NORTHRIDGE, Calif. –
After being defeated by the University of San Diego in the NCAA Tournament last season, the 25th-ranked Cal State Northridge Matadors (3-0-0) exacted revenge with a 2-1 victory over the Toreros (0-2-0) on Friday night at Matador Soccer Field. CSUN used two first-half goals to remain perfect through three matches for the first time since 2005.
The Matadors wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard, scoring on their first shot of the match in the sixth minute of play. After winning the ball in the midfield, Juan Samayoa passed to Beto Velasquez in the center of the pitch. Velasquez then chipped the ball over the top to Sagi Lev-Ari, whose first touch sent the ball past the San Diego goalkeeper and in for his fourth goal of the campaign.
The teams traded possession for much of the first half, with each registering four shots in the first 45 minutes. San Diego held the edge in corner kicks at 5-2, but it was Northridge that went into the halftime break with a two-goal lead thanks to a late strike from Brian Behrad in the 42nd minute.
Midfielder Steven Manios stole the ball from a Torero defender and sent a through ball reminiscent of Velasquez's setup earlier in the half. Behrad then latched on to the bouncing ball and sent a low shot past Michael D'Arrigo for his second goal of the year.
Although they went into the break down by two goals, the Toreros came out as the aggressors in the second half. Searching for goals to climb back into the match, San Diego midfielder Darragh Vieyra found the breakthrough in the 52nd minute.
After a loose ball was cleared out of the way by CSUN, Connor Brandt found Vieyra a long way from goal. Vierya then ripped a shot that snaked through the crowd in the box and into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Holding onto a one-goal lead, the Matadors cracked down defensively and made a pair of saves to preserve the victory. Cal State Northridge nearly increased its lead in the 60th minute, but D'Arrigo was up to the challenge and made a two saves in quick succession. Lev-Ari sent a header to the left post that was parried away and Manios' follow-up try from five yards out was pushed out for a corner kick.
Northridge goalkeeper Adam Hobbs made both of his saves in the match in the final six minutes. San Diego defender Julian Ringhof sent a header in that was caught in the 85th minute and another that was saved in the match's dying moments.
Overall the Matadors have won their first three matches of the season for the first time since 2005, when the squad won the Big West Conference championship. The 2005 Matadors opened the year unbeaten in four matches, going 3-0-1.
Cal State Northridge will close out its current four-match home stand on Sunday, Sept. 8, against Saint Mary's College. Kickoff between the Matadors and Gaels is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field.