Styles make matches, and the Cal State Northridge men’s soccer squad is a tough defending team that likes to set the tempo and attack on offense. UC Davis likes to sit back defensively and counter-attack.
Both sides on Wednesday did not give, as they played to a 0-0 double overtime tie at Matador Field, the first draw in Big West Conference play.
The Matadors now drop to 2-2-1 in conference and 7-5-2 overall. The Big West had a full schedule Wednesday, and depending on the results, could drop them out of their tie for fourth place.
Both sides had key opportunities in overtime, but the stingy defense in this match held all offense out of the back of the net.
“You don’t know what to feel,” said CSUN coach Terry Davila. “We got two shutouts in a row – and that’s a positive. The negative is we only got one goal in our last three games. “
Davis out-shot the Matadors, 4-2, in the first half, and had the first clear threat at a goal. The Aggies’ point-blank shot from inside the box was stopped by freshman goalie Michael Abalos, who recorded his third shutout of his career. Both sides managed just two shots on-goal in the first 45.
The Aggies employed a slower and deliberate, defensive style of play, choosing to keep most of their players in Northridge’s offensive third.
In the second half, Davis turned up its offensive attack and looked to break the scoreless tie. But it was Northridge that almost broke the ice, as senior midfielder Sunghyun Kim beautifully centered a pass from the left sideline into the box for a Cameron Sims header. But the ball sailed over the crossbar.
With under 20 minutes, Davis goalie Ryan McCowan made a superb fingertip save on freshman Rene Anguiano’s shot to the right side while cutting through the Aggies’ defense in the box.
Abalos made a crucial stop of his own with a little over five minutes in regulation with a stop of a Davis shot from about 15 yards out on his left side.
“I thought we worked hard,” said Abalos. “We’re not disappointed. It’s in the past now, we have to look forward now to Saturday.”
And Saturday will bring another crucial three-point opportunity in conference for the Matadors, when they travel to Cal Poly and face a Mustang team that, going into Wednesday, was tied for first place at 4-1 with UC Santa Barbara.
Northridge is not yet in striking distance of catching the Mustangs, but is still alive to jockey for position in the middle of the Big West pack to finish in the top four.
In recent days Davila had said that his team started to play with more finesse and got away from what, as he says, is Northridge style of soccer, which involves being physical and tough.
“We got to be able to mix both,” said Davila. “Defense gives you a chance to win, that’s all it does. You’ve got to win the game offensively. We manufactured a goal against Santa Barbara [Saturday] but we didn’t manufacture one against Davis.
“I’m a little disappointed that we haven’t manufactured a goal in our last three games.”
Northridge now trails the all-time series with Davis, four games to two with two ties. Wednesday’s tie will not move the Aggies out of their next-to-last standing, but does give both teams another point in conference.
Northridge has five Big West games remaining, which represent a possible 15 points.