SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -
Beto Velasquez scored the game-winning goal in the 31st minute and goalkeeper Michael Abalos made four saves in net to help the Cal State Northridge Matadors (9-4-0, 3-1-0 Big West) to a 1-0 win against the No. 4 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (8-1-3, 2-1-1 Big West) on Sunday evening at Meredith Field at Harder Stadium. The victory was the first for Northridge at Santa Barbara since the 1999 season.
"No doubt about it, it is a big win for us," said Northridge head coach Terry Davila. "It is tough to get points at anybody's place in the Big West. It's that much tougher at Santa Barbara and we did a good job to close the match out tonight."
The Gauchos controlled the pace of the match early though only two shots were taken in the first 10 minutes, one for each side. Ema Boateng was the first UCSB player to test Abalos, who made his only save of the first half in the 17th minute.
Velasquez took the first shot on goal for the Matadors in the 23rd minute but his attempt was saved by goalkeeper Austin Mansker. Mansker made a total of three saves in the first half, also stopping shots by Rene Anguiano and Brian Behrad in quick succession.
It was Velasquez who ultimately broke through for the Matadors, scoring his sixth goal of the season to put Northridge ahead in the 31st minute. After receiving a pass from Carlos Benavides near midfield, Velasquez cut into the box to beat his defender and put a shot through Mansker's legs and into the net. The goal would stand up as his second game winner of the year.
The Matadors took the 1-0 lead into the halftime break and also held the edge in shots taken (7-5).
Abalos made three saves in the second half for the Matadors, none more crucial than one in the 86th minute. Josue Madueno's header was on its way to the goal before Abalos made the stop to preserve the lead.
A corner kick for the Gauchos in the 89th minute did not provide the needed result and the Matadors held on for the victory. Abalos earned his 24th win in goal for Northridge and his 19th career shutout.
"I thought we did very well all-around. We defended as a group and didn't allow plays behind us," added Davila. "We have a great back line and goalkeeper and our defenders are making it difficult on the opponents."
After finishing the week with road wins at Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara, the Matadors will return home for their next match on Saturday, Oct. 13 against UC Riverside. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.