2009 Matador Women's Soccer Year in Review

Dec. 15, 2009

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -

2009 Year in Review Photo Gallery

The Cal State Northridge women's soccer program enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in school history, ending the year with the second-best record in the Big West Conference at 6-2 and an overall record of 10-10. With a young but talented roster, the Matadors achieved new highs in 2009, culminating in the program's first home playoff game in school history.

Picked to finish fifth in the Big West Conference Head Coaches' Preseason Poll, fourth-year Head Coach Keith West would lead a roster of only three seniors into a season filled with exciting highs, new school records, outstanding performances and unforgettable victories.

The Matadors opened their season with a pair of road tests on the campuses of San Diego and San Diego State, a pair of eventual NCAA Tournament participants. After CSUN dropped their opening contest, 3-0, against the nationally ranked Toreros, the Matadors would quickly rebound two days later with a 3-1 victory over the Aztecs. Sophomore Heidi Farran, senior Niki Connolly and junior Sonia Espitia all collected the first goals of their respective Matador careers.

Following the road trip, Northridge geared up for their home opener against Loyola Marymount at Matador Soccer Field. With three second half goals, CSUN defeated LMU 3-0, for their first shutout win of the season. Espitia and Connolly each racked up their second goals of young season in the win, with junior Farryn Townley picking up her first.

Next, the Matadors suffered a pair of setbacks, dropping a home contest against NCAA Tournament participant Oregon State, 3-1, and a road game at Creighton, 2-1. Junior Desiree Cardenas scored her first goal as a Matador against the Beavers and Townley netted her second goal in three games versus the Bluejays.

Northridge quickly rebounded with a 1-0 victory over Vermont at Matador Field, behind another goal by Townley. In the win, goalie junior Kellie Drenner and freshman goalkeeper Haley Hawes combined for the shutout, with Hawes playing the final 45 minutes and making three saves.

CSUN then hit the road to New Mexico for the UNM Nike Classic in Albuquerque. Unfortunately, the Matadors found little success hitting the back of the net in the two games in Albuquerque. They lost consecutive matches by the scores of 2-0 and 1-0 to host New Mexico and Kent State, respectively.

Following the tough weekend at New Mexico, CSUN returned to the friendly confines of Matador Field for a match-up with Hawai'i. Making her second straight start at net, Drenner made sure Northridge would get back in the win column, saving 12 potential scores for her second shutout of the season. Townley once again found the back of the net in the game, scoring her fourth goal of the season for a 1-0 victory.

Next, CSUN welcomed in third-ranked UCLA to Cal State Northridge for their final tune-up before opening Big West Conference play. In the contest, the 2009 College Cup Bruins scored two first half goals that proved to be the difference, as UCLA took the game by a 2-0 final.

The Matadors next set their sights on Big West play, as they hosted a match-up with Cal Poly. In the game, the Matadors not only got a competitive contest from the Mustangs, they faced a double dose of adversity. Drenner would be forced to leave in the first half due to injury, and then her replacement, Leah Elliott, suffered an injury herself forcing her out with 28 minutes to go in the second half.

With only two goalies dressed prior to the match, West called on freshman center back Katie Russ to take over at goalkeeper. Russ allowed a goal in her time at net, but preserved a tight 3-2 win, for her first career victory at the goalkeeping position. Farran and Cardenas each picked up their second goals of the season and Townley netted in the game winner, her fifth score of 2009.

Big West Conference preseason favorite and eventual NCAA Tournament participant, UC Santa Barbara, arrived next at Matador Field to face the Matadors. The Gauchos immediately struck first with a score in the first minute of the game, and then extended their lead to 2-0 after 45 minutes. The Matadors clawed back into the game though, eventually evening the score with UCSB on Townley's team-leading sixth goal of the season. Five minutes later however, the Gauchos responded with a score to take a 3-2 lead that proved to be the final score.

Following the tough loss to the Gauchos, CSUN took to the road for their longest and toughest road trip of the season, facing several important league tests for the squad: Pacific, UC Davis, UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton. Although the trip looked intimidating, the Matadors were more than ready for the challenge that lay ahead.

The trip began with a tight contest in Stockton, as the Tigers and Matadors battled for most of the match with the score deadlocked at 0-0, until Pacific broke through for a goal in the 58th minute that proved to be the difference-maker, as CSUN fell 1-0.

The Matadors next traveled to UC Davis, the site where they had not won since 2004. In the game, the teams would need overtime, as neither squad found the back of the net in the first 90 minutes. Finally in the 100th minute, Townley scored her seventh goal to lift Northridge over UC Davis for a 1-0 win.

The story of the match again was at net, where freshman Cynthia Jacobo made her first career start, as she relinquished her redshirt status prior to the game. Jacobo saved five shots for her first career shutout.

Riding the momentum of the win over the Aggies, the Matadors made their way to UC Riverside and earned their second straight 1-0 win. CSUN would pick up their first goal much quicker this time when Townley scored off a cross from Katie Fox in the 21st minute. Jacobo earned her second shutout in as many starts, saving a season-high six shots along the way.

The final test of the road trip came at Cal State Fullerton, where the Matadors looked to stretch their winning streak to three. For CSUN, defense again proved to be key, as they stifled another opponent for 90 minutes, not allowing a single shot on goal for the entire match.

The Matadors and Jacobo earned their third straight shutout, which set a new school record. Senior Niki Connolly provided the game's only score in the 26th minute, picking up her third goal of the season.

CSUN returned home for their final three games of the season. First, the Matadors took a break from their league schedule with a meeting against Cal State Bakersfield. In the match, Jacobo extended her shutout streak to 324:17 by keeping the Roadrunners off the board for the first 45 minutes. The Matadors would fall in the game however, losing 1-0 on a score coming in the 89th minute.

Despite the setback, the Matadors were focused on clinching a spot in the Big West Conference Tournament. Thanks to a 3-1 road trip, the Matadors sat at 4-2 in Big West play and on the verge of clinching a spot in the Big West tournament with UC Irvine coming to the San Fernando Valley.

Once again the Matadors endured another nail biting affair against the Anteaters, with the teams locked up in a scoreless tie at halftime. Minutes into the second half, Farran put CSUN on the board off a cross from Jasmine Pratt for her third goal of the season. The goal was more than enough for Jacobo who made two saves, as she stretched her shutout streak to 414:17, blanking UC Irvine for the 1-0 win. CSUN now had shutout four-straight league opponents for the first time in school history.

The win over UC Irvine had added significance, as the victory clinched a spot for the Matadors in the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2004. However, CSUN was not content with a playoff spot, instead looking to move up in the standings and at the possibility to host a playoff game, a feat women's soccer had never accomplished in school history.

On senior day, the emotionally charged festivities inspired the Matadors, as they came out quickly, scoring in the 11th minute of the contest off the foot of Farran. Once again a single goal turned out to be all the offense Jacobo would need, as she made four saves in the contest, shutting out her fifth-straight league opponent, breaking her own school record and stretching her shutout streak to 504:17.

With the victory, the Matadors had earned a home playoff game for the first time in school history and a date with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. Coincidentally enough, CSUN's last appearance in the postseason pitted the Matadors against the Gauchos, with UCSB coming out victorious, 4-2.

In the Big West Tournament match, the Gauchos and Matadors battled to a standstill for most of the afternoon. After 45 minutes, the teams entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. In the 68th minute, UCSB finally broke through, scoring on a rebound chance that ended Jacobo's scoreless streak in net, which had ballooned to over 560 minutes. Minutes later, the Gauchos scored on an own-goal by CSUN, pushing the lead to 2-0.

With less than six minutes left in the season, the Matadors mounted one last charge. Less than 40 seconds after the own-goal, the Matadors struck back. As she had done time after time during the regular season, Townley found the back of the net, this time off a cross Brielle Slepicoff, for her ninth goal of the season, tying a school record in the process.

Following the quick score, CSUN tried furiously to even the game in the final minutes, but they would fall just short as time expired.

Throughout the 2009 season, the women's soccer program achieved new highs this season and showed glimpses of what Matador fans can expect in the near future. The Matadors tied a school record with six league wins, earned the second best record in the conference and hosted their first ever playoff home game.

To cap off their successful 2009 campaign, six Matadors were honored with post-season awards, tying yet another school record and the team captured two major individual Big West awards for the first time as well. Jacobo's amazing shutout streak earned her Big West Conference Freshman of the Year honors, while West received the Coach of the Year award.

West joins Terry Davila (2004) as the only other recipient of the award in Matador history.

For the first time since 2001 and for the third time in school history, six Matadors were named All-Conference (1999- Big Sky Conference, 2001-Big West Conference). Townley earned a spot on the first team after tying a school record with nine goals. She led the team with 20 total points, which tied for the third-highest total for a season and she had a league-best five game winning goals.

Espitia, Fox and Jacobo all earned second team honors. Espitia finished with two goals and two assists for six total points. Fox had an assist and helped anchor a Matador defense that shutout eight opponents this season. After relinquishing her redshirt, Jacobo was nearly perfect at net during her seven games played. Her 0.30 goals-against-average is the best average in a single season and her five shutouts is the fifth-best mark in Matador history.

Sophomores Farran and Slepicoff each received All-Big West Honorable Mention. Farran finished with a career-high four goals and Slepicoff appeared in all but one game, picking up two assists.

Written by CSUN Media Relations Intern Nick Bocanegra