October 2, 2013

No. 6 Matadors Open Big West Slate With Road Trip To State Capital

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NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

The No. 6 Cal State Northridge Matadors open up the Big West Conference season on the road when they travel to the state capital to face Sacramento State and UC Davis this week. Northridge is coming off of a dramatic 1-0 win on the road against Bradley and the team brings a conference-best 8-1-0 record into the contest with the Hornets. Tanner Snedigar scored his first career goal on a header with 62 seconds remaining to lead the Matadors to a 1-0 win over the Braves and the team's second shutout of the year. The scene shifts to Hornet Field this week as CSUN squares off against Sacramento State on Friday afternoon. The Matadors and Hornets have not played against one another in Sacramento in over a decade; Northridge took a 4-1 decision back in 2002. CSUN will then battle UC Davis in a rematch of the 2012 Big West Tournament Final on Sunday afternoon at Aggie Soccer Field. Both matches will include live stats coverage and the match against the Aggies will include an audio feed courtesy of KDVS.

Match #10:
#6 Cal State Northridge (8-1-0) at Sacramento State (2-3-3)

Friday, Oct. 4 - 4 p.m.
Hornet Field (1,500) - Sacramento, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page

Match #11:
#6 Cal State Northridge (8-1-0) at UC Davis (4-4-1)

Sunday, Oct. 6 - 3 p.m.
Aggie Soccer Field (1,000) - Davis, Calif.
Live Stats and Audio:
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
As the non-conference schedule closes, 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 8-1, the Matadors have also defeated eight non-conference opponents for the first time in the school's DI history.

A Closer Look At Sacramento State
The Sacramento State Hornets open the Big West Conference season with a record of 2-3-3. Last season, the Hornets finished the year at 8-8-2 overall and 5-4-1 in the Big West's North Division. Sacramento State opened the season with a double-overtime win over San Jose State on the road and most recently knocked off UNLV in overtime in Las Vegas.

Chimdum Mez has appeared in seven of eight games for the Hornets this season and leads the team with two goals, two assists and six points. He is responsible for both game-winning strikes for Sacramento State and is third on the squad with 14 shots and seven shots on goal. Isaac Ikyurav and Gabe Silveira each have a goal and an assist for three points and are also responsible for nearly half of the shots taken by the Hornets this year. Ivan Ramirez and Adan Martinez add an assist apiece to the scoresheet.

Cesar Castillo has logged the majority of minutes in goal for the Hornets this season and has a 2-3-3 record with three shutouts. He has a 1.27 goals against average and has made an astounding 53 saves in eight matches. Castillo turned away 10 shots on goal last weekend as Sacramento State defeated UNLV 1-0 in overtime.

As a team, the Hornets have been outscored 11-5 and doubled up on points 32-16. Cal State Northridge enters the match looking for revenge as Sacramento State took a win in double overtime at Matador Soccer Field in the programs' first meeting as members of the Big West Conference last season.

A Closer Look At UC Davis
Following the match at Sacramento State on Friday, the Matadors will remain in the area to take on the UC Davis Aggies in a rematch of the 2012 Big West Conference Tournament Final. On that day, the Matadors invaded Aggie Soccer Field and claimed the conference title with a 1-0 victory. UC Davis hosts UC Irvine this week before taking on the Matadors and are currently 4-4-1.

Most recently, the Aggies took a 2-1 upset win at then-No. 25 New Mexico last weekend. It was the first time UC Davis scored more than one goal in a match this year. Matt Sheldon leads the offense with three goals and six points while Ryan Gross adds a pair of goals and four points. Four different Aggies have recorded an assist and none of the four has a goal to his name.

Omar Zeenni has played every minute as the goalkeeper for the Aggies and has three shutouts to his credit. He has made 27 saves and has a goals against average of 0.87 through nine matches. UC Davis won each of his three shutouts by a score of 1-0. Prior to the season, the Aggies were picked to finish second in the Big West's North Division and earn a spot in the Big West Tournament. As a team, the Aggies have been outscored 8-6 and allow just over 10 shots per game to their opposition. They are 2-1 at home entering the week. Since the start of the 2011 season, UC Davis is 15-11 in games decided by one goal and 8-8 in matches that ended 1-0.

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 nine 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 31 shots and is also among the team leaders with 11 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 31 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. At Bradley, Velasquez earned a game-winning assist for a chip to Tanner Snedigar that was headed home in the 89th minute. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has 10 goals, six assists and 26 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 fifth 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 (152) so far and have tallied the second-most points (75). Through nine matches, Northridge's 23 goals and its 2.56 goals per game average are second in the league. The Matadors are the league leaders in assists (29) and assists per game (3.22). Defensively, CSUN is tied for fifth in the Big West with 11 goals allowed and a 1.21 goals against average.

Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 35 shots and 3.89 shots per game, and is second with 17 points. He is also tied for first in the conference with eight goals while teammate Brian Behrad is fourth with five. Edwin Rivas is second with 31 shots and Behrad is fourth in the league with 11 points. Beto Velasquez is second in the conference with five assists and sixth with nine points while Chris Smith ties for third in assists (4) and eighth in points (8). Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks fifth in the conference with a 1.16 goals against average and a .730 save percentage. Stats include matches through September 29, 2013.

Poll Position
Cal State Northridge continues to cement its place in Top 25 polls after going 8-1-0 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, 5th by Soccer Times, 5th by College Soccer News, 10th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and 10th 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. Fourteen 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 (7) 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 five assists and has a pair of goals for nine points. Edwin Rivas (4), Steven Manios (3), David Turcios (4), Carlos Benavides (2), Juan Samayoa (2), Mynor Giron (3), Tanner Snedigar (2) 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.

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 an 8-1 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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