July 23, 2010
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Matches against last year's College Cup finalist, a cross-town rival, and nighttime competition for the first time at Matador Field highlight one of the most competitive schedules ever assembled during head coach Terry Davila's eleven-year tenure at Cal State Northridge.
This year, Northridge will compete against three West Coast Conference teams (San Diego, Loyola Marymount, and San Francisco) and two Pac-10 squads (Washington and UCLA), in addition to their ten games against their Big West brethren.
Known for competing in one of the most challenging and demanding conferences in Division-I soccer, the Matadors will compete against six teams in 2010 that earned a top-25 ranking last season.
Eleven of CSUN's 20 games this season will take place on the road, with the remaining eight games scheduled to take place at the newly renovated Matador Field. Kick-off for all but one home game will take place at 7:00 p.m., as CSUN's contest against Air Force will be the only match-up that takes place during daytime hours. Kick-off for that specific game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Teams traveling to the Valley this year include San Diego State (exhibition game) on Aug. 27, San Diego on Sept. 1, Air Force on Sept. 26, UC Davis on Oct. 9, Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 13, UC Irvine on Oct. 20, UCLA on Oct. 27, UC Riverside on Oct. 30, and Cal Poly on Nov. 6.
"Now we will have a chance to take the next step and incorporate the communities around Northridge on a deeper level and provide parents and their children with an opportunity to witness first-class soccer in a family-friendly environment," stated the reigning Big West Conference Coach of the Year.
Matador men's soccer fans will have their first opportunity to enjoy collegiate soccer at a more fan-friendly time of day when CSUN battles San Diego State in an exhibition contest on Aug. 27.
In 2009, every home game was scheduled during the middle of the afternoon, often in the sweltering temperatures that are common to various Valley communities during the late summer months.
After their final tune-up against the Aztecs, Northridge will officially begin their season five days later at home on Sep. 1 against the defending West Coast Conference champion San Diego Toreros.
This will be the second consecutive season that CSUN begins their slate of games against the Toreros, as the men in red were defeated in their season-opening game in San Diego last year.
Not only will the Matadors look avenge last season's loss in their 2010 season-opener, but the team will be competing in their first regular season game at night since moving from North Campus Stadium prior to the 2002 season.
A matinee game on the road against Loyola Marymount (Sept. 5, 4:00 p.m.) will not only serve the Matadors' first road game of the season, but also commence a six-game road trip that includes stops in Fullerton, Calif., Akron, Ohio, and San Francisco, Calif. before CSUN competes in their final game before the start of their conference schedule.
After their game against the Lions, Northridge will return to Cal State Fullerton and participate in the weekend-long tournament that will take place at Titan Stadium. Looking to win the tournament for the second time in the last three seasons, CSUN will face Washington (Sept. 10, 4:30 p.m.) and San Jose State (Sept. 12, 11:30 a.m.) during their stint in Orange County, games against teams they have not faced since the 2003 season.
As was the case last season, Northridge will travel out-of-state for their second, and final pre-season tournament, as they will compete against tournament host University of Akron (Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) and Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 19, 12:00 p.m. ET/9:00 a.m. PT) before ending their trip in Northern California against the University of San Francisco (Sept. 24, 7:00 p.m.).
"Akron is a top-quality program in Division-I soccer program, traveling to their place to compete against last year's College Cup finalist will be a great opportunity to show the country what Northridge soccer is all about," stated Davila. "That team won 26 straight games for a reason, and we're ready for the challenge."
Nearly all of the non-conference games on the schedule will take place before CSUN begins their quest to return to the Big West Postseason Tournament for the second straight season, the lone exception being one home game against the UCLA Bruins (Oct. 27)
After defeating their rivals from Westwood by a score of 3-0 when the teams last met at Matador Field in 2007, the Matadors fought their way to a 2-2 draw in their meeting at Drake Stadium the following year.
Were it not for a controversial call in the final moments of regulation that allowed the Bruins to tie the score at two apiece, Northridge would have secured their back-to-back-wins against one of the most successful programs in Division-I soccer. After a one-year hiatus, Northridge will look for their second straight win over the Bruins on Valley soil.
In addition to Big West home games against UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly, the Matadors will compete in five games on the road starting with their conference-opening game on Oct. 2 at Cal State Fullerton.
Kick-off for all Big West road games will take place at 7:00 p.m.
Besides their game at Fullerton, CSUN will also travel to Cal Poly (Oct. 6), UC Davis (Oct. 16), UC Santa Barbara in their only game of the season against the Gauchos (Oct. 23), and UC Irvine (Nov. 3).
After falling one point shy of postseason action in 2008, the Matadors were successfully able to break through and compete as one of four teams in the 2009 Big West Conference Men's Soccer Postseason Tournament with their 10-8-2 overall record and 5-4-1 conference mark.
Looking to not only replicate, but improve upon the results of last season, twelve letterwinners will return in 2010 in addition to another two redshirt freshmen who further developed their skill set under Davila's tutelage last season.
Even though there are no seniors on the roster, all six returning juniors have utilized their redshirt season. With an additional season to further hone their skills, add to their base of experiences, and further sharpen their leadership abilities, Matador soccer fans can expect to see the best of both worlds - a young and exuberant squad that also possesses a heightened level of discipline and maturity on the pitch.
After returning from a season-ending injury in the first half of the first game played in '08, midfielder Rafael Garcia returned to peak forms one of only a handful of players who competed in all 20 games last season.
Finishing with two goals and two assists in his freshman season, Garcia fueled a vicious Matador counterattack and helped facilitate an offense responsible for scoring 24 goals in '09.
Also returning to the pitch for Coach Davila after leading the team in scoring in '08 with seven goals is junior forward Camilo Rojas, and two All-Big West Conference recipients in sophomore midfielder Rene Anguiano and sophomore goalkeeper Michael Abalos.
Earning an assist on nearly one-fifth of all goals scored Anguiano capped a solid freshman season by competing in all but one game, finishing with five assists in his debut season at Northridge.
Also making a name for himself during his inaugural season between the pipes was Abalos as he finished the 2009 season with a 1.17 goals against average, stopped 60 shots, earned seven wins, and finished tied for the second-highest amount of shutouts amongst all Big West goalies with five.