CSUN out to prove So Cal is the best

Alejandro Arpiza

Caption Needed
Defender and midfielder Yuval Barak and the Matadors will face Tulsa and SMU at the Prego Italian Express Invitational in Dallas, Texas, this weekend. Photo Caption: Sam Bendall / Contributing Photographer

When a men’s soccer team from Southern California steps on the scene of an out-of-state tournament, the attention can soon be drawn towards them – and rightfully so.

So Cal is arguably the cradle of the best soccer played from AYSO to high school and college. The talent pool and level of play is unrivaled nationwide. Starting Friday, Cal State Northridge will try and prove that reputation as it embarks on its toughest challenge to date on the young season.

The Matadors (3-1-0) will participate in the Prego Italian Express Invitational Friday and Sunday in Dallas TX, and will match up with top 30 competition in Tulsa University and Southern Methodist University.

Matador players were chomping at the bit to get started in Dallas and show their opponents what west coast soccer is all about, according to several players.

“We don’t only represent ourselves, we represent California,” said senior forward Cameron Sims. “Everybody thinks west coast teams can’t do this and that, but we go into [the] east coast or…Texas and we’re gonna show them what Southern California teams are all about.”

The “this and that” that Sims referred to is a reputation of California flashiness and a perceived lack of physical play, according to Coach Terry Davila.

“There’s a reputation that California boys think they’re stylish and they think – especially Southern California boys – that they’re the best soccer players in the United States,” said Davila. “Most Midwest teams are tough.”

The Matadors will be in potentially hostile territory, with SMU (2-2-0) serving as host and Tulsa just north. Besides UC Santa Barbara, Tulsa (2-2-1) will be CSUN’s toughest match. The Golden Hurricanes have already played the No. 1 and No. 25 schools in the nation in Akron University and Northwestern University – losing to both.

“SMU and Tulsa are going to be very competitive because we’re going to be in there neck-of-the woods and we have to deal with a lot of different things” he said. “There are some astringent things that we’ll have to deal with up there, and we’re excited about that opportunity.”

The Matadors have not cracked the NCAA’s Far West rankings yet, but a strong performance in Dallas will surely give CSUN regional and national recognition. The team is coming off a 2-0 performance as host of the Matador Invitational last Friday and Sunday, were named co-champions along with Cal State Fullerton. But clearly, the Dallas trip will serve as a bigger measuring stick for CSUN.

“Definitely a bigger challenge,” said third-year sophomore Rafael Garcia. “We gotta be on are toes and be ready for anything.”