NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
Beto Velasquez scored the game's only goal in the 36th minute and Michael Abalos recorded his sixth shutout of the year as the Cal State Northridge Matadors (13-5-0, 7-2-0 Big West) held on for a 1-0 win over the Cal State Fullerton Titans (7-11-1, 3-5-1 Big West) on Wednesday night at Matador Soccer Field.
The Titans looked to be the more dangerous of the two teams throughout the night and led in shots 17-7 and shots on goal 6-2. The difference in the match proved to be Velasquez's goal from a free kick and Abalos' six saves in net to earn his first clean sheet since October 7 at UC Santa Barbara.
Abalos was tested early and often by Cal State Fullerton and made four of his six stops in the first half. Just two and a half minutes in he recorded a save on a bouncing shot by Spencer Johnson.
Abalos was also credited with saves on headers on net by Gerzon Blanco and Ian Ramos to keep the match scoreless.
The Matadors did not register a shot of any kind in the match until the 34th minute when Velasquez fired one off of a defender. His next shot, however, put Northridge ahead for good.
Shortly after a corner kick for the Matadors, a Titan player committed a foul just outside of the 18-yard box on the left side. Velasquez lined up over the ball and curled in a shot that went over the wall of defenders and past Fullerton goalkeeper Bryan Escalante.
Midfielder David Turcios nearly doubled the Northridge lead in the 56th minute but his curling shot from 20 yards out missed the crossbar by inches.
The Titans had two excellent opportunities to even the score late in the match but came up unlucky both times. In the 75th minute, a low cross from the right side was met by Ritchie Gonzalez with a diving header but his shot missed wide of the post.
Then, in the 85th minute Gonzalez blasted a shot from nearly 40 yards away after a CSUN clearance that was saved by the fingertips of Abalos. The senior goalkeeper made another save in the 86th minute and the Matadors held off a late charge to win their third consecutive match.
It was a physical night on the pitch as the teams combined for 33 fouls in the match, but only one yellow card was shown to each side. Colin Okirie was cautioned in the 22nd minute for the Titans and Sagi Lev-Ari received a yellow in the 67th minute.
The Matadors return to action against the UC Irvine Anteaters on Saturday, Nov. 3 on Senior Night. Northridge will honor its six senior members with an on-field ceremony before the match.