NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors look to continue their success of late as they open up Big West Conference play this weekend at Matador Soccer Field. The Matadors host the UC Davis Aggies to get things started on Friday night at 7 p.m. before welcoming Big West newcomer Sacramento State on Sunday at 1 p.m. Northridge is 20-7-4 all-time in conference openers and brings a four-match winning streak into this weekend.
Both matches this week will feature live stats coverage and a free audio broadcast. Friday night against UC Davis is Red Rally Night with free T-shirts and vuvuzelas for the first 150 CSUN students with I.D. All related links for this weekend's matches are available at GoMatadors.com. Following the pair of matches, Northridge will travel up the coast to Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara next week.
Matadors (6-3-0) vs. UC Davis Aggies (2-3-4)
Friday, Sept. 28 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Geoff Herberg, Play-By-Play
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors
Matadors vs. Sacramento State Hornets (3-4-1)
Sunday, Sept. 30 - 1 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Geoff Herberg, Play-By-Play
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home matches this season will include live stats coverage and selected matches will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road contests related links to the game, inlcuding for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the match on the schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athetics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for updates of matches in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
A Closer Look at UC Davis
The Matadors remain at home this week and kick off the Big West Conference season against the UC Davis Aggies on Friday, Sept. 28. The Aggies enter the week with an overall record of 2-3-4 and are 0-1-4 on the road. UC Davis has wins over UNLV and then-No. 23 Tulsa and had a stretch of four consecutive road matches with a draw against then-No. 17 CSU Bakersfield, Air Force, Denver and San Francisco. The Aggies went 5-3-2 and finished third in the Big West in 2011.
Ryan Gross leads the Aggies offensively with two goals and a pair of assists for six points. Gross has netted one game winner for UC Davis and four of his seven shots this season have been on goal. Pat Reese is second on the team with two goals and four points while Matt Sheldon leads UC Davis with two assists on the year. Nine different Aggies have recorded a point this season.
Goalkeeper Omar Zeenni has appeared in all but one match for UC Davis and has a record of 2-2-4. He has compiled three shutouts to his credit and has allowed nine goals in 800 minutes of play. Zeenni has made 30 saves and has a goals against average of 1.01.
Following the match with the Matadors, the Aggies will travel to UC Irvine for a Sunday afternoon contest.
A Closer Look at Sacramento State
Following the match against UC Davis, the Matadors will welcome the newest soccer members of the conference when Sacramento State comes to Matador Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon. The Hornets enter the week at 3-4-1 and are 0-3-0 away from home. Sacramento State joins the Big West as an associate member in men's soccer this season after competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Hornets face UC Irvine on Friday.
Sacramento State has a pair of overtime wins against San Diego and UNLV and also has a victory over Seattle. Gabe Silveira leads the Hornets attack with three goals for six points. He has one game-winning goal and has converted on a penalty kick as well. Isaac Ikyurav and Chris Sandoval have two goals and two assists for six points as well.
Sacramento State has seen goals scored by five different players and four Hornets have recorded multiple assists so far this year.
Goalkeeper Bryan Oliver has appeared in seven out of eight matches this season and has a record of 3-3-1 with a pair of shutouts. He has allowed 11 goals in just over 656 minutes in goal for a goals against average of 1.51. Oliver has been credited with 39 saves and has a save percentage of .780. Following the trip to Southern California, the Hornets will return home to face Cal State Fullerton next Friday.
Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors continued their winning ways last week and earned a pair of shutout victories to close out the non-conference schedule. On Thursday, Sept. 20 Northridge stormed out to an early lead at San Diego thanks to two goals by Sagi Lev-Ari in the match's first 11 minutes. Beto Velasquez also scored twice in the match and Edwin Rivas tallied a goal of his own as the Matadors defeated the Toreros for the first time since 2004. In fact, prior to the match the Matadors had not scored a goal on San Diego since that 2004 victory.
Michael Abalos made four saves in the match and Luis Ayala-Padilla logged the final three minutes to preserve the combined shutout. Chris Smith was credited with two assists and David Turcios picked up the other for Northridge.
The Matadors returned home on Saturday, Sept. 22 to take on the Air Force Falcons in the team's final match before opening Big West play. Lev-Ari scored a goal off of a set piece in the 15th minute that stood as the game winner as Northridge recorded another clean sheet with a 2-0 victory. The goal for Lev-Ari was his conference-leading ninth of the season, a figure that ranks him third in the nation. Rivas scored his fifth goal of the year in the 81st minute to bring his career total to 10. Carlos Benavides sent a long ball up to Rivas on a counter attack and the forward dribbled up the left side before tucking a shot past the goalkeeper at the near-side post.
The Matadors have now won four matches in a row and look to carry their momentum into the first conference matches of the season this week.
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. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native earned a spot on four different lists with his numbers earned during his first three-plus seasons at Northridge. Abalos is now tied for fourth place with his 21 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.35 career goals against average and is second all-time with his 16 career shutouts. His seven clean sheets earned in 2011 are also the third-highest number of shutouts earned in a season, tying him with Jeff Blumkin (1988) and Mike Caputo (1986) and their respective single-season performances. His 60 matches in goal place him third on the all-time list. This season, Abalos has a 5-3 record with two shutouts and a 1.00 goals against average.
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. At the end of the non-conference slate, Rivas has five goals, an assist and 11 points. Rivas scored a goal and had an assist in Northridge's 4-0 win over Portland and scored the tying goal against American University in a 2-1 win. For his work over the first weekend, he was named the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic Offensive MVP and earned Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors as well. Most recently, he scored the game-winning goal over Temple in a 2-1 win on September 16. For his career, Rivas now has 10 goals, one assist and 21 points.
Everybody Needs a Little Lev-Ari
Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari made a statement in his first match in a Northridge uniform. In the Matadors' 4-0 victory over the Portland Pilots on August 24, Lev-Ari scored the first and last goals of the match to secure his first four points of the season. He became the first Matador with a multiple-goal match since Rafael Garcia put in two penalty kicks at UC Davis on September 28, 2011. On September 2 at Loyola University Maryland, Lev-Ari scored his third goal of the campaign off of a free kick. Jose Luis Garcia touched a short ball to Lev-Ari who fired in a lined shot from about 22 yards out. Lev-Ari also scored the lone CSUN goal at UNLV and had two in wins over Army and San Diego. Lev-Ari currently leads the Big West and sits third in the country with nine goals scored.
Junior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to help the Matadors find ways to score goals. After tying for the Big West Conference lead with eight assists and leading in assists per game (0.47), he is well on his way to taking home the top spot in those categories again this season. At the Wilson Titan Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton Benavides picked up two assists, one in each of the Matadors' victories over Portland (4-0) and American (2-1). He also notched a pair of assists in CSUN's 5-0 win over Army on September 14. Benavides currently leads the Big West with five assists and has a 0.56 assists per game average through nine matches.
One Plus One is Three or Four
Sophomore forward Edwin Rivas was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he accomplished the feat against Portland on August 24. Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari had two goals of his own in that match to record four points as each put up performances that are hard to come by. Lev-Ari followed up his display with another two-goal outing in a 5-0 win over Army (9/14) in Northridge's home opener and a pair of goals at San Diego (9/20). The forward scored the eventual game-winning goal in the sixth minute and added another in the 55th against Army and scored twice in the opening 10:27 against the Toreros to lead the Matadors to their largest margins of victory since a 6-1 win over Detroit on Aug. 31, 2007.
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
With the league schedule getting underway this week, a number of Matadors have jumped into the individual rankings for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas leads the conference in shots taken (39). He ranks among the leaders in points (T-3rd - 11), points per game (T-4th - 1.22), goals (T-3rd - 5) and goals per game (T-4th - 0.56). He also leads the league with 4.33 shots per game. Sagi Lev-Ari is ranked first with 2.00 points per game and is third in the Big West with 32 shots taken. Lev-Ari is the league leader in points (18), goals (9) and goals per game (1.00).
Beto Velasquez checks in tied for 4th in the conference with 21 shots, ties for third with 11 points and ties for third with third goals. Carlos Benavides lead the Big West with five assists and is first with 0.56 assists per game while teammate Yuval Barak, Chris Smith and David Turcios check in tied for fourth with three helpers. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks fifth in the conference in goals against average (1.00) and is sixth in both save percentage (.750) and saves per game (3.00). He ties for fifth with 0.25 shutouts per game and also ranks tied for fourth with two shutouts. His 24 overall saves are sixth among all Big West goalkeepers.
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field early in the season. In the team's first nine matches, six different players have scored a goal and 12 total Matadors have recorded at least one point. The team has put up 65 points thus far and leads the Big West Conference in that category. Each of the four goals against the Portland Pilots in the season-opening 4-0 win had an assist by a different player. Among the point scorers for Northridge are five forwards, three midfielders and two defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with 18. Edwin Rivas (11), Beto Velasquez (11), Jose Luis Garcia (3), Brian Behrad (3) and Joe Franco (2) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (5), Yuval Barak (3), Carlos Gonzalez (1), Christian Gonzalez Diaz (2), Chris Smith (3) and David Turcios (3) have earned assists. Lev-Ari has scored a goal in six matches this year and leads the team with nine goals. Rivas, Velasquez, Behrad and Garcia have each scored at least one goal and an assist this season.
You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
At the end of the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Matadors have taken 168 shots. Cal State Northridge leads the Big West Conference in shots taken, goals scored (22) and points (65), and ranks third in goals per game (2.44). Over Northridge's two matches against Army and Temple, the team took a combined 49 shots and scored seven goals. Their opposition took just 15 shots and scored once. The next match, Northridge erupted for five more goals at San Diego (9/20). Eighteen different Matadors have recorded a shot this season and just under 40 percent of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded just 97 total shots and 34 shots on goal, scoring eight times.
Of the 19 matches on the schedule this year, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will play just eight at Matador Soccer Field, including three non-conference matches in September. That may bode well for the Matadors, as the team had a record of 5-3-1 in road contests last season. This year, Northridge is 1-3-0 in road matches and 2-0-0 in neutral-site contests at the end of the non-conference slate. The Matadors have been solid at home, winning three matches and outscoring opponents 9-1 at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge will travel to face Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Riverside in Big West Conference play this season.
Getting the Job Done
Nearly halfway through the season, the Matadors have already put up a few exciting performances. Following a 4-0 result against Portland, Northridge found itself down a goal early in the second half against American. It was then that the Matadors rattled off two goals in a span of three minutes to take the lead for good and pick up their second win of the year. Northridge has also been impressive offensively in a pair of 5-0 victories at home against Army (9/14) and at San Diego (9/20). Prior to this season, the Matadors hadn't scored five goals in a match and hadn't won by a five-goal margin since winning 6-1 over Detroit in the team's home opener on August 31, 2007.
Quick Out of the Gates
Northridge is 22-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past two. Northridge cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. In addition, Cal State Northridge opened the schedule at a neutral site for the first time since the 2002 season when the Matadors competed in the LMU Tournament in Los Angeles. Northridge went on to play in the NCAA Tournament that season. Northridge is also 2-0 for the first time since the 2005 campaign. That team reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 26-9 in home openers after a 5-0 win over Army on September 14. They are 20-7-4 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 Matadors are now 8-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 3-0 on Sept. 28, 2011. 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.
Bring the Noise
Have a drum, cowbell, or other noisemaker lying around at home? Now is the time to bring it out and explore the space of Matador Soccer Field! In 2011, the Big West Conference office announced that all noisemakers, with the exceptions of airhorns and whistles, will be allowed at all conference matches and all home venues. 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.
Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $8, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $5. 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.