St. Mary’s forward Jake Rudel rushed and cracked a shot inside the post past the gaels diving keeper Henrik Regitnig. The goal proved to be decisive in the 86th minute and the Gaels got the 2-1 road win over CSUN (1-1) in a game where temperatures reached up to 102 degrees.
The heat was met with the physicality of the game. The game featured three yellow cards and 14 fouls by each team.
“They were very athletic, very strong and they win a lot of balls,” CSUN coach Terry Davila said about St. Mary’s. “They win a lot of balls, they aren’t dirty. They are just a good team. They go to the ball very tough, very clean and you have to commend them.”
The Matadors struggled to keep the ball with their back line. On the opposite side of the coin the gaels (1-0-1) attacked the gaps and spread CSUN’s defense thin.
“At this part of the season, they are very good at winning the ball,” Davila said. “We have to be better offensively, but that becomes better in time. In order to beat a team like this you have to be very good with the ball. We are not ready to be that clean with the ball and we are not fit enough to beat a team like this.”
CSUN allowed its first goal by Andrew Lucas who came in off the bench and scored inside post to give St. Mary’s the 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. In the final 10 minutes the Matadors started to find its rhythm offensively and earned three corners kicks within that span but went into the locker room at halftime empty handed.
“It’s not always an individual game you have to be better defensively as a group,” Davila said. “We are not together defensively as a group. We are not to that level yet. We have had good moments but stay consistent at being a good team unit throughout the whole game. We are not there yet.”
CSUN came out strong in the second half with the forwards aggressively pushing the tempo. After the Matadors unleashed a flurry of shots, freshman Danny Trejo finally came up big with a goal of his own in the 75th minute. After a pass through the middle from Mauricio Lopez, Trejo put the shot away to tie the match for his first goal of the season.
“The ball was coming up and the defense just came out,” Trejo said. “He didn’t hit the ball right and I saw the opportunity for me to get the ball and saw the wide open chance for me to take a shot. I just came and took it and it went in. I was very happy for that.”
The Matadors who have one of the toughest nonconference schedules in the country hit the road to play Utah Valley who defeated #16 ranked Akron 1-0 at home Thursday night. That will be followed by matches against New Mexico and Colorado. CSUN will not return home until September 14 to host San Jose State at 7 PM
“We just got to go practice, listen to our coaches and get ready for each game,” Trejo said. “As a freshman if I come in and just do my part and together do our best. We just got to get better each day, day by day.”