Rally Falls Just Short as Matadors Drop 3-2 Double Overtime Decision to #16 UC Santa Barbara

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After scoring with 72 seconds left in regulation to force overtime after being a man down for nearly 34 minutes, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (7-8-3, 3-4-2 Big West) fell to the No. 16 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (12-5-1, 5-4-0 Big West) 3-2 on Tuesday night at Matador Soccer Field. The loss came in the third straight double-overtime match for the Matadors, who earned draws against then-No. 9 UC Irvine and Cal Poly last week.

Northridge midfielder Rene Anguiano nearly scored the match's first goal under five minutes in but his shot was tipped over the crossbar and out of play by Gaucho goalkeeper Andre Grandt. It was UC Santa Barbara that struck first, however, with a low shot in the 17th minute.

Midfielder Josue Madueno received a through ball into the box from Sam Garza and shot the ball past Northridge goalkeeper Michael Abalos and into the bottom right corner of the net. His score put the Gauchos ahead 1-0 early.

In the 36th minute, the Matadors looked to have a chance on goal as defender Jeremy Hohn dribbled a long way up the left side looking for a cross to the middle. Hohn was fouled by UCSB's Rey Ezra-Simbwa, who received a yellow card on the play, and appeared to have hurt his leg. Hohn did not return to the match.

Northridge was able to find the net with 79 seconds to play in the first half after a world-class shot by Alberto Rosas. In the 44th minute of action defender Taylor Bowlin, who came on to replace Hohn, sent a cross in from the right side that deflected to Rosas at the top right of the box. Rosas one-timed a volley that dipped over Grandt and under the crossbar for his first goal of the season to level the match at one goal apiece at halftime.

The Matadors nearly took the lead in the early stages of the second half when Chris Smith redirected a header by Edwin Rivas. Rivas' shot hit the head of Smith and went straight toward the top right corner of the net, but Grandt was there to make another save and keep the match even.

Then, exactly 55 minutes into the match, Anguiano was whistled for a foul on a Gaucho player and subsequently sent off with a straight red card. The ejection forced the Matadors to play with a man down for the rest of the night.

From that point on, it appeared as though Abalos would dominate the highlight reel as the defending Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Week made save after save to keep Northridge in the match. He saved four shots in the next 20 minutes before the Gauchos broke the tie once more.

In the 77th minute of play, UCSB's Luis Silva lined up a free kick from roughly 45 yards out and shot the ball over everone and into the back of the net to put the Gauchos ahead 2-1.

The Matadors would not be put away though as they brought another player forward to try to even the score. With fresh legs waiting as four substitutes stood ready to enter the match, the seconds ticked away.

That is when a cross from junior co-captain Joe Franco from the right side found Thomas Ramos in the Box. Ramos flicked it to Yarden Azulay and the freshman headed it into the top right corner of the goal with 1:12 to play. After the dust settled, the match entered the overtime phase.

The Gauchos dominated the first overtime period in terms of shots taken (5-0), but Abalos made another important save and the rest missed the target. In the second overtime UC Santa Barbara nearly ended the match in the 106th minute but a kick save from Abalos as he went to the ground prevented the score.

The match ended unfavorably for the Matadors, however, as an own goal in the 110th minute put a stop to the action on the pitch. A shot for UC Santa Barbara was headed for goal when a Northridge defender attempted to clear the line after running back for it. His clearance ended up in the back of the net as he tried to get around the ball and the Gauchos escaped with a 3-2 victory.

Abalos made eight saves in defeat for the Matadors, one shy of his total from both matches a week ago. UC Santa Barbara had the edge in shots (26-14) and corner kicks (5-4). With the loss, the Matadors cannot make the postseason Big West Conference Tournament as they needed a victory to stay alive in the race.

Northridge will play its final match of the regular season on Saturday night against the Cal State Fullerton Titans at Titan Stadium at 7 p.m.

NOTES: Seniors Manabu Kaji, Jeremy Hohn, Nicholas Hamilton and Rafael Garcia were honored in a pregame ceremony on the field for their dedication to the men's soccer program during their respective careers. Yellow cards were shown to Rey Ezra-Simbwa (UCSB - 36'), Yarden Azulay (CSUN - 80) and Brian Behrad (CSUN - 97'). A red card was issued to Rene Anguiano (CSUN - 56').