When a rivalry between two soccer programs starts to become as one sided as this, perhaps it no longer is a rivalry. Maybe it is simply a game that harbors some ill feelings from the team on the losing end – in this case the Cal State Northridge men’s squad.
After being blanked, 2-0, by the Lobos of New Mexico (6- 3-0) in Albuquerque, the Matadors now have an 0-6 record at the Lobos’ den. It also extends CSUN’s losing streak to five games against what head coach Terry Davila called the team’s “biggest out-of-conference rival.”
New Mexico currently ranks sixth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Far West poll and might very well crack the national top 25 with the convincing win over Northridge (6-3-1, 1-0 in Big West Conference play, and ranked eighth in the Far West).
Before departing for New Mexico, Davila had acknowledged that his teams in recent years have gotten the shorter end in the two teams’ heated non-conference battles.
“We have to go and catch them,” Davila said.
The match-up reached heartwrenching status for Northridge in 2005, when the Matadors were eliminated in the NCAA’s Round of 16 by the Lobos in Albuquerque, 1-0, in overtime.
When reminded of that elimination match, Davila commented on the winning goal in that hard-fought game. Yet, he was visibly displeased with what occurred after that loss.
That 2005 crowd of over 5,000 spectators – mostly UNM supporters – stormed the field, putting his players in danger amongst the raucous crowd, according to Davila.
More recently, the two schools faced off in 2007, with UNM hammering Northridge, 4-0 at Matador Field.
On Saturday, the Lobos went ahead early on a Michael Green goal in the 10th minute of play. The sophomore forward found the back corner of the CSUN net off a Ryan Farquharson assist.
The Matadors edged out the Lobos in total shots taken, 14- 12, but could not capitalize. In the 84th minute, Green wouldput the game out of reach with his second goal of the match, this time unassisted.
Saturday’s loss marked the third time the Matadors have been shut out this season. The shutout was unexpected, since UNM had been averaging over one goal allowed per game.
Freshman Michael Abalos again got the start as goalkeeper over third-year sophomore Brandon Ibarra, and Abalos now has a record of 3-2-1 in front of the net. Ibarra’s record is 3-1. Davila had said he wanted his players to focus on the challenge at hand in New Mexico, saying, “We can’t play only with our heart, we have to play with our brain.” But early in the match, the Matadors did exactly what they could not afford to do on the road against a quality opponent like UNM, which was fall behind by a goal.
The Matadors are 0-3 when trailing by two goals in a match.
The loss was Northridge’s sixth consecutive road match out of seven, a stretch that will conclude on Wednesday when the Matadors face Cal State Fullerton (4-5-1, 0-1) in another conference game. The Titans have lost three in a row, and are 1-4-1 since being named cochampions with Northridge at the Matador Invitational.
The Matadors are 1-2-1 since having their five-game winning streak snapped and will face only conference opponents the rest of the way.