It didn’t count in the record books, but it counted where, perhaps, it matters most.
In the players’ confidence meter.
The Matadors (0-0-0) began the 2008 campaign on Saturday with an exhibition game at UC Berkeley and a 1-0 overtime win that got them absolutely nothing record-wise, but gave them a boost of confidence to kick off the real season on Friday, when they host Georgetown.
“Every time that any one of our players steps on the field, it counts,” said Matador forward Devin Deld’oacute;. “Every time we touch the ball, we take it serious and I think no matter what, whether it’s an exhibition or not, it’s extremely important to us. ”
For 90 minutes, neither team could break into the rival’s field deep enough to open the score, hence placing both Matadors and Bears in sudden-death overtime. It looked as if the game would remain without a goal for its entirety, but fortunately for Northridge, junior forward Moy Gomez managed to find the back of Cal’s net just seven minutes before the final whistle blew. Gomez took a cross from junior Sunghyun Kim and put the ball to the right of David Bingham, California’s goalkeeper. Junior forward Milan Radovic also picked up an assist on the play.
Northridge came a long way to pull out the win, considering they overcame a first half that saw the Golden Bears shoot on goal five times. Luckily, Kevin Guppy was there to repel the danger. Guppy, the Matadors’ all-time leader in wins and shutouts, had a total of six saves for the game.
Matador head coach Terry Davila wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in the first 45 minutes, but was pleased with the adjustments from the on.
“We started playing better towards the end of the second half,” said Davila. “We allowed a lot of turnovers, too many of them in the first half. I was happy we cut our turnovers and gave ourselves more opportunities to win the game.”
The CSUN men also had their goal chances, especially after halftime. They outshot Cal 7-2 in the second half and continued to attack in the extra period. Then, in the last overtime, the Bear defense finally budged, giving Northridge -unofficially- its first win of the season.
The victory was a bit of an upset. Cal is a defending back-to-back Pac-10 Conference champion.
“It should be a little confidence booster,” said Deld’oacute;. “What we’re going to take from this win is that we shouldn’t be scared of any team in the nation because we know what we’re capable of when we bring our ‘A’ game.”
The Matadors now look to start the official season with a home win over Big East Conference member Georgetown on Friday during the opening of the Northridge tournament. The Hoyas went 7-11-1 last season. Then on Sunday, the Matadors will take on Alabama A’M.
Davila likes the challenge of taking on some unfamiliar rivals and looks to see two things from his team. He wants the Matadors to reduce a particular stat and add to another.
“It’s an opportunity to play against a Big East school,” said Davila. “We’re trying to be the best we can be in every game. We are going to focus on cutting down our turnovers and, hopefully, create more scoring opportunities for ourselves.”
The game against Georgetown will be played at 4:30 p.m. at Matador Field. CSUN will face Alabama A’M at 2:30 p.m. at the same venue.