Today’s match for the Northridge (7-5-1, 2-2 Big West Conference) men’s soccer squad has the elements of a trap game if it isn’t careful.
The Matadors are fresh off an impressive upset over then-No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, Sunday, and have a short turnaround time when a 5-10 UC Davis team comes to Matador Field for a crucial Big West match. The Aggies are next to last in conference at 2-4.
When asked if he was concerned over a possible let down coming off such an emotional high, senior forward Cameron Sims responded as clear as can be.
“We’re bringing this intensity to practice,” he said after the UCSB match. “No matter what, it’s going to stay all the way up to [today] and throughout the rest of the season.”
When asked about his team’s confidence level after a such a significant victory, CSUN Coach Terry Davila simply stated, “We’ll see [today]. Let’s wait until [today].
“They know what’s at stake,” Davila said. “We need three [conference] points, just as important as the Santa Barbara game. “
Sunday’s win moved the Matadors out of their next-to-last standing and into a tie for fourth place with UC Irvine, and with this match being one of the remaining six, could conceivably move them into a tie for third.
But Davila noted that his team gained something other than just a win versus the Gauchos. He said the team gained some of its toughness back, and moved away from a finesse style of play.
“It wasn’t the way Northridge plays,” he said. “We were too finesse-oriented. And I don’t want to be just known as a finesse-oriented team. You got to be able to have brains and brawn.”
The last thing the Matadors need is another set-back in conference. Players and coaches were frustrated over their disappointing loss at Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 7 – a game that many familiar with Big West soccer expected Northridge to win. Nevertheless, conference matches are a whole different animal, and the Titans came away with the overtime win. Fullerton is currently third at 3-2.
The Matadors will likely be favored today, with Davis being on a three-game losing streak and dropping five out of its last eight games. One win of note was its 2-1 double overtime victory at Irvine.
The Aggies are allowing an average of 1.7 goals to opponents and have a 1-6 record on the road. Are those the ingredients for Northridge’s third conference win? Davila and his squad hope so, for playoff sakes.
Northridge dropped last season’s match at Davis, 3-2.