The men’s soccer season is here. The Matadors finished last season with a record of 7-7-6 overall and 3-5-4 in Big West Conference-play. It was good enough for fourth place in their league, but not good enough to satisfy CSUN supporters. Northridge will now strive for a significant improvement from 2007. It’s time to translate the Matadors’ abilities into results.
“We had a lot of younger players and (they) got a lot of experience last year,” said CSUN men’s soccer head coach Terry Davila. “That’s going to be positive. Hopefully, that affects us this season.”
The results of last season seem disappointing, but the year provided a lot of positive points. The fights of 2007 are now a springboard for 2008. Learning from their mistakes and moving on with that new experience under their belts will be vital for the team’s success this season.
CSUN returns 16 total players from the 2007 roster -nine of them starters-, giving them that edge of having a group that knows each other. Chemistry could be one of the Matadors’ better strengths.
“The team is improving. Players got older, got more mature, understanding the system, and understanding each other,” Terry said. “We have a lot of good players and they contribute a lot.”
Junior Sunghyun Kim, in his third season as a Matador, adds offensive quality at the outside midfielder-position due to his speed. Last season, he scored four goals and assisted in three more. He’ll be a key player for CSUN’s attacking lineup.
“We are preparing for the upcoming season from last spring and competing hard against each other,” said Kim. “Everybody is expectant and excited about the upcoming season. We are going to have a great one this fall.”
Another threat is sophomore midfielder Rafael Garcia, who had two goals and two assists last season. He will be counted on to steer the Matador attack, as will be Sunghyun. Both players add stability and strength to the team.
Then there is senior forward Devin Deld’oacute;, now entering his final year having accumulated 23 points (two points per goal and one per assist) over his career as a Matador. Thus far, he has seven goals and nine assists. He’ll look to add more points to his personal record in 2008.
Lastly, but certainly not least, the Matadors count on senior goalkeeper Kevin Guppy to keep their net secure. Guppy is the school’s career leader in shutouts (21.5) and wins (29). He has earned all-league recognition in all three of his seasons as a Matador.
“This year, everyone is on the same page.” said Guppy. “We worked well last spring and I think the attitude has carried over to the fall.”
There’s more. CSUN has got some brand new weapons as well. Joining the Matadors and Davila in 2008 will be transfers Cameron Sims, Ruben Rodriguez, Michael Barbeito and Christopher Leiva, as well as freshmen Matthew Chavez, Jake Wright, Daniel Crandall and Joe Franco. Franco adds speed and defensive awareness in the backline and, despite being a first-year player, brings experience to the team due to stints with some local clubs.
And to make sure the players have a set base, there is a talented group of coaches.
“We have good coaches, too. We have a new assistant coach and nutritional staff,” said Davila. “I think the team is good as a whole. Everything is going well.”
They should be going well. At times during the summer, the Matadors even trained more than twice a day.
“This is the fifth practice in less than 48 hours,” said Davila after one of those practices. “We are getting tired, but we are improving on our toughness.”
Even though a coaches’ preseason poll predicts that the Matadors will again finish fourth in the conference this year, CSUN has the potential to be a top performer in the league due to experience, attitude, and “passion.”
“The improvement is not only physical and technical,” said Davila. “But also mental. We are going to put passion in our games.”
The first game of the season will be part of the CSUN tournament and will be held at the Matador Soccer Field on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Georgetown will be the rival. Two days later, CSUN will host Alabama A’M at 2:30 p.m.