NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge men's soccer program continues to collect preseason accolades as five players were recently selected to College Sports Madness Preseason All-Big West Teams. In addition to sophomore forward Edwin Rivas and goalkeeper Michael Abalos, who were voted to the inaugural Preseason All-Big West Team by the league's head coaches, defender Yuval Barak and midfielders Yarden Azulay and Chris Smith earned a spot on one of the teams.
Rivas and Abalos were selected to the first team while Barak, Azulay and Smith picked up second team honors. With five Matadors selected, Cal State Northridge owned the most spots on the list and was the only Big West member with representation at each position.
Rivas, now in his second season with the program, scored five goals to tie for the team lead. His goal in the final minutes at then-No. 7 UCLA last season proved to be the game winner and gave Northridge its first ever victory at Drake Stadium.
Abalos collected seven shutouts in net for Northridge last year. He is now third all-time at CSUN with 14 career clean sheets and also ranks among the all-time leaders in goals against average (1.35), victories (16) and matches in goal (52).
Barak, a defender out of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a key part of the Northridge back line and has tallied two assists in his career for the Matadors. Azulay, a midfielder from Jordan Valley, Israel, finished third on the team in 2011 with 10 points. He collected two assists and added four goals last year, including the equalizer against then-No. 2 Akron while CSUN was playing a man down to send the match to overtime.
Smith finished second on the team last year with 11 points and averaged one point per game through the first eight contests. He ranked second on the team with seven assists and added two goals as well.
Of the five Matadors on the preseason list, Rivas and Abalos were the only to garner postseason recognition last year as both were named Big West Honorable Mentions.
Cal State Northridge opens up the 2012 regular season on Friday, August 24 in Fullerton, Calif. with a match against Portland University at 4:30 p.m.. The match is a part of the Cal State Fullerton Tournament and the Matadors will also play Sunday, August 26 against American University at 11:30 a.m.