NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The No. 11 Cal State Northridge Matadors, off to the best start in the program's Division I history, will play their first matches of the season away from Matador Soccer Field this week. The Matadors will take part in the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational hosted by the University of New Mexico at UNM Soccer Complex. Northridge will open the event on Friday, Sept. 13, with a neutral-site match against the Central Arkansas University Bears. CSUN and UCA have never previously met in men's soccer, but will open their series history at 4:30 P.M. MDT (3:30 P.M. PDT). Two days later, the Matadors will play highly anticipated showdown against the host No. 9 Lobos. CSUN has never defeated New Mexico in Albuquerque, but the match is billed to be a showcase of potential NCAA Tournament teams. Following the brief trip out of the San Fernando Valley, the Matadors will return home next week to face UNLV and UCLA.
#11 Cal State Northridge (4-0) vs. Central Arkansas (3-1)
2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational
Friday, Sept. 13 - 4:30 p.m. MDT, 3:30 p.m. PDT
UNM Soccer Complex (6,200) - Albuquerque, N.M.
#11 Cal State Northridge (4-0) at #9 New Mexico (2-0-1)
2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational
Sunday, Sept. 15 - 6 p.m. MDT, 5 p.m. PDT
UNM Soccer Complex (6,200) - Albuquerque, N.M.
Follow Your Matadors Online
All home games this season will include live stats coverage and selected contests will also feature a free audio broadcast on GoMatadors.com. For road games, related links to the game, including for any live stats, audio and video, will be posted before the game on the men's soccer schedule page of GoMatadors.com. Fans are also encouraged to check the Cal State Northridge Athletics Department's official Twitter feed (@GoMatadors) and the soccer-specific feed (@CSUNMensSoccer) for updates of games in progress and news and notes throughout the week.
Take Your Seat in the Front Row
Fans can now follow all of the action for Cal State Northridge's 18 varsity sports right from their phone or tablet! CSUN Front Row, the official mobile app of Cal State Northridge Athletics, is available for free for your iOS and Android devices. You can also access live stats coverage of a majority of CSUN home events, as well as audio and video links when available. For more information, search for CSUN Front Row on the App Store or Google Play or visit GoMatadors.com/frontrow.
History in the Making
After defeating a pair of West Coast Conference programs last weekend, the Cal State Northridge Matadors are off to the best start in the program's Division I era. In fact, the Matadors are 4-0 in men's soccer for the first time since 1987 when the team made a run to the NCAA Division II National Championship match. So far this season, CSUN has outscored its opponents 11-3 but is entering its most challenging portion of the schedule to date. The Matadors defeated Saint Mary's, then 2-0, and will take on Central Arkansas (3-1) and New Mexico (2-0-1). The Lobos are perennially ranked in the Top 25 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Following the trip to New Mexico for the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational, CSUN returns home and faces UNLV before a Sunday night clash against the UCLA Bruins on September 22nd.
A Closer Look at Central Arkansas
The University of Central Arkansas opens the week with a 3-1 record. The Bears have also played all of their matches at home this season and are making the trip to the Lobo Invitational to face Cal State Northridge and Santa Clara. The Bears have won each of their last two matches and have not allowed a goal in 180 minutes, outscoring Oral Roberts and UMKC by a combined 4-0. The last goal conceded by UCA was an overtime game winner to Incarnate Word on September 2nd.
Logan Miller leads the offense for the Bears with three goals, two assists and eight points. He has taken just eight shots in the team's four matches with three on goal but also has a pair of game-winning strikes to his credit. Wes Carson, Jaden Hoth and Taylor Hart have each scored two goals this year with Carson and Hoth also adding an assist apiece. On the season, Central Arkansas has outscored its opponents 9-5 and has tallied a total of 26 points on offense. The Bears average just over 10 shots taken per match and have scored five of their nine goals in the first 45 minutes of play.
The Bears have used a pair of goalkeepers in net through the first four matches of the season. Patxi Shortsleeve started the first two of the year and went 1-1, allowing five goals in 206 minutes for a 2.18 goals against average. Taran Meyer has been in net for each of the last two matches and has recorded two shutouts. As a team, UCA has a 1.17 goals against average.
A Closer Look at No. 9 New Mexico
The No. 9 New Mexico Lobos enter this week with a 2-0-1 record overall. The Lobos once again are hosting an invitational sponsored by TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling. The last time the Matadors competed in this event (2011), CSUN defeated Missouri State before falling to the Lobos in the Invitational Championship. New Mexico scored three goals in the final 6:14 to take a 3-1 decision from Northridge. The Lobos take on Santa Clara on Friday before hosting the Matadors on Sunday.
Through three matches, New Mexico has come away with wins over Villanova and at Georgetown and earned a draw on the road against VCU. James Rogers leads the Lobos with three goals and seven points and is one of seven players with one assist. Michael Calderon has taken the most shots so far (16) and has converted the lone penalty attempt for New Mexico. Overall, the Lobos have tallied 25 points and have outscored the opposition 9-3.
Michael Lisch has seen the most time in net for New Mexico through three matches. He has factored into all three decisions and is 2-0-1 on the season. Lisch has allowed two goals in nearly 291 minutes and has a 0.62 goals against average. He also leads the team with five saves in goal.
I'm Not a Machine, I'm Just Brian
Senior forward Brian Behrad may not literally be a machine, but he has had a role in nearly half of CSUN's goal output so far this season. Through four matches, Behrad ties for the Big West lead with four goals and also has an assist. He scored both goals in the Matadors' 2-1 come-from-behind win over Saint Mary's, including a header with six seconds left in the first overtime to help CSUN to its fourth-straight win. For his work against San Diego and Saint Mary's (three goals, two game winners), Behrad was named the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Week and earned a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week.
Redshirt junior Edwin Rivas started off the season by helping the Matadors win the championship at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament. In the title game against Memphis on September 1st, Rivas' cross found Sagi Lev-Ari for a goal that tied the match at 1-1. He is currently second on the team with 14 shots and is also among the team leaders with four shots on goal. For his career, Rivas now has 13 goals, five assists and 31 points.
Keep Calm and Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari is on a tear at the beginning of the 2013 campaign. Lev-Ari became the first Matador to record a hat trick since Willie Sims in 2005 when he netted three goals on September 1st against Memphis. For his work over the opening weekend, he was named to the National Team of the Week by both TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News. His four goals this season tie for the lead in the Big West through four matches. Lev-Ari now has 19 goals and 38 points in 26 career matches for Northridge.
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides is on his way to becoming the Big West leader in assists for the third straight year. In the Matadors' 4-1 win over Memphis on September 1st, Benavides picked up a game-winning assist on the goal that put Northridge ahead 2-1. During the preseason, Benavides was ranked 38th in Top Drawer Soccer's annual list of the Top 100 Men's College Soccer players. For his career, Benavides currently ranks tied for 10th in Northridge Soccer history with 19 assists.
The Valley's Own
Senior midfielder Beto Velasquez was dynamic in CSUN's two victories during the opening weekend. He recorded two assists against Albany on August 30th and currently leads the team in that category (4). A wing player for the Matadors, Velasquez was able to wear down the defense to help create chances for his teammates in front of goal. He added an assist in wins over San Diego and Saint Mary's as well. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has eight goals, five assists and 21 points.
You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense this season. One of the top freshman in the conference a year ago, Morley is looking to lead the Matadors to another championship this season. During the opening weekend of the season, Morley helped the Matadors record a shutout over Albany and a convincing win over Memphis. He had an assist against the Great Danes and was named to the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament's Best XI team. For his career, Morley has helped the Matadors to 11 shutouts and has two points.
One Plus One is Three Or Four
Senior forward Brian Behrad was the first Matador to put up a goal and an assist in the same match this season when he did so in the first match of the season against Albany. In the 68th minute, Behrad received a cross from the right side and bounced a header in over the goalkeeper's head. Just over a minute later, he created a turnover in the midfield and had a breakaway at goal. His initial shot was deflected by the goalkeeper to teammate Chris Smith, who slotted home a shot into the empty net. Sagi Lev-Ari was the first with a multi-goal game when he scored a hat trick against Memphis two days later. Behrad headed home a pair of goals to pick up four points in CSUN's 2-1 overtime win over Saint Mary's.
Matadors In The Big West Top Ten
In the second Big West statistical standings release of the season, the Cal State Northridge Matadors rank at or near the top of numerous categories as a team and individually. The Matadors have fired off the second-most shots (79) so far and have tallied the most points (38). Through four matches, Northridge's 11 goals are the most in the conference and its 2.75 goals per game average is tops in the league as well. The Matadors are also the leaders in assists (16) and assists per game (4.00). Defensively, CSUN is third with three goals allowed and a 0.73 goals against average.
Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 17 shots, is third with 4.25 shots per game, and is second with eight points. He ties for first in the conference with teammate Brian Behrad at four goals. Edwin Rivas is third with 14 shots and Behrad is tied for seventh with 11 shots while leading the league with nine points. Chris Smith and Beto Velasquez tie for seventh with four points while Velasquez is first in the Big West with four assists. Velasquez's 1.00 assists per game average also puts him first in the Big West. Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks third in the conference with a 0.54 goals against average and is tied for second with a .818 save percentage.
Cal State Northridge continues to climb in Top 25 polls after going 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 1987. The Matadors are currently ranked 11th by the NSCAA, 16th by College Soccer News, 18th by Soccer America and 21st by TopDrawerSoccer.com after receiving votes in preseason media polls. CSUN is ranked as the second-best team in the NSCAA's Far West Region, the highest ranking for any Big West team this week. The team was also picked to repeat as champions of the Big West South Division in a preseason poll of head coaches in the conference. Northridge, which won the regular season crown and the Big West Tournament title,received six first-place votes in the poll and 30 points overall. UC Irvine was picked second, followed by Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside in the division. In the North, the coaches tabbed UC Santa Barbara as favorites with five first-place votes. The Gauchos were followed by UC Davis, Cal Poly and Sacramento State.
Through the two weeks of the season, the Matadors have started racking up points on the offensive side of the game. Across the first two matches against Albany and Memphis, Cal State Northridge scored seven goals and tallied 10 assists while holding the opposition to just one goal and one assist. Twelve different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Brian Behrad with nine. Sagi Lev-Ari is second on the team with eight. Chris Smith (4) and Yarden Azulay (3) have also found themselves on the scoresheet. Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points while Beto Velasquez leads the team with four assists and also has four points. Edwin Rivas (1), Steven Manios (3), Carlos Benavides (1), Trevor Morley (1), Juan Samayoa (1) and Mynor Giron (1) round out the list of point scorers for Northridge.
Quick Out of the Gates
Northridge is 23-11-2 all-time in season openers, including wins in the past three. Northridge took a 3-0 decision against Albany to open this season, cruised by Portland University 4-0 at the 2012 Wilson Titan Classic, and defeated Canisius at Matador Soccer Field 2-0 in 2011. Northridge started the year 2-0 for the second time since the 2005 campaign and second year in a row. Both the 2005 and 2012 Matadors earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Matadors are 27-9 in home openers after a win over Albany on August 30. They are 21-7-4 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 9-1-2 all-time in Big West Conference openers after defeating the UC Davis Aggies 2-0 on Sept. 28, 2012. 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.
Welcome to the Family
Cal Sate Northridge has a lot of new faces in the program this season as the Matadors hope to repeat in the Big West. Eleven new additions join five redshirt freshmen as players hoping to make their mark on the field this year. Northridge, which saw the graduation of three starting defenders and its starting goalkeeper, has recruited in a number of prospects that give the coaching staff multiple options all over the field. In all, CSUN has three first-year goalkeepers, nine new players that can line up on defense and four that can step in as midfielders or forwards. The Matadors also return their top seven point recorders from a year ago, including the top four in goals scored.
Redefining The "Matador Defense"
The Cal State Northridge Matadors don't just let anyone compete on the team. A major requirement for each player is the ability to play a tough and aggressive style of defense at every position. In addition to the top defensive player in the Big West Conference last season, the Matadors also lost the league's top goalkeeper and two other defensive starters to graduation. However, the Matadors have not lost a step and are showing that they are still a dominate force on both sides of the ball. Sophomore center back Trevor Morley was named the Defensive MVP at the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament to open the season. Forward Brian Behrad forced multiple turnovers in the midfield and sprung a run that led to a goal for Chris Smith against Albany in the season opener. In total, the Matadors held their opponents to just one goal on a combined 16 shots through the first two games of the year. The team conceded only five corner kicks and five shots on goal while posting a shutout and outscoring the opposition by six goals. In addition to playing stout defense, Morley was credited with an assist against Albany on a goal scored by fellow center back Pol Schonhofer Bartra.
We Must Protect This House
The Matadors have a healthy dose of home matches on the schedule this season, which should help the team make a run toward the postseason. Northridge plays just three matches away from Matador Soccer Field before the start of Big West play in October. In addition to a road match at Bradley, the Matadors will compete in the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitaitonal hosted by the University of New Mexico. Northridge will square off against Central Arkansas in a neutral-site match before battling the UNM Lobos to conclude the tournament. Overall. CSUN will play seven true road matches and one at a neutral site out of the 19 matches on the ledger this season. Last season, Northridge went 7-3 in home matches.
Getting the Job Done
The Matadors put up numerous exciting finishes last season on the way to the program's first NCAA berth since 2005. Following a 4-0 result against Portland to open the season, 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. Northridge was also impressive offensively in a pair of 5-0 victories at home against Army (9/14) and at San Diego (9/20). Prior to this season, the Matadors hadn't scored five goals in a match and hadn't won by a five-goal margin since winning 6-1 over Detroit in the team's home opener on August 31, 2007. On October 7, the Matadors went in to Santa Barbara and came away with a 1-0 win over then-No. 4 UC Santa Barbara. It was the first win for CSUN at Harder Stadium since the 1999 season. On October 13, Northridge was able to score a golden goal in the 104th minute against UC Riverside to record the program's first home overtime win since 2009. The team then defeated Cal Poly 2-0 in the Big West Semifinals and outlasted UC Davis 1-0 in the Final to capture the program's first Big West Tournament Championship in history.