the Matadors this year as evidenced by his ability to move forward and support the attack with his speed and passing.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Smith (Palmdale, Calif./Quartz Hill HS) started three matches and appeared in eight in 2010, assisting on Hohn's goal against UCLA, and looks to battle for a place in the starting XI in his second full year on the pitch. Newcomers to the defense for the Matadors include transfers Jose Luis Garcia (Moorpark College) andRene Hernandez (Lynwood, Calif./Cerritos College), and incoming freshman Sam Mahmood (San Diego, Calif.). All three have looked strong in preseason workouts and figure to battle starting time and crucial bench minutes for Coach Davila this season.

Men in the Middle

Yet again Matador fans will see a deep midfield, one that highlights the skilled student-athletes that can excel on both offense and defense. Nearly all of the midfielders on the roster in 2011 are also listed at other positions, and the Northridge faithful will see a healthy rotation employed by Davila this year. Rafael Garcia (Canoga Park, Calif./Canoga Park HS) will return to the pitch for his senior season as a captain of the squad after increasing his offensive output last season by leading the team in assists (6), shots (49), shots on goal (26) and points (10). For his efforts in 2010, Garcia was named to the All-Big West Second Team. Another midfielder returning for CSUN is Rene Anguiano (Los Angeles, Calif./Los Angeles HS). In his second season with the program, Anguiano started in all 19 games and scored twice, bringing intensity and excitement to all parts of the field.

In addition to Garcia and Anguiano, the Matadors will see the return of a good deal of players this year. Alberto Rosas (Van Nuys, Calif./Birmingham HS), Thomas Ramos (Phoenix, Ariz./Pinnacle HS), Carlos Benavides(Woodland Hills, Calif./El Camino Real HS), Majeed Shahin (Los Angeles, Calif./Los Angeles Lutheran HS), andNicholas Hamilton (Coronado, Calif./Coronado HS) are all coming off of productive years for Coach Davila whileSam Perez (Parker, Colo./Chaparral HS) joins the team after utilizing his redshirt season.

All of the Matador returners in the midfield give Davila added options for his starting lineups for the season. With the versatility of this veteran group, the coaching staff also has the luxury of having a strong group of players on the pitch at any given moment. Rounding out the list of midfielders on the roster this season are four talented newcomers recruited by the coaching staff to shore up the squad and add depth to the bench while bolstering the program for years to come. The quartet of newcomers to the middle of the pitch comes from a mix of programs with each adding his style to the group. Trevor Morley (San Diego, Calif./University City HS), David Turcios (Van Nuys, Calif./Birmingham HS), Carlos Gonzalez (Sylmar, Calif./Sylmar HS), and James Rochlitz (Loyola Marymount University) are all prepared to help the team grow long into the future by giving Davila options in the midfield as well as up top.

Out in Front

The front line for the Matadors this season figures to give Coach Davila flexibility in the attack. Feuled by players coming off of their first full seasons of competition, the depth at forward will help CSUN get out in front as they look to contend for another Big West title. Redshrt sophomore Gustavo Villalobos (Van Nuys, Calif./Birmingham HS) returns for another season after netting two goals and helping on two more. His six points in 2010 are second-most among returners and he figures to succeed in both the midfield and out in front this season. Brian Behrad (Woodland Hills, Calif./Taft HS) is coming off of a productive freshman campaign and will likely see an increased amount of minutes in 2011. Last season, the sophomore started twice and appeared in 14 games for the Matadors. While only taking six shots over the course of the season, his speed and vision at forward led many defenses to focus more attention on him, opening up others for scoring opportunities. Also looking to evolve into goal-scoring threats of their own are redshirt freshmen Edwin Rivas (Los Angeles, Calif./Santee Educational Complex), who sat out last season, and incoming freshmen Zachary DeVille (San Diego, Calif./University City HS), who had a decorated prep and club career, and Christian Gonzalez Diaz (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo HS). All three have the ability to make an immediate impact on the pitch upon their arrival to Matador Soccer Field this fall.

In for Six

Against Cal Poly on Oct. 6, 2010, 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 associate head coach Yossi Raz in a home game against Denver on October 6, 2002. Both Sims and Raz held the team record for most shots on goal in one game before Garcia's eye-opening performance in San Luis Obispo took place.

The Friendly Confines

Of the 19 matches on the schedule this year, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will play just over half of their contests at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge will host ten games in 2011, including the Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic, squaring off against such programs as UNLV, SMU, UC Santa Barbara and defending national champion Akron. 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 77 games played on-campus, CSUN possesses an overwhelming 50-19-8 record at home for a .701 winning percentage on their home turf.

Strength of Schedule

Known for assembling a tough non-conference schedule, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will once again take on a number of teams ranked in national polls throughout the season. As ranked in the preseason national poll by the NSCAA, the Matadors will face five squads in the top 25. Northridge will play host to No. 2 Akron on Sept. 3, No. 5 SMU on Sept. 23, No. 24 UC Irvine on Oct. 26 and No. 14 UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 1. The Matadors will also travel to cross-town rival No. 6 UCLA on Oct. 22.

Welcome to the Century Club

With one additional victory, 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 2011 season with 113 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 99-67-32 overall record (.580 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.

Quick out of the Gates

The Matadors are 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.

Rewriting the Record Books

One indication of the success goalkeeper Michael Abalos has earned so far in his career 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 first two seasons at Northridge. Abalos now owns eighth place with his 10 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.44 career goals against average, and is 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.

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.

Head Coach Terry Davila

Coach Davila begins his 13th season at the helm of the Matador men's soccer program at Northridge in 2011. Davila is looking to improve on a 3-14-2 season in 2010 and a seventh place finish in the Big West Conference.

After narrowly missing the postseason in 2008, Davila led his squad to a 10-8-2 record in 2009, the best mark since the 2005 season, and a return to postseason action when his Matadors clinched a spot in the Big West Men's Soccer Postseason Tournament. Although his season ended earlier than he had hoped, Davila's coaching ability was rewarded in the offseason when six of his players earned a spot on the All-Big West Conference squad with three players each receiving First Team and Honorable Mention. His players were not the only ones to receive end-of-season recognition as for the fourth time in his career, Davila earned Big West Coach of the Year Honors as voted upon by his conference peers.

In 2008, the Matadors finished 8-7-4 overall and 4-3-3 in the Big West Conference. As a team, the Matadors began the season winning the inaugural Titan Tournament held on the campus of Cal State Fullerton and finished the season only one point shy of participating in the Big West Conference Men's Soccer Tournament. In total, five of Davila's players received All-Big West honors, a list of talented student-athletes that included Sunghyun Kim andKevin Guppy on the First Team - with the latter receiving co-Goalkeeper of the Year recognition, Robert Pate andCamilo Rojas on the Second Team, and Chad Borak receiving Honorable Mention.

In 2007, the Matadors finished 7-7-6 overall and 3-5-4 in the Big West Conference. As a team, the Matadors' 3-0 victory over UCLA, the program's first victory ever of the Bruins, highlighted the season. Individually, Davila and the team witnessed several impressive performances. Kevin Guppy became the all-time leader in career wins during the season en route to a spot on the All-Big West Second Team. Senior defenders Sean Franklin and Matt Tracy both earned a spot on the All-Big West First Team, while Rafael Garcia joined Guppy on the Second Team. Sunghyun Kim became the fifth Matador to earn All-Conference accolades, receiving Honorable Mention honors. Following the season, Franklin, a defender on the USA U-23 National Team, was the fourth overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft, going to the LA Galaxy, where he quickly earned a spot in the starting 11.

During the 2006 season, Davila guided the Matadors to an 8-6-5 record with one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Northridge tied national runner-up UCLA to open the season and split two meetings with NCAA Champion UC Santa Barbara, including a 5-0 victory at home on Sept. 27. Northridge finished third in the ultra-competitive Big West Conference with a 5-2-3 league mark. Eight Matadors earned All-Big West honors, including first teamers Taylor Canel, Sean Franklin and Derek Hanks. Both Canel and Franklin also received All-Far West Region accolades, giving the Matadors 12 All-Region selections over the last five years.

In 2004 and 2005, Davila and his staff masterfully coached a pair of double-digit winning teams with both the Northridge men's and women's soccer teams. In 2005, the women completed their second straight, double-digit win total with an 11-8-0 record, which included a school-record, nine-match winning streak. One year earlier, the 2004 squad completed an eight-win turnaround from the year before, going 12-6-1 and earning a berth in the Big West Tournament. The 12 victories and six conference wins both equaled the best output in one season for Northridge as Davila was honored as Big West Coach of the Year.

The men's team earned its first-ever NCAA postseason victory in `05 and a trip to the Sweet 16 last year after knocking off UC Santa Barbara in the second round of the tournament. The Matadors won their second Big West title in three years and made their fourth straight postseason appearance, posting a 15-4-3 record, which were the most wins for a Northridge squad since 1988. Ten Matadors received All-Big West honors, including Goalkeeper of the Year Kevin Guppy and Midfielder of the Year Daniel Paladini. Willie Sims also earned All-American status, making him the second Matador to receive such honors under Davila, who was also named co-Big West Coach of the Year.

In 2004, the men's team finished with a record of 11-6-2 overall and a 6-2-2 league mark, placing second in the Big West. Nine Matadors received All-Big West Conference accolades, including Sims, who was named co-Big West Offensive Player of the Year. In the previous season, Davila was named Coach of the Year as his team crafted a 14-3-3 record that was good enough to capture a Big West title and All-Big West honors, including Edwin Miranda, who was named Defender of the Year for the second year in a row. Miranda also earned All-American and All-Far West Region honors.

In 2002, Davila led Northridge to a 14-5-2 overall record and its first-ever trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament. Ten Matadors received all-conference honors and three earned all-region selections (Miranda, Brian Phillips, Jesse Servin). Other accolades included Big West Goalkeeper of the Year (Joe Barton) and Defender of the Year (Miranda).

Davila became just the fourth head coach in the history of the men's program when he succeeded Marwan Ass'ad in 1999. A former four-year starter for the Matadors, Davila spent three seasons (1995-97) as the top assistant under Ass'ad before taking over the head job.

Davila graduated with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Cal State Northridge in 1994. Davila and his wife Stephanie have two daughters, Jayden and Olivia, and one son, Devin.

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