Oct. 7, 2008
Wednesday, October 8 at UC Santa Barbara, 7:00 p.m. (Harder Stadium)
RESULTS FROM LAST WEEK
Wednesday, October 1 at Creighton, L, 1-0 (2OT)
Sunday, October 5 vs. UC Riverside, W, 1-0
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - If history is any indication, this Wednesday's game between the Cal State Northridge Matadors (5-4-1, 1-0-0 Big West) and the #18 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (6-3-1, 1-0-0 Big West) might just determine who ends the season as Big West champions.
Since the Big West reinstated men's soccer in 2001, either the Matadors or the gauchos have won the conference championship, and at least one of the two teams has made an appearance in the NCAA tournament every year since then.
Even though the Gauchos have defeated the Matadors in the last three straight meetings between the two, both programs are more alike than many think.
Before losing the last three games, the Matadors owned a three game winning streak against their rivals on the coast. Both teams are currently tied for second in the Big West conference standings, and both teams have defeated one another 13 times (with four ties) in the previous 30 games between the two.
One big difference though, is the starting line-up that each respective coach will utilize in this pivotal contest.
In addition to losing two starters due to injury in the first game of the season, Matadors Head Coach Terry Davila will have two less weapons at his disposal on Wednesday as forward Camilo Rojas and midfielder Jeremy Hohn will miss the game due to red cards issued in last Sunday's game against UC Riverside.
As challenging as this situation may be, the Matadors will arrive at Harder Stadium possessing a conference-best .810 save percentage, and a goals against average of 0.77, second only to UC Davis by only seven one-hundredths of a percentage point.
The Matadors have given up a conference-low eight goals in the ten games played so far this season, a statistic that will be threatened throughout the entire game.
Gaucho forward Chris Pontius has already found the back of the net eight times, and has unleashed a conference-leading 49 shots throughout the season. If the Matadors want to escape Santa Barbara with a victory, their defense will need to minimize the number of scoring opportunities Pontuis creates.
In their first two games this season, the Gauchos have given up 20 goals to their opponents, more than twice the amount of goals Matador goalkeeper Kevin Guppy has retrieved from his goal.
Unfortunately, the Gauchos have also scored 21 goals of their own.
Both teams are coming off a victory in their respective conference-opening game, and look to stay atop the standings with another win.
The Matadors road trip continues next week as the team travels to south Orange County to face another nationally-ranked program, the UC Irvine Anteaters. This game will take place next Wednesday, October 15th, kick-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.