Women’s soccer wins Big West Conference opener, 3-2, against Cal Poly Mustangs

Kendall Capps

Big West Battle: On the right midfiedler Erin Kelly goes up against Cal Poly's Afton Thulin, in Friday's 3-2 CSUN victory. Photo Credit: Mizuho Yamada / Contributing Photographer
Big West Battle: Midfiedler Erin Kelly, right goes up against Cal Poly's Afton Thulin, in Friday's 3-2 CSUN victory. Photo Credit: Mizuho Yamada / Contributing Photographer

On Friday afternoon the CSUN women’s soccer team opened its conference schedule against the Cal Poly Mustangs at Matador Field. The game was a battle of attrition that ended in a 3-2 Matador win.

From the start, CSUN played with a ton of energy and intensity. The Matadors had a few solid chances in the opening minutes, leading to the first goal of the game.

In the eighth minute, midfielder Sonia Espitia made a great pass to the left side, setting up midfielder Heidi Farran for a breakaway. The Mustang defender tackled her from behind in the box, setting up a penalty kick. Farran made good on the penalty kick giving Northridge the 1-0 lead.

A few minutes later, Matador goalkeeper Kellie Drenner made a diving save, but injured her knee in the process (possibly giving her flashbacks to a knee injury from a year ago that forced her to miss the 2008 season). Fortunately for the Matadors, this injury is not as severe. Junior backup goalie Leah Elliot took Drenner’s place in net.

Two minutes after the injury, the Matadors scored again. Espitia sent a great cross off a corner kick into the box, where junior Desiree Cardenas put a header into the back right corner of the goal. Espitia was

credited with the assist.

Shortly after the goal, the Mustangs started putting a little pressure on Northridge. In the 24th minute, sophomore midfielder Tiffany Gummow took a shot from about 35 yards out that slipped right by Elliot’s outstretched fingers and into the net.

It was a bit shaky, I thought they were going to come back, but we stepped it up,” Cardenas said.

The soft goal for Cal Poly seemed to energize the Mustangs, as they carried the play the rest of the half, but the Matadors held the lead going into halftime 2-1.

Early in the second half, the Mustangs had a great chance to tie the game, but Elliot made a great jumping save to her right to maintain the lead. A third of the way into the second half, Elliot dove for another ball and was kicked in the face accidentally by a Mustang forward. She was forced to come

out of the game, with blood pouring from her face.

Drenner re-entered the game, only to hurt her knee again seconds later. The Matadors had only dressed two goalies for the game, so freshman defender Katie Russ was put into goal.

Right when he (head coach Keith West) called my name, I knew I was going in,” Russ said. “I had to get my mind set, think about playing goal, and do what it takes to help my team.”

Russ had played goal when she was little, and once in high school as an injury replacement, but beyond that she had no experience. Head coach West was confident in Russ’ abilities in net.

She’s an athlete that can make big plays,” West said. “She’s a winner and a competitor.”

A few moments later, Cardenas kicked the ball over the defense, and junior forward Farryn Townley kept herself onside for a breakout. Townley came down on the right and shot for the far side. The ball hit the post and went in, giving Northridge the 3-1 lead. However, the Mustangs were not going away that easily.

With just over 10 minutes left, senior defender Kaleena Andruss took a great cross from teammate Cici Kobinski, and deposited it into the back of the net. It was a perfect shot in traffic, creating a one-goal game once again.

The final minutes had a ton of tension, as both sides had multiple close chances. Fortunately for CSUN, the Mustangs could not score again and Northridge walked away with a 3-2 victory.

Our goal all along is to win the Big West conference, so I am really excited about how we played today with our effort and energy,” West said.