NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
On Senior Night at Cal State Northridge, the No. 13 Matadors (12-4-1, 4-3-1 Big West) were topped by the visiting UC Riverside Highlanders (8-6-3, 3-4-1 Big West) 1-0 on Saturday night at Matador Soccer Field. After falling behind by a goal in the first half, the Matadors had numerous chances in the second half that just missed finding the back of the net.
"I thought we were unlucky losing the match tonight, but it was not for a lack of effort," said CSUN head coach Terry Davila. "A lack of quality, yes, but not a lack of effort."
Northridge started off the match in control of the tempo and registered the first two shots of the night, narrow misses by David Turcios and Patrick Hickman in the ninth and 10th minutes respectively. Running a counterattack, the Highlanders capitalized on their first shot of the contest.
In the 12th minute of play, Juan Mendoza received a pass on the right wing from Richie Osborne. As he was dribbling toward the endline inside of the box, Mendoza fired off a shot from a sharp angle that snuck into the top right corner of the goal.
At the halftime break, the Matadors found themselves down 1-0 but tied with the Highlanders at four shots apiece. The scoreline would've been even more in favor of UC Riverside had it not been for the mitts of CSUN goalkeeper Adam Hobbs, who made a leaping save near the left post in the 37th minute and the follow-up shot was blocked away by the defense.
Hobbs was called upon again shortly after the start of the second half and made another sprawling save, this time tipping the ball out for a corner kick in the 46th minute. After Northridge made five substitutions at once in the 59th minute, the tide seemed to be swaying in favor of the Matadors.
However, one save by UCR goalkeeper Ashkan Khosravi and several near misses would end up costing the home side a chance to earn a comeback. Shortly after the substitutions, Edwin Rivas had a shot in the box go just over the bar and his shot two minutes later met a similar fate.
Defender Shane Steffes tried his luck in the 67th minute but missed just wide. Two minutes later a shot by Juan Samayoa was saved and the follow up by Rivas went wide right. In the 80th minute, a blistering header by Brian Behrad off a corner from Chris Smith narrowly missed the right side of the net.
Northridge had a handful of opportunities down the stretch but were unable to find a breakthrough. Although the second half was played frenetically by both teams, the end of the match left much to be desired in terms of pacing and quality. A miscue by the Northridge defense in the 90th minute led to a sprint between Hobbs and a UCR player for a loose ball outside of the box. To keep the match at a one-goal margin, Hobbs played the ball with his hands and was shown the red card.
As time wound down in the match, Smith and Mendoza were shown the yellow card simultaneously for a skirmish following a CSUN clearance. In the end six cards were shown in the match, including three to each team.
With the defeat, the Matadors now find themselves in second place in the Big West Conference's South Division behind UC Irvine. Northridge trails the Anteaters by three points with two matches to play in the regular season and will head to Cal State Fullerton this Wednesday (Nov. 6, 7 p.m.) before finishing the year at UCI on Saturday (Nov. 9, 7 p.m.)