SACRAMENTO, Calif. -
In the first step toward repeating as conference champions, the No. 6 Cal State Northridge Matadors (9-1-0, 1-0-0 Big West) opened Big West Conference play with a convincing 3-0 victory over the Sacramento State Hornets (2-4-3, 0-1-0 Big West) on Friday afternoon at Hornet Field. The Matadors put together a comprehensive team effort in the win as seven different players recorded at least one point in the match.
Cal State Northridge not only continued their impressive start to the 2013 campaign, the team also won its conference opener for the sixth-straight year and the ninth time in the last 11 such matches.
Throughout the early part of the contest, neither side dominated possession and no shots were recorded until the 21st minute of play. Midfielder Chris Smith lined up a shot that was saved by Sacramento State goalkeeper Cesar Castillo.
Not long after the play, the Matadors found the breakthrough they'd been looking for and took a 1-0 lead. Junior forward Edwin Rivas scored his second goal of the year after receiving a pass from the top of the box and shooting into the lower corner of the net. David Turcios and Yarden Azulay were credited with assists on the play.
Near the end of the first half reserve goalkeeper Luis Ayala-Padilla entered the match for Adam Hobbs, who was shaken up but returned to action at the start of the second half. Just a minute and a half after entering the match, Ayala-Padilla was tested by a header from Chimdum Mez but made one of his two saves on the day.
The Matadors took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break and came out strong in the second half of play. Just under eight minutes in, Northridge doubled its lead thanks to a goal by Beto Velasquez. Forward Sagi Lev-Ari chipped the ball to Velasquez in the box before the senior sent home a shot into the corner from five yards out.
Smith put the match out of reach with a goal in the 89th minute. Brian Behrad and Lev-Ari combined to create a loose ball scenario in front of net and Smith tipped it past Castillo for his third goal of the season.
Hobbs made a pair of saves after returning to the match to earn his ninth win of the year.
Cal State Northridge will remain on the road and travel to UC Davis for a Sunday afternoon match against the Aggies. Kickoff from Aggie Soccer Field is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will include live stats and audio coverage available through GoMatadors.com.