IRVINE, Calif. -
Needing to win by a pair of goals to overtake the top spot in the Big West Conference's South Division, the No. 20 Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-5-1, 5-4-1 Big West) were beaten 2-1 by the No. 24 UC Irvine Anteaters (12-4-3, 7-2-1 Big West) on Saturday night at Anteater Stadium. With the defeat, the Matadors will be the #2 seed out of the South Division and host North #3 Cal Poly on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at Matador Soccer Field.
Northridge entered the night with a chance to upend the Anteaters from their perch, but needed to win by at least two goals to claim a share of the division title and win the tiebreaker with UC Irvine. Edwin Rivas helped the Matadors get a start on the difficult road with a goal in the 12th minute.
After stealing the ball from the Anteaters defense, Rivas dribbled up the left side of the field and placed a shot between the goalkeeper and the left post for his fourth goal of the season.
Needing to ensure that the goal margin did not get any worse, the Anteaters played more defensively and were able to catch the Matadors with a pair of set pieces to take a 2-1 lead at halftime. Thomas Janjigian set up both goals from corner kicks for UCI, first finding Cameron Iwasa's head in the 30th before connecting with Bryan Breslin in the 42nd for the eventual game winning-goal.
Coming out of the halftime break, the Matadors would have needed to score three goals in order to win a potential tiebreaker with the Anteaters. Northridge came out quickly in the second half and had three corner kicks of their own in the first three minutes, but the results were not there.
In the second half, the Matadors forced UC Irvine goalkeeper Michael Breslin to make all three of his saves on the night. However, two of CSUN's shots on goal did not come until the 89th minute when David Turcios had a pair of attempts kept out.
Despite losing to the Anteaters, the Matadors still have a world to play for ahead of them as the Big West Conference Tournament begins next week. Northridge, the defending champions, will host Cal Poly on Tuesday night for the right to play at North #1 seed UC Santa Barbara in the semifinal on Friday, Nov. 15. The Big West Tournament Final is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 17.
Kickoff between CSUN and Cal Poly, who met last year in the semifinal round of the conference tournament, is slated for 7 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field.