Once again, the CSUN men’s soccer team was fit to be tied on the road.
Facing a UC Irvine squad that was ranked 25th in the nation, but was reeling from a 4-0 road loss to the 12th-ranked UC Santa Barbara Gauchos last Wednesday, CSUN fell behind early at Anteater Stadium on Saturday night, but came back to equalize in the second half. The Matadors came dangerously close to pulling off the upset more than once, but in the end, both teams had to settle for the 1-1 draw.
“I’m proud that we came back,” head coach Terry Davila said. “We haven’t come back all year from a 1-0 deficit and that’s big for us.”
Sophomore forward Sunghyun Kim scored the tying goal in the 48th minute. Junior midfielder Devin Deldo sent a perfect ball to Kim, leaving him alone on a breakaway with only Anteater goalkeeper Greg Larsen to beat. Kim charged into the box, baited Larsen into committing to his right and instead, went left and fired the ball perfectly into the back of the unprotected net.
The game went into overtime and it was the Matadors that had the best looks at a potential golden goal. Deldo attempted a bicycle kick in the 92nd minute, but was stopped by Larsen.
In the second overtime, Kim had perhaps the best chance to end the game in the 103rd minute when he was sprung loose, courtesy of a perfect ball sent by senior midfielder Fergie Agwu. Kim received the pass just inside the box and struck the ball past a diving Larsen, only to have the ball go wide right. The two players switched roles a minute later when Kim lobbed a ball to Agwu to the right, inside the box. Agwu struck the ball low toward the right post, but was stopped by Larsen. The Matadors had one last chance to come away with three points in the game’s final minutes when Deldo sent a perfect pass to Kim, but Kim’s strike in the 108th minute was denied by Larsen.
“I’m proud of the way he’s playing,” Davila said of Sunghyun Kim. “He’s an impact player.”
Irvine’s lone goal in the eighth minute was scored by freshman Corey Attaway as he beat junior goalkeeper Kevin Guppy to the right side on a breakaway.
The Anteaters outshot the Matadors 11-8 in the match, though the Matadors kept Larsen busy most of the night. Larsen made five saves while Guppy made three.
“In the Big West, where it’s really close like this, it’s good to tie on the road,” Guppy said. “We just got to get better and hopefully, we’ll turn these (ties) into wins.”
CSUN (4-2-3) is currently in fourth place in the Big West Conference with two points. Only UC Santa Barbara has stood out so far, winning its first three conference games to tally nine points. After the Gauchos, Cal Poly possesses second with four points, UC Davis is third with three and Irvine, Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside are tied for fifth with a point apiece.
“It’s hard. It’s competitive. Every team is athletic,” Davila said of the Big West Conference. “(If) you get a point in the Big West now, it’s a big deal, (especially) on the road.
The Matadors will try again for its first Big West Conference win on Wednesday afternoon. That task will be difficult, as the Matadors hook up with the defending National Champion Gauchos at Matador Soccer Field. Game time is set for 2 p.m.
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