Matadors Sunghyun Kim and Milan Radovic had two potential game-winners waved off for being offsides in the midst of an ‘even’ back-and-forth Big West Conference battle Saturday afternoon at Matador Field and Northridge (6-5-4, 2-1-3 Big West) couldn’t extend its home winning-streak to five after tying with Cal Poly (8-4-4, 3-2-2) 0-0 in double overtime.
‘We both created opportunities to win the game,’ said Matador Head Coach Terry Davila, who chose not to comment on the nullified goals. ‘It’s two even teams right now going at it. Was (the result) fair? I don’t know. I thought that we created enough opportunities to win the game and they created enough opportunities. (Goalkeeper Kevin) Guppy came up big for us and we missed a couple.’
The teams were even in the time of control that each displayed on the field over the other one. There were gaps in which the Matadors were the only team attacking. It was such the dominance at the time that Guppy was watching the action from midfield almost. Then, the tide shifted and it was the Mustangs who advanced their lines and had the home team reeling back to clear away their multiple crosses. Midfielder Anton Peterlin’s header at the 107th minute of regulation that went just over Guppy’s crossbar was the last of the numerous clear chances that both teams had.
Both Matadors and Mustangs ended up with six shots on goal for the game.
‘We had (control) the first 25 (minutes), they had the middle half and I thought we had the end of it.’ said Davila.
The Matadors created the first -and probably the best – chance of the game in the 11th minute after defender Ben Cox received a beautiful pass that left him on a one-on-one situation with Mustang goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco. Cox tried to juke the goalie before finally blasting a shot that Branagan-Franco got a leg on. The ball bounced right back to Cox as several defenders retrieved to the goal line behind their fallen goalie. The senior got back up and Cox had to pass it to a trailing Camilo Rojas, who had his attempt blocked and cleared from the box.
In the beginning of the second half, Cal Poly was the aggressor. Seven minutes into the period, forward Daniel Cumming had a potent header off a corner kick saved by Guppy. There was a rain of crosses going on in the Northridge box and Guppy was deflecting more balls than a tennis player. It was just then when the balance shifted back to the Matadors’ side and Kim had what looked to be the first goal of the game called off.
Ten minutes later, in the 79th minute, Radovic found a bounce in the Cal Poly box and put the ball in the net. It was called off again.
‘It’s (unfortunate),’ said Radovic about the turn of events. ‘but you got to keep playing.’
And play they did. For 110 minutes. But the score didn’t move as Northridge failed to obtain three points for the second consecutive game. The Big West race is more than halfway through and the Matadors missed a chance to get ahead of the Mustangs in the standings.
That doesn’t worry Rojas, the Matadors’ leading scorer (5). He’s confident that Northridge will be in the postseason.
‘It was a fair match,’ he said. ‘We’ll see (Cal Poly) again for sure (in the Big West Tournament).’
Forward Moy Gomez returned to action after suffering a torn ACL against UC Riverside Oct. 5. He only saw 10 minutes of action, though, and Davila said he might just sit out the rest of the season.
The teams had similar stats. Cal Poly had 18 shots to CSUN’s 13. Guppy had six saves while Branagan-Franco collected five. The Mustangs committed 15 fouls. The Matadors were penalized 11 times.
In the end, both teams knew it was anybody’s game to win.
‘It was two very comparable, tough teams playing a great game,’ said Cal Poly Head Coach Paul Holocher. ‘It would have almost been sad if one team got the win just because both teams played their hearts out.’
The Matadors return to action Wednesday at home against UC Santa Barbara, who’s second in the conference’s standings behind UC Davis.
‘Every game is a big game,’ Radovic said.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.