September 25, 2013

Sixth-Ranked Matadors Visit Bradley In Lone Match This Week

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The No. 6 Cal State Northridge Matadors travel to the midwest to take on the Bradley Braves in the team's final non-conference match of the season. After going 1-1 last week, the Matadors are now ranked sixth in the nation by the NSCAA and will look to rebound after their first loss of the year. Northridge heads to Peoria, Ill. to take on the Braves for the first time in program history and can set a new CSUN record with a win on Saturday night.

The Matadors have never topped eight non-conference opponents in the same season in Division I soccer but can do so this week. The match at Shea Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT (5 p.m. PT) and will feature live stats, audio and video coverage (at a cost) courtesy of the Bradley Athletics Department. Following the clash against Bradley, the Matadors will remain on the road to battle Sacramento State and UC Davis to start Big West Conference play next weekend.

Match #9:
#6 Cal State Northridge (7-1) at Bradley (4-2-1)

Saturday, Sept. 28 - 7:00 p.m. (CT)/5:00 p.m. (PT)
Shea Stadium (1,700) - Peoria, Ill.
Live Stats and Audio: Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page
Video ($4.95): Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page

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 GoMatadors.com. For road games, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the men's soccer schedule page of GoMatadors.com. 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.

Take Your Seat In The Front Row
Fans can now follow all of the action for Cal State Northridge's 18 varsity sports right from their phone or tablet! CSUN Front Row, the official mobile app of Cal State Northridge Athletics, is available for free for your iOS and Android devices. You can also access live stats coverage of a majority of CSUN home events, as well as audio and video links when available. For more information, search for CSUN Front Row on the App Store or Google Play or visit GoMatadors.com/frontrow.

Adding Their Names To The Record Book
Despite suffering their first setback of the season last weekend to then-No. 11 UCLA, the Cal State Northridge Matadors have already accomplished a feat that the school hadn't seen since most of the players' parents were in college. CSUN opened the season with a string of seven consecutive victories for the first, and only, time since the 1979 season. In the process, the Matadors rose through the national rankings and were the third-ranked team in Division I. The ranking marked the first time that Cal State Northridge entered the Top 5 in the school's Division I history. At 7-1, the Matadors have also defeated seven non-conference opponents for the first time since 2003. The school record for non-conference victories in a season in Division I is seven, accomplished three times previously (1992, 2002, 2003). The Matadors did not play a conference schedule in 1998 and went 12-5.

A Closer Look At Bradley
The Bradley Braves enter the week with an overall record of 4-2-1 after tying Denver and defeating Air Force on the road last week. The Braves are 2-0 at home this year and do not have another match this week before hosting the Matadors on Saturday night. Bradley opened the season with 1-0 wins over New Hampshire and Massachusetts at home before playing their last five matches on the road. In addition to their results last week, the Braves also defeated then-No. 1 Connecticut in Storrs 1-0 on September 14th.

Alon Badat leads the Braves offensively with three goals and six points through seven matches. He is third on the team with 16 shots taken and has five shots on goal. Wojciech Wojcik leads the way with four assists and is the only Bradley player with more than one. He also has a goal to his credit and has tallied six points this year. Wojcik has a team-high 27 shots on the season as well.

Brian Billings has logged every minute in goal for the Braves this season and has made 36 saves. He has recorded four shutouts for the team and his nine goals allowed give him a 1.24 goals against average through seven matches. As a team, the Braves have scored one more goal than they've given up (10-9) and have recorded more total points (29-26). Bradley has been whistled for only 66 fouls and have been shown the yellow card on just four occasions.

Following the match against CSUN, the Braves will travel to Northwestern to face the Wildcats on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

A Look Ahead To The Big West Conference
Following this week's match at Bradley, the Matadors will begin the Big West Conference portion of their schedule. Looking to repeat as champions of both the South Division and the conference overall, the Matadors will open the league slate on the road. The schedule calls for inter-division matchups for the first two weeks of conference play before playing home-and-home series against division rivals. The Matadors will officially begin their title defense at Sacramento State next Friday before playing a rematch of the 2012 Big West Tournament Final at UC Davis on Sunday.

CSUN's Big West home opener comes against a familiar foe in UC Santa Barbara on October 11. Entering the week, the league's other seven programs have gone 25-18-8 to open the year. The South Division has had a slightly better non-conference schedule overall, going 18-8-4 compared to 14-11-4. UC Riverside is off to another fantastic start and is 5-0-2, entering the week as the only team without a loss in the Big West.

The Matadors have set themselves up in a prime position to tackle another challenging Big West Conference and earn a place in the Big West Tournament. A new format this season will see three teams from each division making the postseason tournament, up from two each last season. The top team in each division will receive a first-round bye.

I'm Not a Machine, I'm Just Brian
Senior forward Brian Behrad may not literally be a machine, but he has had a role in over a quarter of CSUN's goal output so far this season. Through eight matches, Behrad is second on the team with five goals and also has an assist. He scored both goals in the Matadors' 2-1 come-from-behind win over Saint Mary's, including a header with six seconds left in the first overtime to help CSUN to its fourth-straight win. For his work against San Diego and Saint Mary's (three goals, two game winners), Behrad was named the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week and earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week. Against then-No. 9 New Mexico, Behrad created a goal for himself by stealing the ball at midfield and outrunning the Lobo defense before beating the goalkeeper.

Striking Features
Redshirt junior Edwin Rivas started off the season by helping the Matadors win the championship at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. In the title game against Memphis on September 1st, Rivas' cross found Sagi Lev-Ari for a goal that tied the match at 1-1. Against Central Arkansas he sealed the victory with his first goal of the season, a strike in the 84th minute. He is currently second on the team with 26 shots and is also among the team leaders with 10 shots on goal. For his career, Rivas now has 14 goals, six assists and 34 points.

Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari is on a tear at the beginning of the 2013 campaign. Lev-Ari became the first Matador to record a hat trick since Willie Sims in 2005 when he netted three goals on September 1st against Memphis. For his work over the opening weekend, he was named to the National Team of the Week by both TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News. At the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational, he scored twice against Central Arkansas and added a goal and an assist in CSUN's historic win over New Mexico. He was named to the CSN National Team of the Week again for his work. His eight goals this season lead the Big West. Lev-Ari now has 23 goals and 47 points in 30 career matches for Northridge.

Mr. Assist
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides is on his way to becoming the Big West leader in assists for the third straight year. In the Matadors' 4-1 win over Memphis on September 1st, Benavides picked up a game-winning assist on the goal that put Northridge ahead 2-1. He also had the game-winning assist in the win at New Mexico. During the preseason, Benavides was ranked 38th in Top Drawer Soccer's annual list of the Top 100 Men's College Soccer players. For his career, Benavides currently ranks 10th in both Northridge Soccer and Big West Conference history with 20 assists.

The Valley's Own
Senior midfielder Beto Velasquez was dynamic in CSUN's two victories during the opening weekend. He recorded two assists against Albany on August 30th and currently leads the team in that category (4). A wing player for the Matadors, Velasquez was able to wear down the defense to help create chances for his teammates in front of goal. Velasquez has now scored a goal in back-to-back matches after striking against both UNLV and then-No. 11 UCLA. He added an assist in wins over San Diego and Saint Mary's as well. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has 10 goals, five assists and 25 points.

You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense this season. During the opening weekend of the season, Morley helped the Matadors record a shutout over Albany and a convincing win over Memphis. He had an assist against the Great Danes and was named to the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament's Best XI team. He also was named the Defensive MVP at the Lobo Invitational as the Matadors topped Central Arkansas and then-No. 9 New Mexico. For his work in Albuquerque, Morley earned a spot on TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Team of the Week.

One Plus One Is Three Or Four
Senior forward Brian Behrad was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he did so in the first match of the season against Albany. In the 68th minute, Behrad received a cross from the right side and bounced a header in over the goalkeeper's head. Just over a minute later, he created a turnover in the midfield and had a breakaway at goal. His initial shot was deflected by the goalkeeper to teammate Chris Smith, who slotted home a shot into the empty net. Sagi Lev-Ari was the first with a multi-goal game when he scored a hat trick against Memphis two days later. Behrad headed home a pair of goals to pick up four points in CSUN's 2-1 overtime win over Saint Mary's, while Lev-Ari had two goals against Central Arkansas and a goal and an assist at New Mexico.

Matadors In The Big West Top Ten
In the fourth Big West statistical standings release of the season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank at or near the top of numerous categories as a team and individually. The Matadors have fired off the most shots (137) so far and have tallied the most points (71). Through eight matches, Northridge's 22 goals are the most in the country and its 2.75 goals per game average is fifth in Division I. The Matadors are also the nation's leaders in assists (27) and assists per game (3.38). Defensively, CSUN is tied for fifth in the Big West with 11 goals allowed and sixth with a 1.36 goals against average.

Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 34 shots, 4.25 shots per game, and 15 points. He is also first in the conference with eight goals while teammate Brian Behrad is second with five. Edwin Rivas is second with 26 shots and Behrad is third in the league with 11 points. Chris Smith ties with Beto Velasquez as each is first in assists (4) and fifth in points (8). The pair's 0.50 assists per game average also puts them first in the Big West. Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks fifth in the conference with a 1.31 goals against average and is sixth with a .697 save percentage. Stats include matches through September 22, 2013.

Poll Position
Cal State Northridge continues to cement its place in Top 25 polls after going 7-1-0 and starting the year with seven wins for only the second time in school history (1979). This week, the Matadors are ranked 6th by the NSCAA, 7th by Soccer Times, 7th by College Soccer News, 11th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and 13th by Soccer America after going 1-1 last week. CSUN is ranked as the third-best team in the NSCAA's Far West Region, the highest of any Big West team this week. The team was also 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.

Manufacturing Points
Through the first month of the season, the Matadors have started racking up points on the offensive side of the game. Across the first two matches against Albany and Memphis, Cal State Northridge scored seven goals and tallied 10 assists while holding the opposition to just one goal and one assist. Thirteen different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Sagi Lev-Ari with 17. Brian Behrad is second on the team with 11. Chris Smith (8) and Yarden Azulay (6) also find themselves on the scoresheet. Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points while Beto Velasquez leads the team with four assists and has a pair of goals for eight points. Edwin Rivas (4), Steven Manios (3), David Turcios (4), Carlos Benavides (2), Juan Samayoa (2), Mynor Giron (3) and Trevor Morley (1) round out the list of point scorers for Northridge.

Quick Out of the Gates
Northridge is 23-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past three. Northridge took a 3-0 decision against Albany to open this season, cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic, and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. Northridge started the year 2-0 for the second time since the 2005 campaign and second year in a row. Both the 2005 and 2012 Matadors earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 27-9 in home openers after a win over Albany on August 30. They are 21-7-4 in conference season openers, and have only been defeated once in a Big West opener. CSUN has not lost a conference opener since 2002, when they were on the wrong side of a 2-1 decision against UC Irvine at home. The Matadors are now 9-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 2-0 on Sept. 28, 2012. The longest streak for conference opening wins in Matador history is 10 seasons, accomplished from 1978-87 under the direction of head coaches Zvi Friedman, Ric Fonseca and Marwan Ass'ad.

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.

Redefining The "Matador Defense"
The Cal State Northridge Matadors don't just let anyone compete on the team. A major requirement for each player is the ability to play a tough and aggressive style of defense at every position. In addition to the top defensive player in the Big West Conference last season, the Matadors also lost the league's top goalkeeper and two other defensive starters to graduation. However, the Matadors have not lost a step and are showing that they are still a dominate force on both sides of the ball. Sophomore center back Trevor Morley was named the Defensive MVP at both the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament to open the season and the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational. Forward Brian Behrad forced multiple turnovers in the midfield and sprung a run that led to a goal for Chris Smith against Albany in the season opener. In total, the Matadors held their opponents to just one goal on a combined 16 shots through the first two games of the year. The team conceded only five corner kicks and five shots on goal while posting a shutout and outscoring the opposition by six goals. In addition to playing stout defense, Morley was credited with an assist against Albany on a goal scored by fellow center back Pol Schonhofer Bartra.

We Must Protect This House
The Matadors have a healthy dose of home matches on the schedule this season, which should help the team make a run toward the postseason. Northridge plays just three matches away from Matador Soccer Field before the start of Big West play in October. In addition to a road match at Bradley next week, the Matadors competed in the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitaitonal hosted by the University of New Mexico. Northridge squared off against Central Arkansas in a neutral-site match before battling the UNM Lobos to conclude the tournament. Overall, CSUN will play seven true road matches and one at a neutral site out of the 19 matches on the ledger this season. Last season, Northridge went 7-3 in home matches.

Getting The Job Done
Since going 3-14-2 in the 2010 season, the Matadors have rebuilt the program and in turn have come away with impressive results along the way. In 2011, Northridge earned wins over No. 19 Cal State Fullerton and No. 7 UCLA while finishing 8-8-3. Last season, the team was impressive offensively in a pair of 5-0 victories at home against Army (9/14) and at San Diego (9/20). Prior to 2012, 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. Already this year, the team is off to a 6-0 start for just the third time in history and was able to exercise their demons by upsetting then-No. 9 New Mexico in Albuquerque for the first time ever.

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