Matadors Earn Hard-Fought Victory Over Canisius in Season Opener 2-0
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - The Cal State Northridge men's soccer team (1-0) opened the season strong offensively, working to a 2-0 victory over the Canisius Griffins (0-1) on Friday night at Matador Soccer Field. The win was the 100th for head coach Terry Davila as a member of the Big West Conference.
The Northridge offense came out at a blistering pace and owned a 10-2 shot advantage after one half of play. Eleven different Matadors registered a shot during the match, led by forwards Edwin Rivas and Christian Gonzalez Diaz with four apiece, and eight individuals tallied a shot on goal with Gonzalez Diaz recording three.
The game was slow in pace for the first 20 minutes as both teams were figuring the other out in the early stages. Things started to open up for the Matadors after a shot by Canisius forward Asani Samuels was blocked in front of the net.
In the 26th minute, Northridge midfielder Chris Smith received the ball in space 30 yards from the goal. After taking his time to check his options, Smith fired the ball at the net and his shot soared over the goalkeepers head out of range before dipping just under the crossbar for the season's first goal. The score was the first of his career at CSUN.
The first of two chances for Canisius came in in the 33rd minute as a cross to Derek Maier was headed on goal, forcing goalkeeper Manabu Kaji to make a save to preserve the lead as the Matadors took a 1-0 advantage into halftime.
Both teams entered the second half on a mission and as a result the game became more physical. The teams combined for four yellow cards in the match and 17 of the match's 31 fouls came in the final 45 minutes.
With the Matadors clinging to a one-goal lead, midfielder Gustavo Villalobos set up Gonzalez Diaz, whose shot found the net to double the margin in the 67th minute. Off of a corner kick, Villalobos centered a low cross to the top of the box. With traffic in front of the net, Gonzalez Diaz shot a low ball to the lower right corner of the net past a shielded goalkeeper.
A header by Samuels for the Griffins nearly erased the clean sheet in the 83rd, but Kaji sprawled to his left to punch the attempt wide of the goal. Kaji earned his first start in goal for the Matadors and recorded his first victory and shutout in one.
The Matadors return to action on Thursday, Sept. 1 at approximately 7 p.m. against the UNLV Rebels at home as part of the 2011 Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic. The Cal State Fullerton Titans will face the defending national champion Akron Zips at Matador Soccer Field at 4:30. Northridge will go up against Akron on Saturday, Sept. 3 at approximately 7 p.m.