August 19, 2009

Northridge Women's Soccer Opens Season with Pair of Matches in San Diego

Aug. 19, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team begins its 15th season of competition with a pair of road matches in San Diego. On Aug. 21, the Matadors will face No. 13 San Diego at 7 p.m. and then will face San Diego State on Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. Both games will be available live on gametracker.

Head Coach Keith West begins his fourth season with the Matadors and welcomes back five goal scorers from a 2008 squad that went 8-9-2 and 3-4-1 in the Big West Conference to finish fifth. He and his staff have also brought in a talented mixture of newcomers to the roster, highlighted by two Division I transfers, Niki Connolly and Megan Zahnow.

In net, junior Leah Elliott returns after starting all 19 matches in 2008 and finishing with 113 saves, the second-most in school history. On the backline, Northridge boasts three experienced players in Katie Fox, Jasmine Pratt and Sydney Vermillion who bring a combined 84 starts into the year.

Among the players at West's disposal in midfield are senior Kelley Ross, junior Sonia Espitia and sophomore Brielle Slepicoff. The three combined to make 35 starts and totaled six points on offense. The Matadors also return Nicole Cruz, Erin Kelly and Katie Coulas and welcome Melissa Fernandez, Zahnow, Ileana Galindo, Marisa Miller, Marie Hirsch and Stephanie Galarze to the mix.

Up top, junior Farryn Townley is the team's top returning scorer after netting four goals in 2008. Connolly, who transferred from UNLV, finished with four goals and six assists for the Rebels in 2008. Also expected to figure in for playing time are sophomores Heidi Farran and Alexis Barbará, who appeared in a total of 25 matches in 2008.

The Matadors face an early test in San Diego. The Toreros enter the contest ranked No. 13 in the initial NSCAA/adidas poll and San Diego State was picked fourth in the Mountain West Preseason Poll. The last time CSUN faced USD, the Toreros escaped with a 1-0 victory in San Diego on Sept. 28, 2007. Last year, Northridge opened the season with a 2-1, double-overtime victory against the Aztecs at Matador Soccer Field on Aug. 22, 2008.

Following the matches in San Diego, the Matadors return to the San Fernando Valley for their home opener on Aug. 27 when they face LMU at 5 p.m. On Aug. 29, Northridge hosts Oregon State at Matador Soccer Field for a 1 p.m. contest. Both games will be available on gametracker and CSUN students receive free admission all season with their student I.D.

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