Matadors out for revenge against Irvine

Alejandro Arpiza

Defender Chad Borak battles with Nick Brant of Denver in a game earlier this season at Titan Stadium. Sundial File Photo.
Defender Chad Borak battles with Nick Brant of Denver in a game earlier this season at Titan Stadium. Sundial File Photo.

It has been so long since the Northridge men’s soccer squad has played a home game that senior Dylan Riley recently joked that his team can’t even remember what it’s like playing at Matador Field.

“Just (a few days ago) we were walking by the game field and it’s almost like what is this place, we don’t even remember what this field looks like. ”

CSUN concluded their seven game road trip after losing to Cal State Fullerton 2-1 in overtime Wednesday night at Titan Stadium. The Matadors are now 6-4-1 overall and 1-1 in Big West Conference play. The team returns home for the first time since Sept. 13 to face defending Big West champ UC Irvine, Saturday at 3 p.m.

When the Matadors and Anteaters step onto the field, however, CSUN Coach Terry Davila, Riley and any returning player from a season ago will surely remember what took place the last time the two schools met last November.

Going into the last game of the regular season, CSUN needed a win or tie to advance into postseason play, and for more than 86 minutes, the Matadors were on the doorstep of qualifying with a 1-1 tie. However, in the 87th minute Irvine stuck a dagger into the Matadors’ playoff hopes with a game-winning goal.

What made the loss even more tough was the fact that Irvine, essentially, did not need the victory to qualify for postseason – it had already assured itself a playoff spot. Nevertheless, the victory propelled the Anteaters to a 5-1-4 conference record, one point better that UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, which tied for second.

The Matadors had endured an injury-riddled 2008 season in which key players such as forwards Cameron Sims and Moy Gomez and midfielder Rafael Garcia missed most of the season and in the end were on the outside of the conference’s four-team playoff looking in. CSUN finished fifth in the Big West at 4-3-3, just one point behind UC Davis.

The NCAA ended up inviting the top four teams in conference to the national tournament. Irvine, Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and Davis – in that order – were the schools that advanced to the big dance.

The Anteaters have gotten off to a shaky start in conference, having already lost at Santa Barbara and at home to Davis in double overtime. A loss to Northridge Saturday would put Irvine in a tough 0-3 disadvantage in the Big West.