September 15, 2011

Matadors Rally From Two-Goal Deficit to Earn Draw at No. 15/22 CSU Bakersfield, 2-2

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

After falling behind 2-0 in the first 30 minutes of action, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (2-3-1) fought back and rallied for a 2-2 draw against the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (2-0-2) on Thursday night at the Main Soccer Field in Bakersfield, Calif.

The Roadrunners entered the week ranked at No. 15 in the Goal.com Top 25, No. 22 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Tournament 48 and No. 6 in the Far West Region by the NSCAA. CSU Bakersfield also received votes in the NSCAA Division I Top 25 and Soccer Times polls as well.

The Matadors saw a three-point performance from sophomore Thomas Ramos (one goal, one assist) and a goal by forward Brian Behrad to complete the comeback and eventually send the game into overtime.

The Roadrunners were the first to strike in the match as highly-regarded forward Gyasi Zardes scored his first goal of the match in the 26th minute. Zardes' score came on a hard shot from approximately 25 yards out that beat Matador goalkeeper Michael Abalos and went into the top right corner of the net.

Following a few tactical substitutions by both sides, Zardes found the net for a second time as a breakaway opportunity in the 30th minute resulted in a shot inside the box that again went in for a goal.

Coming into the match, Zardes had scored six goals on a pair of hat tricks in the first two games of the season.

Down by two goals, the Matadors stepped up the intensity on defense to limit the ability for Zardes to find space in the attacking third of the pitch. As a result, Bakersfield was unable to get a chance at goal for the remainder of the half.

Based on this defensive success, Northridge was able to capitalize as a pass from Carlos Benavides found Ramos in front in the 44th. Ramos made a run at the goal and struck a ball from eight yards out that went in for his first goal of the season. Benavides earned his second assist of the year on the play and the score was 2-1 Bakersfield at halftime.

Bakersfield charged out of the gates to begin the second half and won three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes, but the Northridge defense did not allow a shot attempt.

The Matadors were able to win a corner kick of their own at the end of the 59th minute. Chris Smith, the team's primary corner kick taker, stepped up for the cross and dropped a ball into the crowd of players in front of the goal. Ramos came up with the ball and passed to Behrad who put it home from a few yards out to even the score at two apiece.

The two sides traded chances for the rest of regulation, with Northridge's best chance coming on a Yarden Azulay shot that was saved in the 83rd minute and the Roadrunners just missing the mark when Jesus Sanchez hit the post in the 79th. Neither side was able to net the winner and the match went to overtime.

Northridge, playing in its third overtime match of the season, allowed just one shot in the extra periods to earn its first draw of the year.

The Matadors will host the program's annual Alumni Match at Matador Soccer Field this Sunday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. Northridge returns to regular-season action on September 25 with a 7 p.m. match against SMU in Northridge.

NOTES: Freshman Zachary DeVille made his debut for the Matadors against Bakersfield and took one shot ... With the draw, the Matadors are now 22-0-1 all-time against the Roadrunners ... Also, the draw snaps a six-game losing streak in overtime matches for the program, dating back to Sept. 10, 2010 when CSUN played to a 0-0 tie with Washington at the Cal State Fullerton Invitational.

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