NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The 24th-ranked CSUN men's soccer team was chosen to win the Big West Conference's South Division in the upcoming season in a preseason poll of the league's head coaches, the Big West announced Thursday. Senior forwards Edwin Rivas and Sagi Lev-Ari, along with junior defender Trevor Morley, were named to the Preseason All-Conference Team.
CSUN tops the preseason poll for the second consecutive season after winning 15 matches and earning the 15th National Seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Going into 2014, the Matadors know there is still work to be done in order to take the program further.
"It is nice to receive recognition from the other programs in our conference, but preseason predictions mean nothing in the long run," said CSUN head coach Terry Davila. "Our student-athletes and coaches know that the season ahead is what matters and we need to do what we can to reach the next level. There is a lot to prove."
The Matadors placed three on the Preseason All-Conference Team, which recognizes players that Big West coaches feel are among the top 11 in the league regardless of position. Lev-Ari, Morley and Rivas were all named to the 2013 All-Big West Teams at the end of last season, while Lev-Ari and Morley also earned a spot on the NSCAA All-Far West Region Teams.
The attacking duo of Lev-Ari and Rivas figures to be among the most lethal in the country heading into the starting season.
Lev-Ari is a preseason All-American and one of 32 players on the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Going into the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Lev-Ari was the nation's top scorer with 16 goals and 38 points. In 44 career matches at CSUN, Lev-Ari has scored 31 goals and amassed 68 points.
Rivas enters his final year with the Matadors after earning All-Big West honors in each of the last two seasons. In 2013 he scored four goals, three of which came during the Big West season, and added four assists for a total of 12 points. In three seasons at CSUN, Rivas has scored 17 goals and a total of 42 points.
Morley returns as a leader of the CSUN defense and has been a part of 30 victories in his two previous years. In addition to anchoring a stout back line for the Matadors, Morley has also recorded a pair of assists in his career. With Morley on defense, the Matadors have kept opponents without a goal in 16 matches.
CSUN took home six first-place votes in the poll for a total of 30 points. The Matadors were followed by UC Irvine (24), UC Riverside (14) and Cal State Fullerton (12) in the predicted finish of the South Division.
UC Santa Barbara picked up all eight first-place votes to finish atop the North Division. The Gauchos were followed by UC Davis (20), Cal Poly (19) and Sacramento State (9) in the poll.
The Matadors kick off the 2014 season with a road match at Denver on Friday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. (PT). CSUN will open up the home portion of the schedule on Friday, Sept. 12 against preseason-No. 5 New Mexico at 7 p.m. (PT).