Nov. 9, 2009
Wednesday, November 11: Matadors at #4 UC Santa Barbara, 7:00 P.M. (Harder Stadium) - Radio/GameTracker
LAST WEEK'S ACTION
Wednesday, November 4 vs. Cal State Fullerton, W, 1-0 (OT)
Saturday, November 7 at UC Irvine, W, 3-0
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - Apparently the two regular season games between the Cal State Northridge Matadors (10-7-2, 5-4-1 BWC) and the nationally-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (14-3-2, 8-1-1 BWC) were just the precursor for Wednesday's rubber match as an already heated rivalry will become even more intense now that each team has reached the playoffs.
Having earned its spot in the postseason with impressive back-to-back victories against Cal State Fullerton (1-0, OT) and #20 UC Irvine (3-0), Northridge will now face one of the toughest teams in the nation in the semifinal round of the Second Annual Big West Men's Soccer Postseason Tournament.
In the first meeting, CSUN was able to take twice as many shots as their opponents (18-9) and kept both Gaucho goalkeepers Sam Hayden and Trond Helge Takset on their toes as the duo needed to make a collective ten saves to keep UCSB in the match.
But it was a header by Matador forward Robert Pate that would prove to be the difference in the match as he beat Hayden to his left to score the only goal of the game and gave the Matadors the win.
It would be the only conference game that the Gauchos would lose all season. Eleven days later the Gauchos would exact revenge on their rivals as goals scored on a redirected shot and breakaway opportunity helped UCSB split the season series.
An experience-laden team will accompany Head Coach Terry Davila this Wednesday as ten seniors - Devin Deldo, Moy Gomez, Sunghyun Kim, Adrian Lopez, Pate, Milan Radovic, Dylan Riley, Ruben Rodriguez, and Cameron Sims look to extend their respective collegiate careers by defeating Santa Barbara once again this season.
To accomplish this, CSUN will need another solid performance on defense as the Gauchos carry ten different players, led by senior forward David Walker, who have scored for Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg this season.
In goal for UCSB will be junior goalkeeper Sam Hayden as he brings with him a conference-best 0.63 GAA, .846 save percentage, and 13 shutouts to the pitch against freshman 'keeper Michael Abalos, his 1.18 GAA and five shutouts.
Even though Abalos is only a freshman, his performance in goal for the Matadors has been anything but as he has successfully filled the void created by former All-Conference netminder Kevin Guppy who graduated last season.
With both teams possessing potent offenses, stingy defenses, and goalkeepers who can make the most difficult save look routine Wednesday's rubber match between the Matadors and the Gauchos has the potential to be one of the most competitive Big West game of the season.
The Matadors know they will be the underdogs when they travel to one of the most hostile crowds in the nation at Harder Stadium, and fully understand how challenging it will be to defeat the reigning Tournament champions on their own field in front of their own fans.
Ask anyone from Northridge, they would not want it any other way.
Matador soccer fans are asked to arrive early to secure their seats for this Wednesday's semifinal match-up between the Cal State Northridge Matadors and UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for college students with I.D. and seniors (55+), and $3 for children (4-13).
Fans who are unable to travel to Santa Barbara can still follow all of the action between the Matadors and Gauchos on GameTracker, or listen via online radio at www.GoMatadors.com.