It took a while, but the CSUN men’s soccer team finally got its first BigWest Conference win.
Despite playing Wednesday without junior forward Moy Gomez, senior midfielder Fergie Agwu and head coach Terry Davila, all of whom had to sit out due to red-card suspensions from Sunday’s game in Maryland, the Matadors were able to hold the fort against the Cal State Fullerton Titans.
Freshman midfielder Rafael Garcia delivered the big strike and the Matador defense and junior goalkeeper Kevin Guppy made sure the lead stuck, as CSUN emerged with a 1-0 victory to finally register three points to its conference total.
“It feels great,” Garcia said. “We’ve been struggling. Things haven’t really been going our way, but we finally broke through today.”
Assistant coach Yossi Raz acted as the head coach in Davila’s absence. Davila wasn’t entirely absent from the action, however, as he sat in the press box and did play-by-play with men’s soccer announcer Scott Stark on gomatadors.com.
Garcia’s goal came just five minutes into the second half. He fired the ball from 25 yards out and it beat Titan senior goalkeeper Brent Douglas to the far left post.
“As soon as I got the ball, my first instinct was to shoot,” Garcia said. “Luckily, I shot and it went in.”
The Matadors didn’t stop there, as they continued to put pressure on Douglas. CSUN’s best chance to add to its lead occurred in the 65th minute, when junior defender Bo Miller sent a free kick into the box and freshman midfielder Nicolas Hamilton headed the ball over Douglas, only to have the shot hit the crossbar. Sophomore Michael Clegg, playing forward, tried to head the ball in on the rebound, but was denied by a Titan defender.
Later, junior midfielder Devin Deldo headed a goal kick to Clegg, who immediately mounted a charge towards goal. Clegg sped past one defender, juked out another defender and fired away, but a pair of Titan defenders slid in and steered the shot away from goal and out of bounds.
In the 78th minute, Clegg and sophomore defender Adrian Lopez nearly duplicated the goal they scored against Maryland three days earlier, only this time, the roles were reversed. Douglas was in the process of clearing out the ball when Clegg stepped in and poked the ball away with his foot. Clegg gathered himself, charged in on goal and passed the ball off to Lopez. Lopez fired away, but the shot veered off to the right.
Northridge took 15 shots, nine of those in the first half. Fullerton attempted 13 shots, but the combined efforts of the Matador defense and goalkeeper Guppy, who made five saves, made sure none of those shots found the back of the net.
The defense had two additional weapons in the game with seniors Peter Bomar and Sean Franklin. Bomar, backup goalie, took to the field and logged 14 minutes as a defender. Franklin returned to action, anchoring the defense, after missing the first seven weeks of the season due to a broken wrist. He started and played all 90 minutes of the game.
“I felt good,” Franklin said. “The wrist is fine, I thought I did okay.”
The Matadors faced a huge test this past Saturday night, as they traveled to Harder Stadium to face the defending national champion UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
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