October 15, 2011

Matadors Fall in Overtime 2-1 to UC Davis

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

After tying the match with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-6-1, 3-2-0 Big West) did not find the net again as they dropped a 2-1 decision in overtime to the UC Davis Aggies (5-6-2, 3-2-0 Big West) on Saturday night at Matador Soccer Field. UC Davis forward Matt Sheldon created a turnover inside the six-yard box and scored the winning goal just over three minutes into the first overtime period.

The result creates a three-way tie for second place in the Big West Conference as Northridge, UC Davis and Cal Poly all have nine points through five matches. UC Irvine (4-1-0 Big West) sits alone atop the standings with 12 points.

Looking to continue where they left off after defeating Cal Poly, 2-0, on Oct. 11, the Matadors started the match against the Aggies very aggressively, getting called for offsides in the second minute and earning a free kick in the attacking third in the fourth minute. Senior Rafael Garcia crossed the ball into the box, where UC Davis goalkeeper Omar Zeenni punched it out to Northridge's Brian Behrad. Behrad's subsequent header was blocked by a defender and cleared out of danger.

The first near-goal of the match came for the Matadors in the 19th minute when a line drive of a shot by Thomas Ramos was tipped by Zeenni into the right post. The rebound attempt by Edwin Rivas missed high of the net.

The Aggies had an attempt of their own in the 34th minute when a throw in went to Dan Reese in the box. Reese lined up a shot from the left side that rose toward the crossbar, but goalkeeper Michael Abalos jumped and punched it away for a save.

Garcia had another free kick opportunity in the 41st minute, but his curling shot over the wall from 30 yards out went wide left and the match remained scoreless at halftime.

Northridge continued its shooting ways early in the second half, as another free kick by Garcia was won. Garcia shot the ball from the set piece on goal, but it went straight to Zeenni for an easy save.

In the 54th minute of play, defender Joe Franco for Northridge carried the ball up the right side of the field and crossed it to Behrad, who was able to put a diving head to the ball but it, too, was saved. In all, Zeenni had four saves in the second half.

The first goal of the match was scored by UC Davis' Matt Sheldon in the 72nd minute on a counter attack. Reese was able to steal the ball before midfield and slotted a pass forward to Sheldon, who put it over the left shoulder of Abalos into the net for his first goal of the season.

Northridge would answer, however, just seven minutes later when Rivas netted his fourth goal of the year. Off of a corner kick, Yarden Azulay was able to get a touch to Chris Smith, whose deflection found Rivas alone in front of the goal. He was able to get the ball on the left side of the net and put it behind Zeenni to tie the match at one goal apiece.

With the score even, both teams attempted a final run at the goal but it was only Northridge that put up shots as two more in the final two minutes missed the mark. John Joslin for UC Davis was shown a yellow card for dissent in the 85th minute of action after arguing with the referee on what he thought should have been a foul. 

With neither team ahead after 90 minutes, the two sides entered the first of two overtime periods. Behrad took a shot for Northridge just 23 seconds into extra time but missed wide right.

In the 93rd minute, Joslin had a shot on goal that was saved by Abalos, but was fumbled in front of the goal. Nobody was there for the Aggies to clean up the shot and the match continued. However, it was just 26 seconds later that UC Davis was able to find the goal and end the match.

A throw in landed in the box and a Northridge defender was unable to clear it, allowing Sheldon to steal the ball and put back the easy shot for the deciding goal and his second of the evening.

Zeenni was credited with five saves on the evening for UC Davis. Abalos made two saves for the Matadors in defeat.

Northridge returns to action on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at UC Riverside as it tries to create some separation in the Big West Standings. On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Matadors will play a non-conference contest at UCLA. Both matches are slated for a 7 p.m. start.