The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN men’s soccer looks to rebound in Big West opener against UCR

Having gone win-less in the Matador Challenge over the weekend, the Northridge (5-2-1) men’s soccer squad was bounced from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America top 25. For a team that had won its previous two tournaments, the scoreless double-overtime tie and 2-1 loss was not the sort of performance that enabled it to sky-rocket to the national poll.

But the perfect solution for an angry Matadors team might very well come in the form of today’s conference opener at UC Riverside. The Highlanders are off to meager 1-6-0 start and are coming off a season in which they went a dismal 4-15-1, recording only a single win in the Big West Conference.

But the Matadors’ performance at Fullerton last Friday and Sunday still left some scratching their heads.

“It was a real disappointment,” said redshirt freshman defender Joe Franco. “We felt that we actually played better than we did in [the previous tournament], the results just didn’t come.”

And not for a lack of effort. The Matadors out-shot both Denver and Coastal Carolina and dominated ball possession. But the number of shots taken can be a misleading stat, according to Coach Terry Davila.

“I think we took too many shots from too far out,” Davila said.

Both Franco and Davila say it’s a nice feather in the cap being ranked nationally, as the Matadors’ standing as the 24th-ranked team lasted all of about a week. The team was previously ranked fourth in the NSCAA Far West poll and now ranks No. 8. But the most important thing to them, they say, is making the postseason.

“I don’t care if I’m No. 1 in the nation,” Davila said. “If I don’t get in the playoffs, I don’t care about the rankings. We want the opportunity to get into the big dance, the big show. That is our goal.”

The big show Davila refers to is the national men’s soccer tournament.

At the same time he said it’s good for his players to learn how to handle the pressure of being a nationally-ranked team. “It’s a different thing to hunting someone than being hunted.”

And hunting is what Franco and his teammates will do, against a team which they will be heavily favored over. Northridge and Riverside share one common opponent, having played Loyola Marymount already. The Matadors won their match while the Highlanders were defeated by the Lions, extending their current losing streak to three.

But as a conference opponent, Davila knows all too well that these types of games are a different challenge all together, saying, “There’s no secrets between us. They’re gonna come out tough and they’re gonna try and wreck our game.”

Today’s game is Northridge’s sixth consecutive road game.

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