Matadors Head to Grand Canyon State to Battle Sun Devils, Wildcats

Sept. 17, 2008

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

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The Cal State Northridge women's soccer team continues to pound the pavement this weekend, hitting the road for matches against Arizona State on Sept. 19 and Arizona on Sept. 21. Spurred by a balanced offensive attack that has produced eight different goal scorers, the Matadors (5-1-0) have also displayed a steadfast defensive backline, surrendering only six goals in the 2008 season.

For Northridge, the next victory will mark the program's 100th, a feat the staff and players are keenly hoping to accomplish on this trip.

"It is exciting to know we are close to accomplishing this mark," said head coach Keith West. "We are doing a great job in our preparation, focusing on shoring up our deficiencies and improving upon our strengths."

In action last week, Northridge traveled to Moraga, Calif., to participate in the Saint Mary's Fall Classic. In their first game, the Matadors tested No. 20 California before falling 1-0 in overtime. Two days later, CSUN prevailed 2-1 over Saint Mary's in match characterized by physical play. For their efforts in the tournament, sophomores Leah Elliott and Jasmine Pratt and freshman Nancy Avesyan earned all-tournament honors.

Against the Gaels, sophomore Farryn Townely scored the winning goal in the 81st minute, her third tally of the season. She now leads the team with the three scores and all of her scores have registered as the game-winning goal.

Tied with Townley for the team lead with sox points is a pair of seniors, Kristal Phillips and Tryna Tafoya. Both registered an assist in Moraga, moving Tafoya into second in school history with 11 career assists, while Phillips jumped into a five-way tie for sixth in school history with nine career helpers.

The other goal against Saint Mary's came off the foot of Avesyan. The score represented the first of her career and gave her five points for the season. She and fellow rookie Brielle Slepicoff lead both the team and the Big West Conference with three assists this season.

In net, Elliott continues to excel for the Matadors. Over the weekend, she recorded 15 saves, including a career-high eight stops against Cal, and improved her record to 5-1-0 on the season. She now ranks third in the league in both goals-against-average (0.96) and save percentage (.800).

On defense, senior Nalena Betancourt, junior Sydney Vermillion and sophomores Katie Fox and Pratt have started all six games thus far in 2008, giving Northridge consistency on defense. Fox saved Northridge against Saint Mary's, making a diving save on a Gaels' scoring attempt after Elliott had been taken out of the play.

Representing the second Pac 10 opponent for Northridge this season, ASU enters Friday's contest with a 3-2-2 overall record after defeating Baylor, 1-0, and tying Texas, 0-0, in its two matches last week.

Karin Volpe leads the Sun Devils with four goals and 10 points, though six other Sun Devils have found the back of the net also this season. Briana Silvestri and Katie Cochran have split time in net for ASU, with Silvestri posting three shutouts and a .923 save percentage. The Sun Devils won the only previous meeting between the two schools, 3-0, on Sept. 6, 1996.

The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 4-2 overall record. On Friday, Arizona will host the Michigan Wolverines on Sept. 19 before facing the Matadors.

In their past two matches, Arizona has faced a pair of Big 12 opponents, losing to Texas, 2-1 in double overtime, before defeating Texas Tech, 2-1. Against the Red Raiders, Renae Cuellar and Jacqueline Broussard each found the back of the net. Chelsea McIntyre started both games against the Texas schools in goal, making two saves against Texas and four against Texas Tech. The Wildcats and Matadors have never met on the soccer pitch.

Next week, CSUN returns to the friendly confines of Matador Soccer Field for a match against San Francisco. The Matadors and Dons will tangle on Sept. 28 at 1 p.m.