NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors (1-2-0) were defeated by the No. 2 Akron Zips (2-0-1) 2-1 in double overtime on Saturday night at Matador Soccer Field. The match marked the finale of the 2011 Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic.
"You'll take a 2-1 loss like this anytime," said head coach Terry Davila. "We fought hard with a man down against the No. 2 team in the nation and not many teams can say that."
Despite playing down a man for over 72 minutes in regulation due to an accumulation of yellow cards by Nicholas Hamilton, the Matadors were able to get a late goal from freshman Yarden Azulay to force overtime.
Things began physically in the first half with both teams trying to take the reigns before Hamilton saw his first yellow card in the fourth minute. After the caution the Matadors did not tone down the intensity, contesting every pass and making things difficult offensively for the defending national champions.
An Akron player sent a through ball to forward Darren Mattocks, who was bumped off the ball by Hamilton in the 18th minute. The referee deemed the tackle reckless enough and, due to the earlier card, sent Hamilton off with his second yellow.
Playing with a one-man advantage, Akron was able to break onto the scoring sheet first as Mattocks slid a shot to the right of Matador goalkeeper Michael Abalos in the 25th minute for his third goal of the season. Midfielder Scott Caldwell was credited with the assist.
Abalos was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, making three saves in the first half to keep the deficit at one goal.
Trailing by one at the start of the second half, Northridge shifted into a more defensive role, relying on the midfielders to stop any Akron advances and to clear the ball away from the net. As frustrations grew for the Zips two different Akron players saw a card in the next 12 minutes.
A yellow was shown to CSUN's Edwin Rivas and Akron's Bryan Gallego in the 57th minute as the two went in for a loose ball and got entangled as the ball went out of bounds.
With the crowd inside Matador Soccer Field at a fever pitch after a close chance by Thomas Ramos that just missed wide, Northridge was biding its time in the closing minutes.
Azulay, the newcomer from Jordan Valley, Israel, sprinted for a loose ball after blocking a shot and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper in the 82nd minute. With room ahead of him and defenders closing in from behind, Azulay cheekily lifted the ball over the goalkeeper's head and into the back of the net for his first career goal.
"We had to sit and be patient and wait for them (Akron) to make a mistake and they made it," said Davila.
Things appeared to brighten even further for the Matadors as Gallego picked up his second yellow card and was shown the exit just over a minute later. Playing with 10 men apiece, the teams settled for overtime.
After 10 scoreless minutes in the first extra period, the game advanced to the 106th minute before a cross from Akron's DeAndre Yedlin was booted home by Caldwell to end the match. The loss was the second consecutive for Northridge after regulation. Abalos finished the match with 12 saves in defeat and was named to the All-Tournament Team, along with teammate Joe Franco.
The Matadors return to action on Friday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. MT against Missouri State at the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Northridge will face off against the host Lobos on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. MT.
2011 CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE LABOR DAY CLASSIC: