NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
After a five-match road trip to open up the regular season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors finally return to the San Fernando Valley for the team's home opener this week. Northridge will go up against a pair of programs for the first time in school history as the Matadors battle the Army Black Knights on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. and the Temple Owls on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 5 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field. The Matadors enter the week at 2-3-0 overall and look to get back into the win column with two home matches on the slate.
Both matches this week will feature live stats and audio coverage available on GoMatadors.com. An Internet-only radio broadcast will be available for most home matches in 2012 and can be accessed 15 minutes prior to the scheduled kickoff by clicking the audio link on the men's soccer schedule page. The Matadors are entering a portion of their schedule where they play five out of the next six matches at home, including the first two Big West Conference clashes of the season at the end of the month.
Matadors (2-3) vs. Army Black Knights (2-3)
Friday, Sept. 14 - 7 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,550) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Eldrick Bone and Geoff Herberg
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors
Matadors vs. Temple Owls (1-1-1)
Sunday, Sept. 16 - 5 p.m.
Matador Soccer Field (1,550) - Northridge, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available at GoMatadors.com
Audio: Eldrick Bone (Play-By-Play) and Geoff Herberg (Color)
In-game Twitter updates: @GoMatadors
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home matches this season will include live stats coverage and selected matches will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road contests related links to the game, inlcuding for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the match on the schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athetics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) for updates of matches in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
A Closer Look at Army
The Matadors will face Army for the first time in school history when the Black Knights travel to Matador Soccer Field this Friday night. The Black Knights enter the week at 2-3-0 after dropping their last match at then-No. 18 Louisville 3-0 on September 8.
Both of Army's victories in 2012 were by a 3-0 margin and both were played on its home field. The Black Knights are 0-2 in road matches but have only lost once when scoring a goal. The match against Northridge on Friday is the second in a stretch of five matches away from Clinton Field for the Black Knights.
Josh Koeppe leads the Army attack in nearly every offensive category and has started all five matches this season. Koeppe has scored two goals and has one assist for a total of five points. He leads the team with nine shots and also has three shots on goal. Both Michael Kim and Parker Dixon tie for second on the team with a goal and an assist for three points apiece. Ten players on the team have started every match for Army.
Goalkeeper Winston Boldt has started every match in net for the Black Knights and has collected a 2-3-0 record. He has two shutouts on the season with a 1.40 goals against average, a .682 save percentage and 15 total saves. Following the match with the Matadors, Army will travel up the California Coast to face the Cal Poly Mustangs on Sunday, Sept. 16.
A Closer Look at Temple
Following the match against Army, the Matadors will welcome the Temple Owls to Matador Soccer Field for the first time on Sunday afternoon. The match will start at 5 p.m. and is Neighborhood Night with all local fans receiving admission for just $2. Temple comes into the week with a record of 1-1-1 overall and has a contest at Cal Poly on Friday, Sept. 14 before traveling to the San Fernando Valley.
The Owls are coming off of a 3-2 victory at home over Manhattan on Sept. 11, a game in which Chas Wilson scored the teams first two goals of the season. Wilson leads the Owls with four points and he has tallied six shots on goal out of seven attempts this year. Both Vaughn Spurrier and Jared Martinelli recorded two assists in the match as the Owls were able to hold on for the victory after the Jaspers scored twice to bring the scoreline closer.
Goalkeeper Dan Scheck has compiled a 1-1-1 record on the year with a 0.71 goals against average and seven saves. He was credited with the win over Manhattan despite being subbed off after 52 minutes of play. His replacement, Bobby Rosato, allowed one goal in 38 minutes of work for a 2.41 goals against average. The senior made his season debut in the match despite playing with a fractured forearm and saved a penalty kick in the match to preserve a two-goal lead at the time. The goalkeeping situation will become more clear after Temple's match at Cal Poly.
Following the West Coast trip, the Owls will return home for matches against Saint Peter's and Howard next week.
Results from Last Week
The Cal State Northridge Matadors competed in one match last week, a 3-1 loss on the road to UNLV. The Matadors were trailing in the match on a goal 20 minutes in by the Rebels. Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari was able to level the match for Northridge by scoring his conference-leading fourth goal of the season just under three minutes later. Lev-Ari collected a loose ball rebound after teammate Beto Velasquez ripped a shot that was saved by UNLV goalkeeper Joe Vitale. Lev-Ari found the ball in the box and tapped it in for the Matadors.
UNLV scored a goal early in the second half and another with under five minutes to play to seal the match for the Rebels. Northridge tallied an impressive 25 shots and 10 shots on goal against UNLV but could only find the net on one occasion. Forward Edwin Rivas led all players with nine shots on the day, more than half of the total amount of shots he had taken to that point in the season.
Following the afternoon match at UNLV, the Matadors returned home for their annual Alumni Match at Matador Soccer Field on Saturday, Sept. 8. More than 30 men's soccer alumni turned out for the event and the friendly that is traditionally current against former Matadors turned into an alumni-only display for the fans in attendance. Matadors from all eras of Northridge soccer competed in what became a 6-6 draw.
Rewriting the Record Books
One indication of the success goalkeeper Michael Abalos has earned so far in his career can be seen in the Matador record books. The San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native earned a spot on four different lists with his numbers earned during his first three seasons at Northridge. Abalos is now tied for seventh place with his 18 career victories, is eighth all-time with his 1.35 career goals against average and is second all-time with his 15 career shutouts. His seven clean sheets earned in 2011 are also the third-highest number of shutouts earned in a season, tying him with Jeff Blumkin (1988) and Mike Caputo (1986) and their respective single-season performances. His 57 matches in goal place him third on the all-time list.
Redshirt sophomore Edwin Rivas is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. Through the first three weeks of 2012, Rivas has two goals, an assist and five points. Rivas scored a goal and had an assist in Northridge's 4-0 win over Portland and scored the tying goal against American University in a 2-1 win. For his work over the first weekend, he was named the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic Offensive MVP and earned Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors as well. For his career, Rivas now has seven goals, one assist and 15 points.
Everybody Needs a Little Lev-Ari
Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari made a statement in his first match in a Northridge uniform. In the Matadors' 4-0 victory over the Portland Pilots on August 24, Lev-Ari scored the first and last goals of the match to secure his first four points of the season. He became the first Matador with a multiple-goal match since Rafael Garcia put in two penalty kicks at UC Davis on September 28, 2011. On September 2 at Loyola University Maryland, Lev-Ari scored his third goal of the campaign off of a free kick. Jose Luis Garcia touched a short ball to Lev-Ari who fired in a lined shot from about 22 yards out. Lev-Ari also scored the lone CSUN goal at UNLV to give him four on the year, best in the Big West.
Junior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to help the Matadors find ways to score goals. After tying for the Big West Conference lead with eight assists and leading in assists per game (0.47), he is well on his way to taking home the top spot in those categories again this season. At the Wilson Titan Classic hosted by Cal State Fullerton Benavides picked up two assists, one in each of the Matadors' victories over Portland (4-0) and American (2-1). Benavides, along with teammate Yuval Barak, is tied for the Big West lead with two assists and is second with a 0.40 assists per game average through five matches.
One and One is Three
Sophomore forward Edwin Rivas was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he accomplished the feat against Portland on August 24. Sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari had two goals of his own in that match to record four points as each put up performances that are hard to come by. A number of Matadors put up multiple-point performances in a match last season. Thomas Ramos had a goal and an assist in a 2-2 draw at #22 CSU Bakersfield (9/15) and again in a match against Seattle University (9/25). Against #19 Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 1, both Christian Gonzalez Diaz and Carlos Benavides tallied three points, as Gonzalez Diaz scored and had an assist and Benavides recorded three different helpers. Rafael Garcia twice converted penalty kicks into goals at UC Davis (9/28) for the only four-point display by a Matador in 2011.
Matadors In The Big West Top-Ten
With the first three weeks of the regular season in the books, a number of Matadors have jumped into the individual rankings for the Big West Conference. Edwin Rivas leads the conference in shots taken (22). He ranks among the leaders in points (T-7th - 5), points per game (T-7th - 1.00), goals (T-6th - 2) and goals per game (T-7th - 0.40). He also leads the league with 4.40 shots per game and ties for seventh with one assist. Sagi Lev-Ari is ranked third with 1.60 points per game and is tied for fourth with 14 shots taken. Lev-Ari is the league leader in points (8) and goals (4) and goals per game (0.80).
Beto Velasquez checks in tied for second in the conference with one game-winning goal. Yuval Barak and Carlos Benavides tie for first with two assists and tie for second and 0.40 assists per game. Goalkeeper Michael Abalos ranks seventh in the conference in goals against average (1.40), eighth in save percentage (.667) and seventh in both shutouts per game (0.20) and saves per game (2.80). He also ranks tied for fifth with one shutout on the season and is sixth with 14 overall saves.
The Cal State Northridge Matadors have seen production out of every position on the field early in the season. In the team's first five matches, four different players have scored a goal and eight total Matadors have recorded at least one point. The team put up 24 points thus far and is third in the Big West Conference in that category. Each of the four goals against the Portland Pilots in the season-opening 4-0 win had an assist by a different player. Among the point scorers for Northridge are three forwards, three midfielders and two defenders led by forward Sagi Lev-Ari with eight. Edwin Rivas (5), Beto Velasquez (3) and Joe Franco (2) have scored goals while Carlos Benavides (2), Yuval Barak (2), Jose Luis Garcia (1) and Christian Gonzalez Diaz (1) have earned assists. Lev-Ari has scored a goal in three matches this year and leads the team with four goals. Rivas and Velasquez have each scored at least one goal and an assist this season.
You Can't Score if You Don't Shoot
Through the first five matches of the season, the Matadors have taken 86 shots. Cal State Northridge leads the Big West Conference in shots taken and ties for third in goals scored (8), points (24) and goals per game (1.60). Thirteen different Matadors have recorded a shot this season and just under half of the shots taken have been on goal. At the same time, opponents have recorded just 56 total shots and 21 on goal.
Of the 19 matches on the schedule this year, the Cal State Northridge Matadors will play just eight at Matador Soccer Field, including three non-conference matches in September. That may bode well for the Matadors, as the team had a record of 5-3-1 in road contests last season. Northridge opens up the 2012 season with five straight matches away from home beginning with two at the Cal State Fullerton Tournament against Portland and American. CSUN will then head east for matches at Georgetown and Loyola University Maryland before taking on UNLV in Las Vegas on September 7. The Matadors' first home match will take place on Friday, Sept. 14 against Army. Northridge will also travel to face San Diego, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, UC Irvine and UC Riverside this season.
Down, But Not Out
With just five matches gone by, the Matadors have already put up a few exciting performances. Following a 4-0 result against Portland, Northridge found itself down a goal early in the second half against American. It was then that the Matadors rattled off two goals in a span of three minutes to take the lead for good and pick up their second win of the year. Last season, Cal State Northridge was able to rally on more than a few occasions to put the team back into the game. In the Matadors' match against No. 2 Akron on September 3, Northridge played down a man for 66 minutes due to an accumulation of yellow cards by a defender. In the 25th minute of action, the Zips took advantage of the man advantage and pulled ahead with a 1-0 lead. Not to be put away, the Matadors played a more defensive game, with goalkeeper Michael Abalos recording seven saves between the time of the red card and when freshman Yarden Azulay scored to even the match on a breakaway in the 82nd minute. In all, the Matadors rallied from a goal down to tie the match three times (vs. UNLV, Akron, and UC Santa Barbara), all after the 75th minute. Against No. 22 CSU Bakersfield on Sept. 15, the Matadors rallied from being down two goals on the road to force overtime and earn a draw. On Oct. 22 at No. 7 UCLA, the Matadors trailed 2-1 before goals by Brian Behrad (83') and Edwin Rivas (87') led Northridge to its first victory over the Bruins in Westwood and just the second win over UCLA in school history.
Quick Out of the Gates
Northridge is 22-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past two. Northridge cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. In addition, Cal State Northridge opened the schedule at a neutral site for the first time since the 2002 season when the Matadors competed in the LMU Tournament in Los Angeles. Northridge went on to play in the NCAA Tournament that season. Northridge is also 2-0 for the first time since the 2005 campaign. That team reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 20-7-4 in conference season openers, and have only been defeated once in a Big West opener. CSUN has not lost a conference opener since 2002, when they were on the wrong side of a 2-1 decision against UC Irvine at home. The Matadors are now 8-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 3-0 on Sept. 28. The longest streak for conference opening wins in Matador history is 10 seasons, accomplished from 1978-87 under the direction of head coaches Zvi Friedman, Ric Fonseca and Marwan Ass'ad.
Tickets for all home men's matches are available through the CSUN Associated Students Ticket Office. Adults are $8, while youth 17 and under and seniors 60 and older are $5. 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.