FULLERTON, Calif. –
After holding a 4-1 lead early in the second half, the No. 20 Cal State Northridge Matadors (10-5-0, 4-2-0 Big West) were stunned in a 5-4 loss to the Cal State Fullerton Titans (5-10-1, 1-4-1 Big West) on Wednesday night at Titan Stadium. The Titans scored four goals within 17 minutes to hand the Matadors their second loss in the last 10 matches.
Beto Velasquez got the Northridge offense going early by scoring just over a minute into the match. A cross from the left side of the field went into the penalty area to Velasquez, who one-timed a volley into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the year. Both Chris Smith and Edwin Rivas were credited with an assist on the play.
The Titans were able to get the equalizer in the 35th minute thanks to an own goal by Northridge. Ian Ramos received a pass from Spencer Johnson on the right side of the box and sent a ball toward goal that was kicked in by a CSUN defender on a failed clearance.
Garcia helped Northridge regain the lead in the 41st minute after a run through the middle of the field. Garcia sent a cross from the right side to the top of the box where it was stepped over by Brian Behrad on a fake. The ball continued through traffic to Lev-Ari, who met it with a strike into the left side of the goal for his 11th tally of the year.
Just before halftime, David Turcios fired a shot from nearly 50 yards out that was mishandled by the goalkeeper. Behrad was able to get to the loose ball immediately and tapped in the goal in the 45th minute.
With a 3-1 halftime lead, it looked like the Matadors would control the second half and extend their Big West South Division lead. Behrad scored his second goal of the night just 26 seconds into the second 45 minutes. Rivas took a shot from the left side that was parried by the goalkeeper into the air and Behrad was there to head it into the goal.
The Matadors were held in check offensively after that as Ramos and the Titans took over. Ramos scored in the 54th and 61st minutes and added a penalty kick goal to complete his hat trick for the game winner in the 71st.
A header by Jameson Campbell in the 64th minute found the back of the net to tie the match at 4-4 at the time.
Northridge recorded two shots after falling behind 5-4, including one by Armando Gutierrez that went just over the crossbar in the 90th minute.
With the loss, the Matadors' lead in the Big West South Division stands at six points over UC Riverside with four matches to play. Cal State Fullerton sits third with four points and UC Irvine is currently fourth with three points.
Northridge's next match is Saturday, Oct. 20 at UC Irvine and kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. With a win over the Anteaters and a Cal State Fullerton loss or tie against UC Riverside on Saturday, the Matadors will clinch a trip to the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2009.