Matadors Host Albany, Memphis at Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament This Weekend

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With the start of the 2013 soccer season fast approaching, the Cal State Northridge Matadors are preparing to host their biennial tournament at Matador Soccer Field. Previously known as the CSUN Labor Day Classic, the event has been renamed the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. Rossi competed for the Matadors from 2002-06 and his 74 career appearances rank 12th all-time in the CSUN record book. He lost his battle with cancer in 2011 at the age of 27. The Matadors will play host to Cal State Fullerton, Memphis and Albany over the Labor Day weekend. Cal State Fullerton will open the tournament against Memphis on Friday, Aug. 30 at 5:30 p.m., and CSUN will take on Albany immediately following. Then on Sunday, Sept. 1, Fullerton and Albany square off at 2 p.m. followed by Northridge and Memphis at 5 p.m. All four games of the tournament will feature live stats coverage on

Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected contests will also feature a free audio broadcast on For road games, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the soccer schedule page of Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) and the soccer-specific feed (@CSUNMensSoccer) for updates of games in progress and news and notes throughout the week.

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Match #1:
The University at Albany (0-0) at Cal State Northridge (0-0)

Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament - Tournament Central Page
Friday, Aug. 30 - approx. 7:30 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,800) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Links Available at
Audio: Link Available at

Match #2:
Memphis (0-0) at Cal State Northridge (0-0)

Sunday, Sept. 1 - 5 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,800) - Northridge, Calif.

Live Stats: Link Available at
Audio: Link Available at

Just a Quick Tuneup
Last weekend, the Matadors traveled down the 405 to Loyola Marymount University for an exhibition against the Lions. The match marked the first nighttime competition in the history of LMU's Sullivan Field, which Northridge went on to win 2-0. The two sides played a full 90 minutes, followed by a scheduled 30-minute overtime period. In the first half of play, freshman defender Pol Schonhofer Bartra curled home a magnificent free kick from outside of the box that bent over the wall of defenders on its way to the net.

Northridge added a second goal, which came in the overtime period, on a tap in by freshman Steven Manios. The play started with a long ball up the right side of the field to Brian Behrad. Behrad then sent a cross into the box where it eventually found Manios at the back post for an easy touch and goal. CSUN's defense held the Lions to one shot on goal all night. Freshman Damien Lewis recorded 75 minutes in net while Kevin Marquez saw a half in goal as well.

A Closer Look at The University at Albany
The University at Albany is looking to improve on a 6-11-1 season in 2013. The Great Danes went 3-4-0 in the America East Conference to finish fifth in the league. However, Albany returns 13 lettermen and nine starters from a year ago.

Midfielder Anthony Rozzano started every match for the Great Danes and led the team with eight points. He scored two goals and added four assists while leading the way with 24 shots. Forward Brandon Wilson was the leader in goals last year with three and had three game-winning strikes. Pomare Te Anau, Philip Persson and Kit Alexieff appeared in all 18 matches and had two goals apiece in 2012.

Junior goalkeeper Tim Allen started every match for the Great Danes and compiled a 1.36 goals against average. He recorded three shutouts and made a staggering 94 saves on the year.

The Great Danes were defeated on penalty kicks in the America East Tournament last season and are currently riding a two-match unbeaten streak. Albany will face Cal State Fullerton on September 1st in its other match of the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament.

A Closer Look at Memphis
The Memphis Tigers open their season on August 30th against Cal State Fullerton in the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament before facing the Matadors on September 1st. The Tigers went 8-7-3 last year and finished fourth with a 4-2-2 mark in Conference USA play. This season, Memphis joins the newly formed American Athletic Conference in the league's inaugural campaign.

Despite missing out on the NCAA Tournament last year, the Tigers return a strong core of players as 17 letterwinners are back on campus for another season. Forward Mark Sherrod is the top offensive weapon returning for the Tigers, having scored 12 goals in 2012. Sherrod finished second on the team with four assists and easily led the way with 28 points. Midfielder Liam Collins finished second with 11 points after tallying seven assists and two goals.

Goalkeeper Conor Hurley started and competed in 14 matches for Memphis last season and went 5-6-3. He recorded a pair of shutouts and ended the campaign with a 1.41 goals against average. Teammate Cody Uzcategui appeared in five matches with four starts and fared better with a 3-1-0 record. He allowed just four goals in over 400 minutes of action for a 0.90 GAA.

Striking Features
Redshirt junior Edwin Rivas is looking to build off of a highly successful sophomore campaign. In 2012, Rivas had eight goals, four assists and 20 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, four assists and 30 points.

Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari led the Big West and was 6th in the country with 15 goals scored last season. He also led the conference with seven game-winning goals. Lev-Ari made a statement in his first match in a Northridge uniform as well. 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. He followed that up with the game winner in CSUN's 2-0 win over Cal Poly in the Big West Tournament Semifinal and the 1-0 win in the tournament final at UC Davis. For his work, he was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player and earned a spot on multiple National Teams of the Week. Lev-Ari also scored CSUN's goal in the 2-1 loss to San Diego in the NCAA Tournament First Round.

Mr. Assist
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides looks to continue his reign as the top assist man in the Big West in his final year. After tying for the Big West Conference lead with eight assists and leading in assists per game (0.47) in 2011, he took home the top spot in those categories again last year. 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 (9/14) and had two in the Big West Semifinal win over Cal Poly (11/7). Benavides led the Big West with 10 assists and 0.48 assists per game. His 10 assists last year tied for ninth all-time for a single season at CSUN. During the preseason, Benavides was ranked 38th in Top Drawer Soccer's annual list of the Top 100 Men's College Soccer players.

The Valley's Own
Senior midfielder Beto Velasquez proved to be a main cog of the Northridge offense and was third on the team with eight goals and 17 points last season. After transferring to CSUN from Virginia Tech, the Panorama City, Calif., native helped Northridge to key victories in the team's quest to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2005. 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.

You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense this season. One of the top freshman in the conference a year ago, Morley is looking to lead the Matadors to another championship this season. In his first year with the team, Morley and his teammates recorded 10 shutouts and ranked 30th in the country with a 0.85 goals against average. The Matadors won seven of their final 10 matches, five of which were shutout victories. He recorded an assist in CSUN's win at UC Irvine for his first career point.

One Plus One is Three Or Four
Junior forward Edwin Rivas was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match last year when he accomplished the feat against Portland on August 24. Junior 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 2012, a number of Matadors found their way into the individual Top 10 lists for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas led the conference in shots taken (77). He ranked among the leaders in points (3rd - 20), points per game (T-3rd - 1.00), goals (T-3rd - 8) and goals per game (T-5th - 0.40). He also led the league with 3.85 shots per game. Sagi Lev-Ari ranked first with 1.33 points per game and was third in the Big West with 60 shots taken. Lev-Ari was the league leader in points (28), goals (14) and goals per game (0.67). Beto Velasquez checked in at seventh with 17 points and tied for third with eight goals. Carlos Benavides led the Big West with 10 assists and 0.48 assists per game while Chris Smith tied for third with seven assists, David Turcios tied for sixth with six and Yuval Barak tied for ninth with five. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranked first in the conference in goals against average (0.89), was fourth in save percentage (.775) and was seventh in saves per game (3.10). He led the league with 0.40 shutouts per game and eight shutouts. His 62 saves were fifth among all Big West goalkeepers heading into last year's NCAA Tournament.

Poll Position
The Matadors were picked to repeat as champions of the Big West South Division in a preseason poll of head coaches in the conference. Northridge, which won the regular season crown and the Big West Tournament title,received six first-place votes in the poll and 30 points overall. UC Irvine was picked second, followed by Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside in the division. In the North, the coaches tabbed UC Santa Barbara as favorites with five first-place votes. The Gauchos were followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly and Sacramento State. In addition to the preseason coaches poll, the Matadors are also receiving votes in polls by College Soccer News and the NSCAA.

Manufacturing Points
The Cal State Northridge Matadors saw production out of every position on the field in 2012. In the team's 22 matches last year, 11 different players scored a goal and 17 total Matadors recorded at least one point. The team put up 127 points to lead the Big West Conference while its opposition tallied just 57 points. 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 were six forwards, five midfielders and five defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with 30. Edwin Rivas (20), Beto Velasquez (17), Jose Luis Garcia (4), Brian Behrad (7), Joe Franco (3), David Turcios (8), Chris Smith (9), Carlos Gonzalez (3), Rene Anguiano (4), and Armando Gutierrez (2) all scored goals while Carlos Benavides (10), Yuval Barak (5), Christian Gonzalez Diaz (2), Trevor Morley (1) and Yarden Azulay (1) earned assists. Lev-Ari scored a goal in 12 matches last year and led the team with 15 goals. In CSUN's match against San Diego in the NCAA Tournament, goalkeeper Michael Abalos chipped in on offense as well, recording his first and only career assist.

Welcome to the Family
Cal Sate Northridge has a lot of new faces in the program this season as the Matadors hope to repeat in the Big West. Eleven new additions join five redshirt freshmen as players hoping to make their mark on the field this year. Northridge, which saw the graduation of three starting defenders and its starting goalkeeper, has recruited in a number of prospects that give the coaching staff multiple options all over the field. In all, CSUN has three first-year goalkeepers, nine new players that can line up on defense and four that can step in as midfielders or forwards. The Matadors also return their top seven point recorders from a year ago, including the top four in goals scored.

Getting the Job Done
The Matadors put up numerous exciting finishes this season on the way to the program's first NCAA berth since 2005. Following a 4-0 result against Portland to open the season, 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 was also 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. The team then defeated Cal Poly 2-0 in the Big West Semifinals and outlasted UC Davis 1-0 in the Final to capture the program's first Big West Tournament Championship in history.

Redefining The "Matador Defense"
This season the Matadors changed what it means to be guilty of playing a "Matador Defense." In 2012, Northridge recorded 10 shutouts after earning a total of eight in 2011. The Matadors won seven of their final 10 matches, five of which were shutouts. The Northridge defense allowed just 20 goals in 22 games last season and ranked 30th in the nation with a combined 0.85 goals against average going into the NCAA Tournament. While the team sees the departure of Big West Goalkeeper of the Year Michael Abalos, Big West Defensive Player of the Year Joe Franco and senior captain Yuval Barak due to graduation, the Mataadors are adding new faces and returning role players to the back line. With a strong group of upperclassmen in the midfield, the CSUN defense will have the leadership necessary to remain stingy in 2013.

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