NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
An early goal made all the difference as the No. 5 Cal State Northridge Matadors (12-3-1, 4-2-1 Big West) were defeated 1-0 by the UC Irvine Anteaters (9-4-3, 4-2-1 Big West) on Saturday night at Matador Soccer Field. Irvine's Mitchell Alvarez scored off a rebound in the 10th minute for the night's only goal.
The match took on a slow and methodical pace from the opening whistle as the teams worked to establish tempo early on. Four minutes in Marco Franco had a shot for UC Irvine that was saved by Northridge goalkeeper Adam Hobbs followed shortly after by a shot from CSUN's Edwin Rivas that was stopped by UCI's Michael Breslin.
The breakthrough came for the Anteaters in the 10th minute after Mats Bjurman started a scoring play with a well-taken shot from distance. Bjurman's attempt went past a jumping Hobbs and off the crossbar before falling to the feet of Alvarez, who tapped it in instantly as Hobbs was trying to recover.
Stevie Manios had a shot that was saved by Breslin in the 30th minute that nearly leveled the score and Marino Peixoto took a try three minutes later but was denied as well as the Matadors trailed at halftime for just the fourth time this year.
Northridge was held to just one shot attempt in the second half, a curling attempt from Carlos Benavides that missed finding the net by inches at the left post.
Overall, the Matadors were outshot on the night 13-6 and were held without a corner kick. With the defeat, CSUN now sits in a tie for first with UC Irvine in the Big West Conference's South Division at 13 points with three matches remaining.
The Matadors will play their final regular-season home match on Saturday, Nov. 2, against the UC Riverside Highlanders at 7 p.m. The match signifies Senior Night, where the four senior members of the team (Benavides, Chris Smith, Beto Velasquez and Brian Behrad) will be recognized before the start of the contest.
Cal State Northridge will clinch a bid to the Big West Conference Tournament with a win or draw against UCR next weekend.