Northridge Opens Big West Season with Road Tests at Pacific, UC Davis
Matadors Face Tigers, Aggies in Northern California
The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team (2-6-1) travels to Northern California to open its 2011 Big West Conference season with matches at Pacific and UC Davis. The Matadors, who were picked third in the league's preseason coaches poll, have had recent success against the Tigers and Aggies but must do so this year on their opponents' home field.
Last week, Northridge split a pair of contests against foes from the West Coast Conference. CSUN put together an impressive performance in defeating LMU, the program's first-ever victory at the home of the Lions. The Matadors got goals from Melissa Fernandez, Nicole Cruz and Katie Russ and Cynthia Jacobo made two saves to post her first shutout of the season.
Two days later, CSUN dropped a heartbreaker to No. 25 Portland, 1-0 in overtime. The Pilots scored just 28 seconds into the first overtime period to hand the Matadors their fourth 1-0 defeat of the 2011 season.
This week, CSUN meets up with a pair of surging squads in Pacific and UC Davis. The Tigers are 5-1 over their last six matches, out-scoring their opponents 14-1 in that span. Pacific is averaging an even 2.0 goals per game, the second-best figure in the conference, and are led by Kristina Wavomba's 16 points (seven goals, two assists). Angelica Figueroa has a team-high six assists while Laura Hogan and Alex Topp are tied for second with three goals thus far.
In net, Tashia Long has played all 900 minutes and owns a 1.20 goals-against-average and .785 save percentage. Northridge won its meeting with Pacific last season, 1-0, on a goal by former Matador Desiree Cardenas. The last time CSUN won in Stockton was during the 2003 season, edging Pacific 2-1.
On Sunday, the Matadors face the Aggies with a three-game winning streak in the series on the line. The Matadors scored a 2-1 decision last season on Fernandez's first career goal and took a 1-0 overtime victory in their last trip to Davis. UC Davis boasts lofty defensive statistics through its first nine games, sporting a league-best 0.67 GAA that ranks 28th among all Division-I schools. Goalkeeper Maria Magana owns a 0.56 GAA and five shutouts while playing the majority of minutes.
On offense, Allison Kelly leads the team with nine points thanks to three goals and three assists. Lisa Kemp is second on the squad with three goals, two assists and eight points. Lexi Poppoff leads the Aggies with five assists and Ashley Edwards and Kiele Argente each have two goals.
We Interrupt this Jets-Raiders Game...
Senior Heidi Farran picked up an assist on Melissa Fernandez's game-winning goal at LMU, her second of the season and third of her career. She leads the Matadors with eight points and three goals on the season. Farran earned all-tournament honors at the Boilermaker Challenge after scoring a goal against Purdue and finishing with a season-high six shots against Dayton. Farran is up to eight goals for her career, one shy of tying two former Matadors for ninth in school history. In CSUN's victory over Princeton, Farran scored goals in the fifth and 21st minutes. The multi-goal performance was the first by a Northridge player since the 2006 season.
Fernandez Finds Finishing Form
Junior Melissa Fernandez had a goal and an assist in the Matadors' 3-0 victory at LMU, her first career three-point performance. She tallied the game-winning strike in the first half on a nifty run through the middle and then added her team-leading third assist by driving a free kick that Katie Russ buried in the second half. Fernandez now has nine career assists, tied with four former Matadors for eighth in school history. She is tied for seventh in the league with the three assists and is also tied for eighth in the conference with 26 shots.
Jacobo & Myers
Junior Cynthia Jacobo made two saves in the Matadors' victory at LMU on Sept. 23 to post her first shutout of the season and 13th of her career. The win also marked her 18th career victory, tying her with April Cline for second in school history. For the season, Jacobo has a 1.47 GAA and a .629 save percentage while playing all but 36 minutes in CSUN's nine matches. She has earned All-Big West Second Team honors following each of the last two seasons and was Big West Freshman of the Year in 2009. Jacobo appears to save her best for the conference portion of the schedule, carrying a 10-3 record with nine shutouts and a 0.38 goals-against-average against league opposition in the regular season.
Brie All That You Can Brie
Senior Brielle Slepicoff had a goal and an assist in the Matadors' victory over Princeton. She provided the game-winning assist on Heidi Farran's goal in the 21st minute and then worked a nifty give-and-go with Amanda Smith in the second half to record her third career goal. One of the team's fastest players, Slepicoff earned All-Big West First Team and NSCAA All-West Region Second Team honors for her work on the defensive back line in 2010. She was also recognized for her work in the classroom, receiving NSCAA Academic All-West Region First Team honors as a biology major.
Junior Nicole Cruz made a triumphant return to the pitch by scoring her first career goal in the Matadors' victory at LMU. After sitting out the 2010 season, Cruz had not appeared in any matches until being called upon as a substitute in the first half against the Lions. She found the back of the net by sliding home a loose ball off a corner kick to give Northridge a 2-0 lead at the time. Two days later, Cruz nearly doubled her total but was denied at close range twice by the Portland goalkeeper.
Russ to the Rescue
Junior Katie Russ scored her first goal of the season and second of her career in the Matadors' victory at LMU. She collected a loose ball off a Melissa Fernandez free kick and blasted it into the far post. One of CSUN's most reliable defenders, Russ has started eight of nine matches for the Matadors at center back and is one of the team's top free kick specialists.
Lending a Helping Hand
Several Matadors have earned assists over the Matadors' past five games. Junior Stephanie Norton picked up her second assist of the season on Nicole Cruz's goal in the victory at LMU and had her first career assist at Texas. Senior Alexis Barbara also has two assists in 2011, picking up a helper on Melissa Fernandez's goal at LMU and adding the second of her career in the Matadors' draw with Purdue. Against Princeton, junior Marisa Miller recorded her second career helper on Heidi Farran's first goal and sophomore Amanda Smith registered her third career assist on Brielle Slepicoff's second half goal.
Finally, a Tie
The Matadors' 2-2 draw with Purdue on Sept. 9 was CSUN's first double-overtime tie with an opponent since a scoreless affair at UC Irvine on Oct. 23, 2008, a span of 49 matches. The Matadors went the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons without a draw. That is fewest draws among all Big West teams since the start of the 2009 season. In that span, UCR has recorded eight draws and Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara, Pacific and Cal State Fullerton all have six ties. In fact, the Matadors have only reached overtime on four occasions since the start of the 2009 campaign and are 1-2-1 in those games.
Good Things come in Twos and Threes
The Matadors have put together quite a record when they score two goals, posting a 20-1-1 mark in those contests since the start of the 2008 season. That record includes CSUN's 3-0 victory at LMU on Sept. 23, the program's first-ever victory at the home of the Lions. The only blemishes on the record are a 3-2 loss to UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 4, 2009 and a 2-2 draw with Purdue at the Boilermaker Challenge during the 2011 campaign. In fact, under Coach West, the Matadors are a perfect 13-0 when they score at least three goals in a match. Northridge's cumulative score in those 13 contests is 48-12. CSUN's last loss when scoring at least three goals came at UC Davis on October 16, 2005, when current Northridge men's soccer head coach Terry Davila was in charge of both programs.
CSUN Shines in Shootout
The Matadors got to participate in an exhibition shootout in their time at the Boilermaker Challenge. After managing a 2-2 draw with Purdue, the nature of the tournament stipulated that a winner be decided to see whom would advance to the championship match of the competition. In the event, Shannon Ward, Heidi Farran and Katie Russ all found the back of the net and Cynthia Jacobo made two saves to send the Matadors through, where they eventually lost 1-0 to Dayton. NCAA soccer does not start using shootouts to break ties until postseason tournaments and even then, if a game were to be decided by a penalty kick shootout, the game is still scored as a draw for both sides.
San Diego Match Cancelled
The Cal State Northridge women's soccer match against San Diego on October 16 has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled in the 2011 season.
Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $5, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $3. There is also a $3 discounted rate ticket for CSUN Faculty/Staff, Military Service Personnel and CSUN Alumni Association Members with their respective identification cards. CSUN students receive free admission to all home games with their CSUN I.D. Groups of 10 or more people may purchase $3 tickets, but tickets must be purchased a minimum of 24 hours in advance. For more information, call the A.S. Ticket Office at 818-677-2488.
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword
Since the start of the 2009 season, Northridge has played in 32 matches, out of a total of 50 (64%), that were decided by one goal, owning a 16-16 (.500) mark in those contests. In fact, 22 (44% of all games played since 2009) have been 1-0 affairs in which CSUN owns a 12-10 (.546) mark. However, Northridge has lost six of its last seven games that finished 1-0, including four such results in the 2011 campaign. Among Big West schools, the 22 1-0 contests are three more than the next squad, UC Riverside, while UC Irvine has played in a league-low 10 such results.