SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -
Sagi Lev-Ari scored a goal 21 seconds into the match to lead the Cal State Northridge Matadors (8-4-0, 2-1-0 Big West) to a 1-0 win over the Cal Poly Mustangs (6-5-0, 1-2-0 Big West) on Friday night at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The goal was Lev-Ari's Big West Conference-leading 10th of the year and makes him the first Matador to score 10 or more in a season since Willie Sims (16) in 2004.
Lev-Ari put in his team-high fifth game-winning goal of the season almost immediately after the opening whistle by capitalizing on a Cal Poly error. The Matadors opened the match by sending a ball toward the Mustang defense and a pass was played back to goalkeeper Chase Hauser. Hauser took too strong of a first touch, however, and Lev-Ari was there to steal the ball and put in the easy score.
From that point forward the Matadors stretched the field offensively to try and double the lead, ultimately leading in shots 7-4 at halftime. Lev-Ari came close to scoring his second of the match in the 11th minute but was denied by the post.
Two of the Mustangs' four first-half shots were on target, forcing CSUN goalkeeper Michael Abalos to make a pair of key saves to preserve the lead. The senior added a save in the second half to earn his fourth shutout of the season.
The Northridge offense came out of the halftime break firing and took seven more shots before the night was through. Four of the seven in the second half were registered as shots on goal, all by a different player.
In addition to Lev-Ari, Rene Anguiano and Brian Behrad recorded three shots in the match to lead CSUN. Beto Velasquez, Armando Gutierrez and Carlos Benavides were credited with a shot on goal in the win.
The Northridge defense helped to limit Cal Poly throughout the match and only allowed nine shots and three shots on goal. The Matadors also won more corner kicks (7-5) and were whistled for fewer fouls (11-6) than the Mustangs.
The victory for CSUN was its sixth in the last seven matches and each of the last four Northridge wins have been shutouts. The Matadors now sit atop the Big West South Division with six points early in the conference season after losses by UC Riverside, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.
The Matadors will play next on Sunday, Oct. 7 at No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. Kickoff at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium is scheduled for 5 p.m.