ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -
After scoring a pair of first-half goals, the No. 11 Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-0-0) held on to upset the No. 9 New Mexico Lobos (3-1-1) by a score of 3-2 on Sunday night at the UNM Soccer Complex. The Matadors earned their first-ever victory over the Lobos in Albuquerque en route to claiming the title of the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational.
"We are honored to play New Mexico and beating them at their home field shows our team's character and skill," said Cal State Northridge head coach Terry Davila. "This isn't something that happens. You don't just go to New Mexico and win. They are consistently one of the best teams in the NCAA and their record at home is incredible."
Although the Matadors ended up with fewer shots (22-8), shots on goal (8-5) and corners (12-0) for the first time this season, the team was able to run the counter to perfection. Two of the three CSUN goals came against the run of play, catching the Lobos out of position.
"I thought our team did well on the counter and did a phenomenal job of absorbing their attacks and clearing our lines," added Davila. "We linked up well and were able to finish our chances, which is something we knew we had to do in order to compete tonight."
Northridge opened up the scoring in the 28th minute when David Turcios found himself with the ball in front of an open net. Sagi Lev-Ari started the play with a shot at the top of the box that was blocked by a defender right to Turcios on the left side. The midfielder easily sent his shot into the right side of the goal for his first tally of the year while Lev-Ari picked up his first career assist.
Just over seven minutes later, senior forward Brian Behrad added to his wondrous start of the season by slicing through the New Mexico defense. After creating a turnover near the midfield line, Behrad outran his defenders and placed a shot to the center of the goal past the UNM goalkeeper to give the Matadors a 2-0 lead at halftime.
New Mexico was able to halve the deficit in the 65th minute after being awarded a penalty for a foul in the box. Michael Calderon stepped to the spot and converted to the left side of the goal, just past the reach of CSUN goalkeeper Adam Hobbs.
The Matadors extended their lead back to two goals in the 71st minute thanks to a magnificent counter attack. With the Lobos sending men forward, the Matadors cleared the ball up the right side and had numbers. Carlos Benavides played the ball to Turcios, whose cross from the right side of the box was tapped in by Lev-Ari at the right post.
The Lobos would not be shut down, however, and once again pulled within a goal with just under a minute and a half remaining. James Wypych sent a hard shot that was saved by Hobbs but the rebound went right to Niko Hansen, who cleaned it up easily for the goal.
The final minute of play was frenzied, with attack after attack for New Mexico being turned away by the Matadors. With 20 seconds remaining, a cross into the box was caught by Hobbs with a Lobo flying toward him. A long punt ran off the rest of the clock for the Matadors, who won against the Lobos in New Mexico for the first time in eight tries all-time.
For their work in the Lobo Invitational, Lev-Ari was named the Offensive MVP and Trevor Morley was named Defensive MVP. Turcios and Benavides were also selected to the All-Tournament Team.
"Sometimes a win isn't pretty but with everything going against us in terms of the atmosphere and elevation, I am proud of our players for coming together and beating one of the top programs in the nation," concluded Davila.
Cal State Northridge improved to 6-0-0 for just the third time in history, joining the 1987 and 1979 teams in accomplishing the feat. The 1979 Matadors are currently the only squad to reach 7-0-0.
The Matadors will return home this week for matches against UNLV and UCLA, both part of CSUN Soccer Doubleheaders at Matador Soccer Field. The match against the Rebels is slated for Friday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. with the women's program facing Tulsa afterward. The Matadors will then take on rival UCLA at home on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. with the women's side challenging San Diego at 1 p.m.