Aug. 28, 2009
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. - A free kick taken by sophomore Rafael Garcia proved to be the deciding shot of the game as he was able to curl the ball just past the outstretched hands of UNLV Rebels goalkeeper Roland Swanson to give the Cal State Northridge Matadors a 3-2 victory.
Garcia's shot came in the 89th minute of the game, a kick that was taken just outside the right-hand corner of the Rebels' penalty area to cap-off CSUN's come-from behind effort. Having missed the entire season due to an injury sustained within the first half of the first game of the 2008 season, Garcia's right foot provided the storybook ending to his return to the pitch.
The score would remain at 1-0 for a majority of the game until UNLV found their offensive rhythm and scored twice within five minutes to grab the lead away from CSUN.
But as quickly as the Rebels took the lead, the Matadors stormed back and scored their equalizing goal only two minutes later as freshman Yuval Barak raced down the right side of the pitch and delivered a pinpoint-accurate cross to the head of Devin Deldo, who soon found the back of the net before Roland had a chance to react to the play that unfolded in front of him.
Also returning from a season-ending injury sustained in the same game as Garcia, Deldo did not hesitate to become involved in the Matador offense and announced his return to competition with his lightning-quick header that tied the game at two apiece.
With just over a minute remaining in regulation, and everyone in attendance bracing themselves for the first overtime period, Garcia made one final attempt to push the ball upfield and set up one last play for his team.
Having beaten his defender along the sideline just in front of his bench, Garcia then headed straight towards the Rebel goalkeeper before he was tackled to the ground.
Having been awarded a free kick on the play, Garcia took full advantage of the opportunity provided, and wrapped a kick that sailed above and around the wall of Rebel defenders into the upper right-hand side of the goal.
With the score now 3-2 in the Matadors' favor, the crowd erupted as the final minute elapsed on the scoreboard, giving the host team a win in their only exhibition contest of the season.
Having assisted on CSUN's equalizing goal, Barak made his Matador debut a successful one as his feather-like pass across the field could not have been amy more well-placed to give his teammate an opportunity to take a shot on goal.
Including Barak, freshmen Rene Anguiano Jake Troy, Luis Gil, Michael Abalos, and redshirt-freshman Joe Franco all received significant playing time, with Anguiano and Franco each earning a spot in Head Coach Terry Davila's starting eleven.
The Matadors now have four days to prepare for their season-opening match on the road against the University of San Diego Toreros next Tuesday evening. Kick-off is scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m.