November 22, 2013

No. 20 Matadors Battle Stanford for Spot in Sweet Sixteen

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

After earning the 15th overall seed, the No. 20 Cal State Northridge Matadors are in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and sixth overall. By being seeded, CSUN is in the Second Round of the tournament for the first time since 2005. That 2005 team advanced as far as the Sweet Sixteen, the furthest the Matadors have progressed in the DI postseason. In order to match the mark, Northridge will need to defeat a tough Stanford Cardinal squad that is coming off of a dramatic win in the First Round. The Cardinal defeated then-No. 5 California on the last day of the season before scoring the tying goal in the final minute against Loyola Marymount and advancing to the Second Round via penalty kicks. The Matadors are 1-4-1 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, defeating UC Santa Barbara at Matador Soccer Field in the Second Round in 2005. CSUN lost its only penalty shootout, at Florida International, in the Second Round in 2003.

Match #23:
#20 Cal State Northridge (15-6-1) vs. Stanford Cardinal (9-6-4)

NCAA Tournament Second Round
Sunday, Nov. 24 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,900) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats, Audio: Links Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page

Ticket Information
$10 - General Admission
$7 - CSUN Students*, Stanford Students*, Youth 17 & Under, Seniors 60+*, CSUN Alumni Association Members, Military (Current and Former)*, CSUN Faculty/Staff*
*-With I.D.

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
With the final regular-season matches this week, 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. In addition, the Matadors defeated eight non-conference opponents for the first time in the school's DI history.

A Closer Look at Stanford
The Stanford Cardinal enter the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament after having defeated Loyola Marymount in a penalty kick shootout on Thursday night. After playing to a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation the Cardinal won the spot-kick contest 3-2, but not without a bit of drama. Stanford scored the equalizer with just 17 seconds remaining in regulation before missing on their first two penalties in the shootout. After drawing level at 2-2 going into the fifth round, goalkeeper Drew Hutchins converted from the spot and saved the final LMU attempt to send the Cardinal to the Round of 32.

Stanford is led offensively by Zach Batteer, who scored the tying goal on Thursday night. Batteer has nine goals and three assists for 21 points on the season. Jordan Morris leads the squad with seven assists and adds six goals for a total of 19 points. Ten different Stanford players have recorded at least one point this season and six have come through with a game-winning goal for the Cardinal.

Hutchins has played every minute in net for the Cardinal this season and is responsible for the team's 8-6-4 overall record. He has allowed 24 goals in 19 matches and has a 1.20 goals against average going into Sunday's match. Hutchins has also made 59 saves and has a save percentage of .711 with four shutouts on the year. As a team, the Cardinal have allowed their opponents to fire off 210 shots, but just 83 shots on goal.

The winner of the match between CSUN and Stanford on Sunday will face the winner of the match between second-seeded Washington and Seattle. Should Washington win, the Sweet Sixteen match will be played at UW on Sunday, Dec. 1.

The Big West Conference Tournament
Cal State Northridge got off to a fine start in the Big West Conference Tournament with a 4-1 win over Cal Poly in the First Round on Tuesday night. Sagi Lev-Ari opened the scoring in the first minute of action as he tapped in from two yards away after a perfect cross was played in by Edwin Rivas. Brian Behrad gave the Matadors a 2-1 lead at the half with a penalty kick in the 45th minute and Lev-Ari scored again in the 62nd. Nicolas Camacho then finished off the frst goal of his collegiate career in the 71st minute to put the match away.

The Matadors then went up to Harder Stadium to face the No. 10 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, winners of the North Division. The Gauchos entered the match with an 11-match unbeaten streak, but Northridge was able to come from behind to knock off their rivals 3-2. Lev-Ari opened the scoring with a header in the 58th minute before a pair of UCSB goals put the hosts ahead with 19 minutes to play. Following a red card to a Gaucho, the Matadors were able to push forward and won a penalty kick that Lev-Ari converted in the 78th minute. The forward completed his second hat trick of the season after heading home another goal in the 83rd. Beto Velasquez picked up two assists to help CSUN book a spot in the tournament championship.

The team fell, however, to No. 18 UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament Final 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 22 matches, Behrad is second on the team with seven goals and also has four assists. 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 and he had the game-winning goal at UC Davis. In the Big West Tournament match against Cal Poly, he had the game-winning PK goal and an assist.

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 54 shots and is also among the team leaders with 20 shots on goal. He scored a goal at both Sacramento State and UC Davis as well. Against Cal Poly, Rivas had an assist on Sagi Lev-Ari's goal that tied the match before CSUN won 3-1. In the regular-season finale, Rivas scored CSUN's lone goal in the 12th minute after creating a turnover in the defensive zone. For his career, Rivas now has 17 goals, eight assists and 42 points.

Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi 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. He did it again at No. 10 UCSB in the Big West Tournament Semifinals. 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 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. He added a pair of assists at Sacramento State and had one against Cal Poly. In the Big West Tournament First Round match against the Mustangs, he added a pair of goals and is now the all-time leading scorer in the tournament's history with seven goals. Lev-Ari ranks first in the Big West with 16 goals and now has 31 goals and 68 points in 44 career matches for Northridge.

Mr. Assist
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to climb the all-time leaderboard in assists. 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 has 23 assists, tying for eighth all-time in CSUN history and tying for seventh in Big West history.

The Valley's Own
Senior midfielder Beto Velasquez recorded two assists against Albany on August 30th and currently leads the team in that category (9). Velasquez 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. In the overtime win against Cal State Fullerton, he scored a goal and added the game-winning assist just over a minute into the added period. At No. 10 UCSB in the Big West Tournament Semifinal, he had a pair of assists. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has 13 goals, 10 assists and 36 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 year, 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 year 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. Beto Velasquez did it with a goal and the game-winning assist in a win over Cal State Fullerton. Most recently, Lev-Ari had two goals and Behrad had a goal and an assist in the Big West Tournament First Round against Cal Poly and Lev-Ari recorded his second hat trick of the year, this time in the semifinal at No. 10 UC Santa Barbara. CSUN has had a player record at least three points in a game 13 times.

Poll Position
Cal State Northridge continues to cement its place in Top 25 polls after going 12-4-1 and starting the year with seven wins for only the second time in school history (1979). This week, the Matadors are ranked 20th by the NSCAA, 20th by College Soccer News, 23rd by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and 25th by Soccer America after beating Cal Poly and No. 10 UCSB in the Big West Tournament last week. The poll by Soccer Times was not released at the time of publishing. 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
Entering the postseason, the Matadors have solidified their place as one of the most prolific attacks in the country. Across the first two matches of the year 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. Fifteen different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Sagi Lev-Ari with a robust 38. Brian Behrad (seven goals, four assists) has 18 and Beto Velasquez (five goals, nine assists) is also among the team leaders with 19 points. Chris Smith (14) and Yarden Azulay (8) also find themselves on the scoresheet while Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points. Edwin Rivas (12), Steven Manios (4), David Turcios (11), Carlos Benavides (5), Juan Samayoa (3), Mynor Giron (5), Tanner Snedigar (2), Nicolas Camacho (2) and Trevor Morley (1) round out the list of point scorers for Northridge.

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 played 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, 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.