NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-6, 7-3 Big West) will host the Cal Poly Mustangs on Wednesday night at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge is competing in the Big West Conference Tournament for just the second time and the first postseason action of any kind since 2009. That season, the Matadors dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker in the Semifinal round at UC Santa Barbara. The tide has turned this year for the Matadors, however, as the program won the Big West Conference South Division with a 7-3 record and a mark of 13-6 overall. Northridge will host a Big West Semifinal for the first time and enter the tournament looking for the team's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2005.
Tickets for Wednesday's match are $10 for general admission and $5 for students. The match will feature a live audio broadcast with Geoff Herberg handling play-by-play duties on GoMatadors.com. Fans can also access live stats coverage of the match by visiting the men's soccer schedule page on GoMatadors.com.
Match #20 - Big West Tournament Semifinal:
Matadors (13-6, 7-3 Big West) vs. Cal Poly (11-6-1, 6-3-1 Big West)
Wednesday, Nov. 7 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Links Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Geoff Herberg, Play-By-Play
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, including 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 Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for updates of matches in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
A Closer Look at Cal Poly
The Matadors and Mustangs will face each other in postseason play for the first time when they meet this Wednesday at Matador Soccer Field. Northridge leads the all-time series 26-15-9 and recorded a 1-0 victory at Spanos Stadium on October 5. Cal Poly has only lost once since that match, falling 3-2 to Sacramento State on October 27. The Mustangs (11-6-1, 6-3-1 Big West) are winners of their last two matches, each by a score of 1-0. They defeated UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara to climb the North Division standings and secure a postseason berth on the final day of the regular season.
Mac Pridham leads the Mustangs offensively with 11 goals and 23 points this season. He has one assist to his name and leads the Big West Conference with six game-winning strikes. Pridham has taken 55 shots this year and also leads the way with 27 shots on goal. Both George Malki and Chris Gaschen has 11 points during the regular season. Malki finished with four goals and three assists while Gaschen, the reigning Big West Offensive Player of the Week, has two goals and seven assists.
Wade Hamilton, the reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Week, will likely get the start in net for Cal Poly on Wednesday night. Hamilton is 5-4-1 with three shutouts on the season and has a 1.02 goals against average. Chase Hauser is another viable option in net, having started eight matches this year, but it has been Hamilton who has seen the bulk of the minutes recently. Hamilton has allowed 11 goals this year and has 43 saves to his name.
The Mustangs are 4-3-1 on the road this season. The last loss for Cal Poly away from home came on September 30 at UC Riverside.
Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors split their final two matches of the regular season at Matador Soccer Field last week. On Wednesday, Oct. 31, the Matadors avenged their 5-4 loss to the Cal State Fullerton Titans by earning a 1-0 shutout in front of the home crowd. Then on Saturday, Nov. 3, the team was unable to complete the season sweep of UC Irvine, falling 1-0 on Senior Night. With the win over the Titans, Northridge collected its conference-leading eighth shutout of the season and also won its seventh conference match for the first time since 2005.
Beto Velasquez was the hero for CSUN on Wednesday, bending in a free kick in the first half. In the 36th minute of play, Velasquez lined up over the ball on the top left side of the box and shot over the wall of defenders into the net. It would stand as the
game-winning goal and gave Velasquez his eighth goal of the year. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos made six saves in net to record his sixth shutout of the season, a figure that ranks atop the Big West Conference. Abalos's six saves were also the most he has made in a match this season.
On Saturday night the Matadors were unable to come up with a goal for just the third time this season. A goal for UC Irvine in the 67th minute was the only score of the match as the Anteaters avoided dropping both matches to CSUN this year. Prior to the match, the Matadors honored Abalos, Joe Franco, Armando Gutierrez, Yuval Barak, Jose Luis Garcia and Rene Anguiano as each senior laced up for his final regular season match at Matador Soccer Field.
Gearing Up for the Postseason
With a 2-1 win at UC Riverside on October 27, the Matadors clinched the Big West South Division and are heading to the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Big West Tournament gets underway at campus sites on Wednesday, Nov. 7. As the South Champions, the Matadors will host Cal Poly in a Big West Semifinal on Wednesday. For the Matadors to host the Big West Tournament Final, the squad would need to win the Big West Semifinal and have Cal State Fullerton defeat UC Davis on Wednesday afternoon. The Matadors are also looking to finish the season strong to build up their resume for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The NCAA selection show will be live streamed at NCAA.com on Monday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m. PT. Full postseason coverage, including links for Big West and NCAA Tournament broadcasts, will be posted when they become available at GoMatadors.com.
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 career at Northridge. Abalos is now tied for second with his 28 career victories, is sixth all-time with his 1.23 career goals against average and is second all-time with his 20 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 70 matches in goal are second on the all-time list. This season, Abalos has an 12-6 record with six shutouts and a 0.99 goals against average. For his performance in the regular season, Abalos was named to the All-Big West First Team and was recognized as the Big West Goalkeeper of the Year.
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. Heading into the postseason, Rivas has eight goals, three assists and 19 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. He scored the game-winning goal over Temple in a 2-1 win on September 16 and added an insurance goal against UC Davis on September 28 in a 2-0 win. He netted a pair of goals to lead CSUN to a 2-1 win and helped clinch the Big West South Division at UC Riverside on October 27. For his career, Rivas now has 13 goals, three assist and 29 points. For his performance in the regular season, Rivas was named to the All-Big West First Team.
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 two goals in wins over Army and San Diego and scored 21 seconds in to help CSUN defeat Cal Poly on the road on October 5. Lev-Ari currently leads the Big West and is 17th in the country with 12 goals scored. He is also second the conference lead with five game-winning goals. For his work in the regular season, Lev-Ari was named to the All-Big West Second Team.
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 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 eight assists and is fourth with a 0.47 assists per game average. For his work in the regular season, Benavides was named an All-Big West Honorable Mention.
Junior midfielder Beto Velasquez is a main cog of the Northridge offense and is third on the team with seven goals and 15 points. After transferring to CSUN from Virginia Tech, the Panorama City, Calif., native has helped Northridge to key victories in the team's quest to get back to the postseason. He scored the game-winning goal against American (8/26) as Northridge won the Wilson Titan Classic and also had the lone goal in CSUN's win at then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara (10/7). Velasquez scored the only goal of the match in CSUN's home contest against Cal State Fullerton, curling in a free kick in the first half to score the eventual game winner. For his work in the regular season, Velasquez was named to the All-Big West Second Team.
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. Rivas added another multi-point performance, scoring twice in a match for the first time in his career in a 2-1 win at UC Riverside (10/27).
Matadors in the Big West Top Ten
In the final conference rankings of the regular season, a number of Matadors found their way into the individual Top 10 lists for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas leads the conference in shots taken (69). He ranks among the leaders in points (T-3rd - 19), points per game (4th - 1.06), goals (T-3rd - 8) and goals per game (4th - 0.44). He also leads the league with 3.83 shots per game. Sagi Lev-Ari ranks second with 1.26 points per game and is third in the Big West with 55 shots taken. Lev-Ari is the league leader in points (24), goals (12) and goals per game (0.63). Beto Velasquez checks in at seventh with 17 points and is tied for third with eight goals. Carlos Benavides leads the Big West with eight assists and is fourth with 0.42 assists per game while David Turcios is fifth with six assists and Yuval Barak and Chris Smith and are tied for eighth with five. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks fourth in the conference in goals against average (0.99), fifth in save percentage (.746) and eighth in saves per game (2.94). He leads the league with 0.33 shutouts per game andsix shutouts. His 53 saves are fifth among all Big West goalkeepers. Stats are current as of November 5.
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field this season. In the team's matches to this point, 10 different players have scored a goal and 16 total Matadors have recorded at least one point. The team has put up 113 points thus far, good for second in 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 six forwards, five midfielders and five defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with 24. Edwin Rivas (19), Beto Velasquez (17), Jose Luis Garcia (4), Brian Behrad (7), Joe Franco (3), David Turcios (6), Chris Smith (7), Rene Anguiano (3), and Armando Gutierrez (2) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (7), Yuval Barak (5), Carlos Gonzalez (1), Christian Gonzalez Diaz (2), Trevor Morley (1) and Yarden Azulay (1) have earned assists. Lev-Ari has scored a goal in nine matches this year and leads the team with 12 goals.
The Matadors are back in the national rankings for the first time since the 2009 season. After splitting its two matches last week, Northridge is currently ranked 21st by Soccer America as of October 30, 30th by College Soccer News and 32nd by Top Drawer Soccer. The Matadors are receiving votes in polls by Soccer Times and the NSCAA, the official poll recognized by the NCAA, as of October 30. In the NSCAA's regional rankings, the Matadors are currently fourth in the Far West, the highest of any Big West team this week. CSUN is ranked 39th in the RPI as of November 5.
You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
With the regular season now at an end, the Matadors are second in the Big West Conference in shots taken (307) and lead in goals scored (37). CSUN is second in points (113), and goals per game (1.95). 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). Every Matador that has played in the field this season has recorded a shot and just under 40 percent of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded 217 total shots and 73 shots on goal, scoring 18 times. Northridge is 22nd in the NCAA in goals per game.
Getting the Job Done
Heading into the postseason, the Matadors are looking to build on exciting finishes they have put up thus far. 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. On October 7, the Matadors went in to Santa Barbara and came away with a 1-0 win over then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. It was the first win for CSUN at Harder Stadium since the 1999 season. On October 13, Northridge was able to score a golden goal in the 104th minute against UC Riverside to record the program's first home overtime win since 2009.
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. Noisemakers are only permitted at Big West matches and will not be allowed inside the venue during any potential NCAA Tournament match.
With the Big West Conference Tournament this week, ticket prices for Matador Soccer Field have been updated. As the match is part of the postseason and a conference-run event, all fans in attendance will need a ticket for admission, including students. For the Big West Tournament Semifinal on November 7, general admission tickets will be $10 while all student tickets are $5. All seniors 60 and older will also receive admission for $5.