NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -
The No. 6 Cal State Northridge Matadors look to create some separation at the top of the Big West Conference's South Division when they head to the Inland Empire to take on the UC Riverside Highlanders on Saturday, Oct. 19. The Matadors have won the last two matches against the Highlanders, including a 2-1 decision last October that clinched the division crown for CSUN. After splitting a pair of matches last week against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, the Matadors find themselves in a tie on points with Cal State Fullerton with six matches to play. This week, they hit the road for a single match against the Highlanders that can prove to be critical in helping CSUN win a bid to the Big West Conference Tournament. Saturday's match will kick off at 7 p.m. at the UC Riverside Soccer Stadium and will feature live stats and Twitter coverage. Fans can access the live stats feed, provided by UCR, on the men's soccer schedule page at GoMatadors.com and can follow along with scoring updates on Twitter (@CSUNMensSoccer).
#6 Cal State Northridge (11-2-0, 3-1-0 Big West) at UC Riverside (6-5-2, 1-3-0 Big West)
Saturday, Oct. 19 - 7 p.m.
UC Riverside Soccer Complex (1,156) - Riverside, Calif.
Live Stats: Link Available on Men's Soccer Schedule Page
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.
Adding Their Names To The Record Book
With the conference schedule underway, the Cal State Northridge Matadors have already accomplished a feat that the school hadn't seen since most of the players' parents were in college. CSUN opened the season with a string of seven consecutive victories for the first, and only, time since the 1979 season. In the process, the Matadors rose through the national rankings and were the third-ranked team in Division I. The ranking marked the first time that Cal State Northridge entered the Top 5 in the school's Division I history. In addition, the Matadors defeated eight non-conference opponents for the first time in the school's DI history.
A Closer Look At UC Riverside
The UC Riverside Highlanders enter the week at 6-5-2 overall and 1-3-0 in Big West play after splitting matches against Sacramento State and UC Davis last week. The Highlanders were unbeaten through their first seven matches this year (5-0-2) but then dropped four in a row, including to conference opponenets Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara. UC Riverside has a 4-2-0 record at home and is looking to climb the standings in the Big West's South Division.
Aaron Long and Romario Lomeli lead UC Riverside in scoring with three goals and an assist for seven points. Ivan Garcia, a veteran on the team, has two goals and two assists for six points this year. As a team, the Highlanders average 1.00 goals per game but are being outscored by the opposition 18-13. Although they've earned five shutouts, they have equally been held without a goal on five occasions.
KC John has seen the most time in net for the Highlanders, but Ashkan Khosravi has been the goalkeeper for the last three matches for UCR. John went 5-3-2 and was the starter until UCR suffered a 5-1 loss at Cal Poly on October 4. Since then, Khosravi has been the man in goal and is 1-2-0 with one shutout and seven saves in three matches. He has allowed four goals on the year and has a 1.33 goals against average. It is unclear who the Highlanders will start in goal this week, but as a team UC Riverside has a 1.34 goals against average and Northridge has had success against Khosravi, defeating UCR twice last season.
Following the match with the Matadors, the Highlanders will travel to UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton next week.
The Big West Tournament Postseason Picture
All eyes turn to divisional play this week as six matches remain in Big West action. There is still plenty to be sorted out as the top three teams in the North and South Divisions are still a long way from being determined. Now that inter-division matches have concluded the standings in each division are starting to take form and the Matadors find themselves at the top of the table in the South. Although tied with Cal State Fullerton on points (9), Cal State Northridge has the upper hand thanks to its overall record of 11-2-0. With the final stretch of the regular season, the Matadors control their destiny as they look to win a second-consecutive conference championship.
The top three teams from each division will earn a spot in the Big West Tournament, with the top overall seeds earning a bye. The second-place finisher from each division will host the third-place team from the opposite division in the first round of the conference tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The winner of the South #2 vs. North #3 match will travel to face the regular season champion of the North Division while the winner of North #2 vs. South #3 will head to the South champion in the semifinal round. Semifinal winners will then square off in the Big West Tournament Final on Sunday, Nov. 17.
Due to their play against teams from the North Division in the early part of the conference season, the South Division holds the tiebreaker for hosting the Big West Tournament Final. This means that should two identical seeds reach the championship match (1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, or 3 vs. 3), the team from the South Division will be the host. Any other seeding matchup will have the higher seed host as normal.
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 a quarter of CSUN's goal output so far this season. Through 13 matches, Behrad is second on the team with six goals and also has two assists. 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. Against then-No. 9 New Mexico, Behrad created a goal for himself by stealing the ball at midfield and outrunning the Lobo defense before beating the goalkeeper and he had the game-winning goal at UC Davis.
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. Against Central Arkansas he sealed the victory with his first goal of the season, a strike in the 84th minute. He is currently second on the team with 34 shots and is also among the team leaders with 13 shots on goal. He scored a goal at both Sacramento State and UC Davis as well. Against Cal Poly, Rivas had an assist on Sagi Lev-Ari's goal that tied the match before CSUN won 3-1. For his career, Rivas now has 16 goals, seven assists and 39 points.
Keep Calm And Sagi On
Junior forward Sagi 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. At the TLC Plumbing, Heating & Cooling Lobo Invitational, he scored twice against Central Arkansas and added a goal and an assist in CSUN's historic win over New Mexico. He was named to the CSN National Team of the Week again for his work. He added a pair of assists at Sacramento State and had one against Cal Poly. After scoring three goals across two matches last weekend, Lev-Ari now leads all scores in Division I with 11 goals. Lev-Ari now has 26 goals and 56 points in 35 career matches for Northridge.
Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides continues to climb the all-time leaderboard in assists. 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. He also had the game-winning assist in the win at New Mexico. 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 has 21 assists, tying for ninth all-time in CSUN history and ranking 10th in Big West history.
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 (6). 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. Velasquez scored a goal in back-to-back matches after striking against both UNLV and then-No. 11 UCLA. He added an assist in wins over San Diego and Saint Mary's as well. At Bradley, Velasquez earned a game-winning assist for a chip to Tanner Snedigar that was headed home in the 89th minute. For his career at CSUN, Velasquez has 12 goals, seven assists and 31 points.
You Really Like It, You Want Mor-ley
Sophomore centerback Trevor Morley is the lone starter returning to the Northridge defense 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. He also was named the Defensive MVP at the Lobo Invitational as the Matadors topped Central Arkansas and then-No. 9 New Mexico. For his work in Albuquerque, Morley earned a spot on TopDrawerSoccer.com's National Team of the Week.
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, while Lev-Ari had two goals against Central Arkansas and a goal and an assist at New Mexico. As a team, the Matadors have had a player record at least three points in a game nine times.
Matadors In The Big West Top Ten
In the seventh 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 in the league (194) so far and have tallied the most points in the country (108). Through 11 matches, Northridge's 32 goals are second and its 2.46 goals per game average is the best in the league. The Matadors are the nation's leaders in assists (44) and assists per game (3.38). Defensively, CSUN is fourth in the Big West with 14 goals allowed a 1.06 goals against average.
Individually, forward Sagi Lev-Ari leads the league with 44 shots and 3.38 shots per game. Lev-Ari leads all scorers in the country with 11 goals and 26 points. Brian Behrad is third in the Big West with six goals. Edwin Rivas is fourth with 37 shots and Behrad is tied for fourth in the league with 14 points. Beto Velasquez is tied for the lead in the conference with six assists and has 14 points as well while Chris Smith and David Turcios tie for fourth in assists (5). Defensively, goalkeeper Adam Hobbs ranks fourth in the conference with a 1.03 goals against average and is fifth with a .764 save percentage. Stats include matches through October 13, 2013.
Cal State Northridge continues to cement its place in Top 25 polls after going 11-2-0 and starting the year with seven wins for only the second time in school history (1979). This week, the Matadors are ranked 6th by the NSCAA, 5th by College Soccer News, 10th by TopDrawerSoccer.com, and 12th by Soccer America after going 1-1 last week. The Soccer Times poll was not available at publishing time. CSUN is ranked as the fourth-best team in the NSCAA's Far West Region, the highest of any Big West team this week, and is 12th in the NCAA RPI. 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 first month and a half 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. Fourteen different Matadors have recorded at least one point already this year, led by Sagi Lev-Ari with a nation-high 26. Brian Behrad (six goals, two assists) ties with Beto Velasquez (four goals, six assists) for second on the team with 14. Chris Smith (11) and Yarden Azulay (8) also find themselves on the scoresheet and Pol Schonofer Bartra scored the first CSUN goal this season and has two points. Edwin Rivas (9), Steven Manios (4), David Turcios (7), Carlos Benavides (3), Juan Samayoa (3), Mynor Giron (4), Tanner Snedigar (2) and Trevor Morley (1) round out the list of point scorers for Northridge.