Men’s soccer makes statement Thursday against No. 8 Washington

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Men’s soccer makes statement Thursday against No. 8 Washington

Alexander Nino

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Senior forward Johnny Rodriguez recorded a brace and junior forward Daniel Trejo scored in his fourth consecutive game as the Matadors shocked the no. 8 ranked Washington Huskies 3-1 on Thursday at Matador Soccer Field.

The two star forwards sliced through a Washington defense that had allowed one goal in their previous four games to begin the season while the CSUN defense built upon their impressive start to the year.

“We probably played one of the best teams and coaches in the nation,” head coach Terry Davila said. “You got to tip your cap for them going after everybody in the nation and trying to compete, but it was our day tonight.”

The night started out sloppy for both squads, as heavy touches from each team’s midfielders led to squandered opportunities at goal.

Redshirt senior midfielder Julio Rubio would end this trend in resounding fashion when he slotted a perfect ball through two Husky defenders, leading Rodriguez to a clear shot at goal where he delivered the first blow.

The pass extended Rubio’s conference leading assist total to six and Rodriguez’s fifth goal of the year broke a tie with Trejo for the conference lead.

“Incredible pass by Julio,” said Rodriguez. “I took a good touch and tried to finish on my second and did just that.”

Just under a minute later, graduate defender Ehi Isibor temporarily left the pitch with an injury, making the Matadors play a man short. Despite this, Rodriguez and Trejo were still penetrating on counter attacks, making the Husky defense look flustered for the first time all year.

Isibor would return in time for a throw-in near the CSUN goal in the 24th minute. He threw the ball in front of the goal where Trejo deflected it to Rodriguez at the far post where he headed home his second goal of the night and sixth on the year to make it 2-0.

“I saw a smaller defender on me and tried to put it in the far corner,” said Rodriguez. “Thankfully I hit it well and it went in.”

The shock emanated from the Husky bench as they began to press and make unforced mistakes.

A lazy pass between Washington defenders in their backfield nearly led to a Rodriguez hat trick, but his shot from outside the box sailed a few feet over the crossbar.

The Huskies were then unable to capitalize on a rare mistake by redshirt junior goalkeeper Paul Lewis, who threw a ball directly to a Washington forward, forcing CSUN defenders to foul just outside the box. Husky sophomore defender Ethan Bartlow botched the free kick, which sailed far over goal.

Washington let out some frustration by scuffling with CSUN defenders before the end of the first half, which saw Trejo and Rodriguez outshoot the entire Husky squad 7-5.

“Me and Danny (Trejo) go way back,” said Rodriguez. “We played club together and he was one of the reasons I came to CSUN. Both of us use each other very well on the field and I’m grateful to be playing with him.”

The CSUN defense shined coming out of the break, as the Huskies dominated possession but were unable to penetrate the Matador back line.

CSUN held steady until a lazy Husky pass in the 57th minute was intercepted by Rubio just outside of the box. Rubio found Trejo five yards out and he hammered home his fifth goal of the year to make it 3-0 CSUN.

The frustration from Washington had boiled over, as Bartlow would receive a yellow card for getting in the referee’s face after a non-call.

It was that kind of night for the Matador defense.

“We executed our game plan against them,” said Davila. “I’m very proud of the execution and the team effort. For us to give up one goal shows how good (the Huskies) are.”

That score would come in the 80th minute when Washington redshirt sophomore defender Freddy Kleeman would throw a long ball in front of the Husky goal where redshirt sophomore Lucas Meek picked it out of a scrum and deflected it in for their only score of the contest.

It was a blip on the radar of a banner night for the Matadors, who made a statement after being denied a spot on the national rankings for a second straight week.

CSUN will look to carry the momentum into another marquee matchup at Matador Soccer Field against the no.13 UCLA Bruins on Sunday at 6 p.m.