September 27, 2011

Matadors Open Big West Slate With Two Matches This Week

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif - 

The Cal State Northridge Matadors open the 2011 Big West Conference season on the road this week when they take on the UC Davis Aggies on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 3 p.m. at Aggie Soccer Field. Following the match at UC Davis, the Matadors will return to Northridge for their conference home opener against the Cal State Fullerton Titans on Saturday, Oct. 1. Both matches will have live stats available to follow on GameTracker, and the match against the Titans will feature an Internet radio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. Eldrick Bone and Raul Delgado will bring all the action in their first season as the Cal State Northridge men's soccer radio announcers.

A Closer Look at UC Davis

The Matadors will head north to take on the UC Davis Aggies in the first match of the 2011 Big West Conference season on Wednesday afternoon. The Aggies lead the all-time series with Northridge by a 6-2-2 margin and have won the last six decisions dating back to 2005. 

The Aggies enter the week with a record of 2-4-2 and are coming off of a loss to Sacramento State in double overtime on Sept. 23. UC Davis owns a mark of 2-1-2 and have defeated both Oregon State and UCLA at Aggie Soccer Field. The last meeting between the Matadors and Aggies ended in a 1-0 UC Davis victory in double overtime on last October.

Eddie Manella and Alex Aguiar lead the Aggies in scoring so far this season, as each has recorded both a goal and an assist. Manella leads the team with 22 shots and nine attempts on goal as well. In 2011, UC Davis has had a goal scored by six different players and an assist by seven. No player has more than one of each for the Aggies.

Omar Zeenni has played every minute in goal for UC Davis this year. The sophomore is in his first season as the full-time goalkeeper for the Aggies and has compiled a 0.90 goals against average. Zeenni has been credited with both victories this year and has two shutouts, the 1-0 victory over Oregon State in double overtime and a scoreless draw at home against CSU Bakersfield.

Following the match on Wednesday, the Aggies will remain at home to take on UC Riverside on Saturday, Oct. 1.

A Closer Look at Cal State Fullerton

The Cal State Fullerton Titans travel to Matador Soccer Field to take on the Matadors in a rivalry match on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. The Matadors own the edge in the all-time series at 16-14-2, with the two game advantage coming in matches played in Northridge. The teams split the series last season, with each side winning a match on the road.

The Titans currently own a record of 6-1-1 on the season, with the only blemishes coming in a scoreless draw against No. 2 Akron at the Cal State Northridge Labor Day Classic on Sept. 1 and a 2-1 loss at George Mason on Sept. 18. Most recently, Cal State Fullerton defeated Denver 4-2 in just its first home match since the season opener.

Kevin Venegas leads the Titans in scoring with five goals and three assists for 13 points this season. Venegas has taken the most shots on the team (27), has netted four game-winning goals, and was named to the Labor Day Classic All-Tournament Team. 

Trevor Whiddon has started all eight matches in net for Cal State Fullerton and has earned four shutouts. He has a 0.74 goals against average and has also made 30 saves, which ties for second in the conference with Michael Abalos. Cal State Fullerton takes on CSU Bakersfield at home on Wednesday, Sept. 28 before heading to Northridge this weekend.

Results from Last Week

The Cal State Northridge split a pair of matches at Matador Soccer Field last week. Northridge faced off against SMU on Friday night and took on Seattle University for the first time in program history on Sunday morning.

The Matadors played a tough SMU team to an even match for most of the night, but a goal by Tyler Engel in the 58th minute of action spelled the difference in the 1-0 final score. The goal came off of a long run for the Mustangs by Damian Rosales, whose pass to Juan Castillo was crossed to Engel in the box. Engel redirected the ball into the top right corner of the net for the eventual game winner.

On Sunday morning, the Matadors avenged their loss by playing to a 3-0 defeat of the Seattle Redhawks. Three different Northridge players scored in the match and five different Matadors earned an assist. Fueled by defender Luis Gutierrez's first career goal for CSUN just before the half, the Matadors added two scores in the final 45 minutes to cruise to victory. Chris Smith added Northridge's second goal of the game on a header off of a cross into the box and forward Thomas Ramos netted his second of the season in the 81st minute.

Ramos also earned an assist in the match to collect his second three-point match in three games. Also credited with assists were Yarden Azulay, Carlos Benavides, Joe Franco and Rene Anguiano. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos needed just one save to earn his ninth career shutout, which puts him in a tie for fifth all-time at Northridge.

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. 

You Cannot Spell Points Without the Letters 'O' and 'T'

Since joining the Big West in 2001, CSUN has played in 51 overtime games, and have failed to earn a point in only 10 of those matches. The last time Northridge won a game in overtime took place in 2009 when CSUN scored the golden goal in overtime against the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Most recently, the Matadors broke a six-match losing streak in OT games by working for a 2-2 draw at CSU Bakersfield after being down 2-0 on Sept. 15.

Down But Not Out

In the Matadors' match against No. 2 Akron on September 3, Northridge played down a man for 66 minutes due to an accumulation of yellow cards by Nicholas Hamilton. In the 25th minute of action, the Zips took advantage of the man advantage and pulled ahead with a 1-0 lead. Not to be put away, the Matadors played a more defensive game, with goalkeeper Michael Abalos recording seven saves between the time of the red card and when freshman Yarden Azulay scored to even the match on a breakaway in the 82nd minute. So far this season, the Matadors have rallied from a goal down to tie the match twice (vs. UNLV and Akron), both times after the 75th minute. Against No. 22 CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 15, the Matadors rallied from being down two goals on the road to force overtime and earn a draw. 

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 82 games played on-campus, CSUN possesses an overwhelming 52-22-8 record at home for a .683 winning percentage on their home turf. 

Welcome to the Century Club

With the 2-0 victory over Canisius on August 26, head coach Terry Davila became the sixth coach in Big West history to win 100 games as a member of the conference. Even though Davila entered 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 100-67-32 overall record (.583 pct.). With his victory over Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 2, 2010, Davila became just the third head coach to win 50 or more Big West Conference matches.

Bring the Noise

Have a drum, cow bell, or other noisemaker lying around at home? Now is the time to bring it out and explore the space of Matador Soccer Field! The Big West Conference office announced this past summer that all noisemakers, with the exceptions of airhorns and whistles, will now be allowed at all conference matches and all home venues. As such, fans are encouraged to get into the action in a whole new way by making noise for their team during each contest. Previously, no outside noisemakers were permitted at any game and violators were subject to removal from the site. Please note that noisemakers have been approved for use at men's and women's soccer matches only, and will be confiscated in the Matadome or at any other Northridge athletics venue.

Scoring from All Positions

So far in 2011, the Matadors have seen 13 goals scored by nine different players. Christian Gonzalez Diaz, Yarden Azulay, Edwin Rivas, Chris Smith, Gustavo Villalobos, Taylor Bowlin, Thomas Ramos, Brian Behrad and Luis Gutierrez have all found the back of the net for Northridge this season. Equally as impressive is that the Matadors have a total of 16 assists on those goals, with Smith (4), Villalobos (2), Ramos (2), and Azulay (1) as the only Matadors to have a goal and a helper thus far. Midfielder Rene Anguiano, defenders Nicholas Hamilton and Joe Franco, and sophomore Carlos Benavides have each been credited with an assist. In all, the Matadors have tallied 42 points and have seen offensive production from all parts of the pitch, working the attack through a variety of positions to break down the opposition. The 42 points are fourth-most in the Big West.

On Point

Midfielder/defender Chris Smith has recorded eight points in eight matches so far in 2011, good for the team lead in scoring. The Palmdale, Calif. native is averaging 1.0 points per game and is a force in both the offensive and defensive schemes for the Matadors, and also serves as the taker of corner kicks when he is on the pitch. Smith scored Northridge's first goal of the season in the opener against Canisius when he lined up a shot from 30 yards out that curled over the goalkeeper's head and gave CSUN a 1-0 lead. He earned an assist on the only goal in CSUN's 2-1 loss to UNLV and also recorded two helpers in Northridge's 3-0 defeat of Missouri State in the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M. He also headed home the Matadors' second goal in the 3-0 victory over Seattle. Smith currently ties for the lead in the Big West in assists (4) and assists per game (0.50) and ranks in a tie for 23rd in the nation in total assists.

Strike Force

After a productive summer working with the Guatemala U-19 team, redshirt freshman Edwin Rivas is showing fans the reason that head coach Terry Davila recruited him to lead the attack. The forward out of Los Angeles has scored two goals so far this season, which put him in a tie for the team lead in that category and in a tie for fourth on the squad with four points. Rivas leads the team with 18 shots taken through eight matches. 

One and One is Three

Sophomore midfielder Thomas Ramos picked an excellent time to tally the first three points of his career. In the match against CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 15, Ramos scored a goal in the 44th minute and added an assist in the 60th to help the Matadors rally from down 2-0 to tie the match. The Northridge defense held on the road, eventually earning a 2-2 draw. Not only did Ramos score his first three points, but his performance was the first three-point match for a Matador player since Oct. 2, 2010 when Gustavo Villalobos had a goal and an assist at Cal State Fullerton. Ramos was able to repeat his performance with a goal and assist in CSUN's 3-0 victory over Seattle (9/25). Northridge has produced just six three-point efforts since 2006.

The New-Look Matadors

The Cal State Northridge Matadors will see an influx in new talent this season as 12 players on the squad are new to the program. In addition to four transfer student-athletes, Northridge has added eight true freshmen and will also see the return of freshman Edwin Rivas and sophomore Yuval Barak, who both redshirted the 2010 season. In the season-opening win over Canisius, freshman Christian Gonzalez Diaz netted an insurance goal late in the match off of a corner kick to ensure the 2-0 victory. Rivas headed home the equalizer in the 79th minute against UNLV (9/1) and Yarden Azulay scored in the 82nd minute to even the score against No. 2 Akron (9/3). Both Rivas and Azulay have multiple goals for Northridge this season.

Matadors In The Big West Top-Ten

With the Big West Conference season beginning this week, a number of Matadors are making their marks on the rest of the conference both offensively and defensively. Forward Edwin Rivas, midfielder Yarden Azulay, midfielder Chris Smith and forward Thomas Ramos rank tied for eighth in the league with two goals each. Smith ranks eighth with eight points and ninth with 1.0 points per game. Smith also ranks tied for first in assists (4) and is tied for first with teammate Carlos Benavides in assists per game (0.50). In net, goalkeeper Michael Abalos is fifth with a .750 save percentage and tied for second with 30 saves and a 4.29 saves per game average. Statistics are accurate as of September 26.

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 played host to No. 2 Akron on Sept. 3 and SMU on Sept. 23, and will face UC Irvine on Oct. 26 and UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 1. The Matadors will also travel to cross-town rival UCLA on Oct. 22.

Nifty at Fifty

With his victory over Cal State Fullerton on October 2nd, 2010, CSUN head coach Terry Davila became just the third head coach to win 50 or more Big West Conference matches. UC Santa Barbara's Tim Vom Steeg is the only other coach with 50 or more Big West victories to his credit.

Keep Your Heads on a Swivel

Last year, the Matador set their season team-highs in shots taken and shots on goal against the UC Riverside Highlanders. In the 2009 conference-opening match in Riverside, CSUN fired 30 shots at the Highlander goalkeeper, 15 of which were on goal. In 2010, the Matadors nearly matched that mark as they blasted 28 shots at the Highlander net, including ten on goal in their only contest of the season, which took place in Northridge. CSUN tallied 24 shots in the season opener against Canisius on August 26, four less than 2010's season high.

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-plus seasons at Northridge. Abalos now owns eighth place with his 12 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.44 career goals against average, and is tied for fifth all-time with Jeff Blumkin (1986-89) with his nine 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.

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.

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.