Matadors head to Santa Barbara

Alonso Tacanga

The Matadors’ showings of late have earned them a No. 9 ranking in the latest NSCAA Far West Region poll and that should give them confidence heading into their next game. Only problem is: their next match is a visit to the No. 3 team in the Far West (No. 18 in the nation), UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos have won every home game with the exception of a dropped 6-2 decision to monster, No. 1-in everything Wake Forest. Northridge is coming off a 1-0 conference play-opening home win against UC Riverside, but lost star forward Moy Gomez to injury in the process. With the other starting forward, Cameron Sims, and backup offensive player Camilo Rojas both out recuperating and suspended respectively, where will the Matadors get their offense from? From a couple of midfielders. Ben Cox and Ruben Rodriguez will start as forwards.

Date: Tonight
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Harder Stadium, Santa Barbara
Weather: Fair
Series: Tied (13-13-4)
Last meeting: Nov. 2007, UCSB 3 @ CSUN 2
Fact: The Gauchos are winners of the last three meetings against the Matadors.

Matador to watch:
Ruben Rodriguez, junior, midfielder

Rodriguez is listed as a midfielder, but tonight he’ll be starting at the forward position due to the unavailability of all the other offensive players. The junior, who will be making his third start of the season, is scoreless in 10 games. His height advantage could play a big role in the air attack. Midfielder Ben Cox will start next to him up top.’

Gaucho to watch:
Chris Pontius, senior, forward

The Gauchos feature a true scorer in Pontius, the Big West Conference’s second leading-scorer with eight goals in just 10 games. He’s the reigning Offensive Player of the Year and is clearly a top candidate to win the award again this season. Pontius didn’t score during his team’s 2-1 win at UC Irvine Saturday.

What did he say?

Ruben Rodriguez, CSUN midfielder/forward
On his new function as a shallow forward:

‘Ill be starting, so it’s a big role for me. (I have) to step up and show the team what I can do, bring them together, make it happen up top and score some goals to get the win. It’s my role for tomorrow to try to get some goals.’