2008 Matador Men's Soccer Season in Review
Dec. 4, 2008
2008 Cal State Northridge Men's Soccer Photo Gallery
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
In a season rife with injuries, the Cal State Northridge Matadors displayed their talents, skills, and character against some of the elite soccer programs in the nation, and in the process crafted an 8-7-4 overall record. If the 2008 season is any indication, soccer fans can expect to see a potent mixture of talent, skills, and abilities focused on returning the Big West crown to its former home, and further enhancing CSUN's reputation as one of the most competitive programs in the nation.
The Matadors began the season on a high note as they traveled to Berkeley to face the nationally ranked California Golden Bears in an exhibition match-up. Junior forward Moy Gomez scored what would have been the fourth goal of his career in the 103rd minute, giving the Matadors a 1-0 victory heading into their season-opening game against the Georgetown Hoyas.
Looking to continue building upon the momentum created in Berkeley, CSUN played a solid game against the visiting Hoyas in their inaugural game of the season. Even though Northridge was successful in dictating the pace of play throughout the entire game, one unfortunate ricochet was all it took for the Hoyas to defeat the Matadors 1-0 as goalkeeper Kevin Guppy could not react quick enough to a shot that was unknowingly deflected off the back of a Hoya player who happened to be in the right place at the right time. With the goal, the Hoyas handed CSUN their first loss in a season-opening match since 1998.
The game was not the only thing the Matadors lost that afternoon, as two key starters, midfielders Devin Deldo and Rafael Garcia each suffered season-ending injuries only minutes into the season.
Coming off of a four goal, three assist performance during the 2007 campaign, Deldo was looking to improve on his performance from the previous season, and help the Matadors reach the playoffs in his final year with the team.
After earning All-Big West Conference Second Team honors during his freshman season, Garcia was also looking to improve upon his two goal, two assist performance the previous season and solidify his place as one of the best all-around midfielders within the Big West. Combined, the two scored more than one-fourth of the total goals (23) for CSUN in 2007, and would spend the entire season recuperating from their respective injuries.
The Matadors would need to re-organize and prepare for their next opponent quickly as CSUN welcomed Alabama A&M to Matador Field less than two days later. Senior defender Ben Cox scored the first goal of the season for the men in red, a shot that would provide all the necessary offense for Guppy and the rest of the Matador back-line in their first win of the season, a 2-0 effort over the Bulldogs.
Next up for CSUN were the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners, their opponents in the inaugural game of the 2008 Cal State Fullerton Tournament held at Titan Field. With the Roadrunners playing with one less man due to a red card ejection taking place only eight minutes into the contest, the Matadors were able to assert themselves on offense en route to a solid 3-0 victory, and a spot in the tournament finals against the UNLV Running Rebels.
In what would be their first of a number of games against a nationally-ranked opponent, Matador forwards Cameron Sims and Moy Gomez each recorded their second goal of the season in a 2-0 tournament-clinching victory over the Rebels.
During their weekend in Fullerton, the Matadors allowed zero goals, out-shot their opponents by a 25-14 margin, and in the process built a three-game winning streak as they prepared for their upcoming trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to participate in the 35th Annual Panther Classic.
Scheduled to face an all-Wisconsin opposition, the Matadors faced the Wisconsin Badgers in their first game of the tournament, out-shot their opponents by a 19-10 margin, but were unable to find the back of the net as two Badger goals would send the men in red to the consolation game against the host University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers two days later.
In a game played on a rain-soaked field, the Matadors ended on the wrong end of a 1-0 contest, as the Panthers were able to break through the inclement weather and the CSUN defense in the 82nd minute for the only tally of the game.
Visiting Matador Field with a five-game unbeaten streak of their own, the Sacramento State Hornets looked to take advantage of a team reeling from their two previous losses in Milwaukee; instead they faced a resilient squad that looked to re-establish themselves in front of their home crowd. A goal scored by Gomez was quickly answered by the Hornets, but it was sophomore forward Camilo Rojas who scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game, snapping their losing streak in the process.
A trip to Westwood awaited the Matadors as the Bruins looked to avenge their 3-1 loss from the previous season, and exact revenge in front of their own home crowd. Junior Sunghyun Kim and Gomez each scored for CSUN, as they were only minutes away from defeating the Bruins for the second straight season before a questionable penalty kick was awarded to UCLA in the final minutes of regulation.
With the Bruins converting the penalty kick, and evening the score at 2-2, both teams would battle throughout both overtime sessions, before heading home win one point apiece. As the Matadors prepared for their trip to Omaha, Nebraska to face the fifth-ranked Creighton Bluejays, they could find solace in the fact that they earned one point against one of the premier programs in the nation, and had an opportunity to showcase their talent across the country one they stepped onto the pitch at Creighton.
For 104 minutes, in front of a nationally televised audience, the Matadors held their own, on the road, against the fifth-ranked Bluejays. With one of their leading scorers out of action and recuperating from minor surgery, the Matadors were successfully able to create a number of scoring opportunities of their own, and forced the game to go into overtime with the score tied at 0-0 after regulation. Already on the receiving end of a questionable offsides call that negated a goal scored earlier in the game, the Matadors would experience a case of déjà vu with only minutes remaining in the second overtime.
For the second consecutive game, a penalty kick was awarded to their opponent on a questionable call; an opportunity that Creighton capitalized on for the victory. In back-to-back road games, against two of the toughest teams in the country, the Matadors had given their all, only to walk off the field disappointed. Even though Northridge lost the game, teams from across the country were able to watch first-hand and discover how dangerous the Matadors could be on both sides of the field.
After defeating UC Riverside at home in their conference-opener, the men in red embarked on another two-game road trip with stops scheduled at UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine. After coming from behind on two occasions to tie the Gauchos 2-2, the Matadors then headed south and battled the Anteaters for 110 minutes, before leaving Irvine with a scoreless tie. It would be the only scoreless game of the season for Irvine, a testament to the strength of the Matador defense, and the stellar play of their goaltender.
Playing in only their second home game in six weeks, Northridge looked to extend their three-game unbeaten streak against the Cal State Fullerton Titans. Down 2-1 with a little more than twenty minutes left in the game, Rojas scored his third and fourth goals of the season; the first finding the back of the net in the 82nd minute, with the latter scored on a breakaway thanks well-placed long ball from Kim with only :24 seconds remaining in double-overtime.
Fresh from their come-from-behind victory, the Matadors then traveled north to face the conference-leading UC Davis Aggies. With the winner solidifying their grip on first place, the Matadors looked to continue their performance from the previous game and extend their unbeaten streak in the process. After jumping to an early 1-0 lead only six minutes into the contest, the Aggies evened up everything five minutes later.
Having to play a man down for the remainder of the match due to a red card ejection, the Matadors fought their way through the Aggie defense as Kim collected his fourth goal of the season in the 24th minute, giving Northridge the lead once again.
Unfortunately the Aggies' man-advantage would prove to be CSUN's ultimate demise as Davis scored two goals within a five-minute time-span; the equalizing goal being scored in the 81st minute with the game-winning tally netted in the 86th minute. Even though the Matadors fought courageously, they were unable to even up the score and were defeated 3-2. It was the first time all season that the Matadors had scored two goals in a game, and lost.
At this point of the season, it was clear that five teams, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Cal Poly, and Northridge would be competing against one another for one of four available positions in the inaugural Big West Men's Soccer Postseason Tournament; having lost to UC Davis in their only match-up of the season, a strong performance against Cal Poly in the only game of the season between the two teams would enhance their chances of reaching the postseason.
Instead of separating themselves from one another in the standings, both teams battled to a 0-0 draw, and held their respective positions behind UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara.
After a 3-1 defeat at the hands of their rivals, UC Santa Barbara, the Matadors were in a position to still reach the postseason as long as they won each of their last three contests. A tie would place their postseason fate in the hands of others, while a loss would ensure all but an early end to CSUN's season.
After a come-from-behind 3-1 victory at UC Riverside, the Matadors showed the character of a champion in their next game at Cal State Fullerton, and gave their fans a glimpse of what to expect in future seasons.
With the Titans scoring two goals within six minutes, a courageous effort by Northridge was needed to keep their playoff hopes alive. After Sims scored his fourth goal of the season in the 53rd minute, CSUN began to establish their will on both sides of the ball, and once defender Ben Cox scored the equalizing goal in the 64th minute, the Matadors knew that victory was within its grasp.
Once Sims scored his fifth goal of the season, and second of the game, the Matadors could finally exhale and celebrate; for the second time this season the men in red had come-from-behind, fought back, and defeated the Titans on a goal scored late in the second overtime session, and in the process earned head coach Terry Davila his 100th career victory.
In one of the gutsiest performances of the season, the Matadors had placed themselves in a favorable position - a win in their final game of the season at home against UC Irvine guaranteed a spot in the postseason tournament playoffs. They controlled their postseason destiny, with everything riding on the results of their final home game of the season.
Senior Day would carry additional weight this season; even though Cox, Guppy, and Miller were playing in their final game at Matador Field, the Matadors knew that a solid performance against the Anteaters could extend their season, and the careers of their senior class. In previous games against nationally-ranked opponents, the Matadors had played brilliant soccer on both ends of the pitch; another similar performance, and nothing less, would be needed to gain the necessary points to earn one of the four coveted spots in the postseason tournament.
After a scoreless first half, the Matadors fell behind early, but evened everything up on Rojas' seventh goal of the season a few moments later at the 72nd minute. With momentum clearly on their side, Northridge continued to claw their way downfield in an attempt to score the deciding goal.
A deciding goal was eventually scored, however it originated off of an Irvine counterattack with less than three minutes remaining in the game; a shot that would prove to be the difference as the Matadors were defeated 2-1, finishing one point shy of the postseason, and a bittersweet end to the careers of the 2008 Senior Class.
For their accomplishments and achievements throughout the season, five Matadors received All-Big West Conference honors shortly after the season concluded. In addition to receiving Co-Goalkeeper of the Year honors, Guppy and Kim were named to the All-Big West First Team, defender Robert Pate, and Rojas were selected to the Second Team, while defender Chad Borak earned Honorable Mention.
After his four-goal performance during his inaugural season with Northridge, Rojas led the way for CSUN with his team-high seven goals, led the team in total shots taken with 49, and tied Kim for the team lead in total points with 17. In all, eight different players lit up the scoreboard for the Matadors, with ten difference players earning at least one assist this season, led by Kim and his total of seven.
In his final season at Northridge, Guppy started every game this season in goal, and in the process crafted a 1.12 goals against average, .783 save percentage, and added another six shutouts to his career total.
Already the Matador record-holder in a variety of categories including Matches in Goal with 79, Wins with 37, Shutouts with 27.5, Guppy's 290 total saves is the second-highest total of any Matador goalkeeper. Ranked fourth all-time in the Big West Conference with 24 shutouts, seventh all-time with a 0.99 goals against average, second all-time in the number of minutes played in goal with 7,469, 79 matches played in goal, and 38 total wins in goal, Guppy is one of the best netminders to ever take the field not only for Cal State Northridge, but for the Big West Conference as well.