NORTHRIDGE, Calif. –
Despite scoring a late goal to take the lead, the Cal State Northridge Matadors (6-7-1, 3-3-0 Big West) fell to the UC Riverside Highlanders (7-5-2, 2-3-1 Big West) 2-1 on Wednesday night at UCR Soccer Stadium in Riverside. Thomas Ramos scored for Northridge in the 86th minute but goals for the Highlanders in the 88th and 90th minutes won the match for UC Riverside.
There was a big difference statistically between the two teams on offense in the first half, as the Matadors fired off 12 shots compared to zero for UC Riverside. Northridge also led in shots on goal (2-0) and corner kicks (4-0), but were unable to net a goal in the first 45 minutes.
Ramos, a sophomore forward, nearly converted a header attempt in the 30th minute but his shot went just high of the goal and out for a goal kick. Freshman midfielder Yarden Azulay recorded the first shot on goal of the night in the 38th minute as his shot was saved by Cody Suppe.
Senior captain Rafael Garcia was able to add a shot on goal a minute later as his attempt off of a free kick from 20 yards out was also saved. Despite the two late chances for the Matadors, the match was scoreless at halftime.
Both teams had chances in the first part of the second half, beginning with the Highlanders in the 55th minute. UC Riverside's Ruben Valencia ripped a shot that forced Northridge goalkeeper Michael Abalos to make a diving save and push the ball out for a corner kick.
Then, in the 57th minute, a corner kick by Garcia for the Matadors found the head of Edwin Rivas but his try went over the crossbar. Garcia followed in the 59th with a shot that was saved and Rivas collected the rebound but shot the ball off the crossbar.
It was Garcia to Rivas again in the 77th minute as a corner kick from the senior found the freshman inside the box. Garcia got a foot to the ball but hit the post.
The breakthrough in the match came late for Ramos as he jumped for a cross from Christian Gonzalez Diaz from the right side. Ramos met it with his head and buried it into the back of the net for his team-high fifth goal of the season.
The lead would not hold, however, as Highlander Hayden Leslie beat Abalos who came off his line to make a save attempt to level the match at one goal apiece.
The momentum carried for UC Riverside as another shot, this time with 19 seconds remaining, found the net for Ivan Garcia and the Highlanders escaped with a 2-1 victory.
For the Matadors, Rivas, Garcia and Jeremy Hohn each received a yellow card, while Julio Reyes and Ivan Garcia were booked for the Highlanders. The 31 shots in the match for Northridge set a season-high for one game and bested the 29 shots taken by the Matadors at UC Riverside in 2009.
The loss, coupled with a loss by Cal Poly at Cal State Fullerton, places the Matadors in a tie for third in the Big West standings with the Mustangs as each has nine points. UC Davis defeated UC Irvine in overtime to create a tie at the top of the standings with both teams at 12 points.
The Matadors return to action on Saturday, Oct. 22 with a non-conference match at cross-town rival No. 7 UCLA. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.