NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
With the 2012 NCAA Division I men's soccer season now at a close, three Cal State Northridge Matadors were named to the Continental Tires All-Far West Region Teams by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the NSCAA announced Sunday night. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos was named to the First Team while defender Joe Franco and forward Sagi Lev-Ari picked up Second Team honors.
The Matadors placed members of the men's soccer program on the All-Far West Teams for the first time since Sunghyun Kim was named to the Second Team in 2008. Abalos is the first Northridge player selected to the First Team since Willie Sims earned back-to-back honors in 2004 and 2005.
"We had success on the field this season because of how everyone on the team worked together," said Northridge head coach Terry Davila, who was named the Big West and NSCAA Far West Region Coach of the Year this season. "With Joe's leadership, Mike's goalkeeping ability and Sagi's goal total we were able to rise to the occasion and have one of the best years for us on record."
Abalos adds the award to his collection to wrap up a brilliant career with the Matadors. The senior finished his time at Northridge ranked in numerous Top 10 lists in the school record book. He ranks second all-time with 30 career victories, 22 shutouts and 73 matches in goal, third in career saves (268) and sixth in goals against average (1.23).
"It is awesome for our program to get this recognition," said Abalos. "Cal State Northridge soccer is on the rise again and it is great to be a part of this resurgence and be able to leave my mark on the program. I am happy for Sagi and Joe as well and these honors are just the icing on top of a wonderful season."
Abalos compiled a 14-7 record with eight shutouts and a 0.93 GAA in 2012. His 14 wins tied for third-most all-time for a single season while his shutouts ranked second and his goals against average ranked seventh. At the conclusion of this season, Abalos was named the Big West Conference Goalkeeper of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Big West First Team.
"Mike is an outstanding goalkeeper, teammate and person," added Davila. "He deserves this honor and so much more. He will go down as one of the greatest players in Northridge history."
As a senior captain on the team, Franco started every match he appeared in during his career with the Matadors. In 2012 Franco had a goal and an assist for three points on his way to being named the Big West Conference Defender of the Year, the first such award for Cal State Northridge since 2003.
"Everything that Joe has brought to our program both internally and externally has helped us grow exponentially," said Davila. "With everything that he has done for us on and off the field I believe he should have been on the First Team."
In his time at CSUN Franco helped the Matadors to numerous high-profile victories, including a 1-0 shutout at then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara earlier this season. He had an assist in Northridge's win at then-No. 7 UC Irvine in 2010 and another in CSUN's upset of then-No. 7 UCLA in 2011, both coming on the road.
"It feels good to get this recognition and it is a huge honor," said Franco. "This is a team sport and without our teammates I don't think we would've gotten this recognition. It is bittersweet to look back on this successful season that ended with a Big West championship and know that it is time to move on in my career."
Franco was the leader on the Northridge back line that recorded 10 shutouts this season, the most in the Big West Conference. As a team, the Matadors ranked 19th in the country in shutout percentage (0.45) and 38th in team goals against average (0.89).
Lev-Ari earned a spot on the All-Far West Second Team after taking the region by storm in his first year with the program. Lev-Ari scored 15 goals this season, the eighth-most in the country and tied for the best in the region.
"Sagi has been great for us in terms of production and he is also an asset in building the quality of student-athletes here at Northridge," said Davila. "Had a terrific offensive season that will hold up as one of the best ever for our program."
Lev-Ari led the Matadors and the Big West Conference with 30 points and seven game-winning goals. For his work in 2012, he was named to the All-Big West Second Team.
He scored a goal in each of CSUN's final three games of the year, helping the team win the Big West Tournament for the first time in school history and the league championship for the first time since 2005. With two goals in the Big West Tournament, Lev-Ari was named the tournament MVP.
"I'm happy for the team as a whole because I wouldn't have gotten this honor without them and the coaching staff," said Lev-Ari. "Receiving this recognition is great for me and the program and the most important thing is to keep going and get farther in the NCAA Tournament next season."