This weekend could go a long way toward the Cal State Northridge women’s soccer team (8-8, 4-2 Big West) making the Big West conference tournament.
Northridge and UC Santa Barbara are tied with 12 points for second place, and at the end of the regular season the top four teams make the conference tournament. However, both UC Irvine and Pacific are hot on their tails, creating four teams fighting for three spots.
CSUN will play Cal State Bakersfield in a non-conference match Friday, before the big showdown against UC Irvine Sunday at Matador Field. The loser of that game could easily end up being the odd one out.
Northridge is coming off an impressive road trip, where they finished with three consecutive shutout wins.
“They’re starting to click and get after it,” head coach Keith West said. “Sometimes you have to believe you are going to win, and you have to learn how to win. I think the girls are learning how to win.”
CSUB is 4-8-2 on the season, with a surprising 2-2-2 record against the Big West conference, including a 2-1 victory over Cal Poly, who is arguably the best team in the conference.
Despite the relative success against the Big West, Bakersfield has not won a game since Sept. 11, when they defeated Eastern Washington.
On the flip side, Northridge is coming into the game with a lot of momentum.
“Our defense is pretty solid, we are scoring the chances when we get them, and we’re not giving up silly goals,” said West.
Due to injuries and inconsistency in net, the team had given up a lot of easy goals earlier in the year. Since freshman goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo was placed as the starting keeper, CSUN is 3-0 without giving up a goal.
“I’m playing with a great group of girls out here, and I know that my defense has helped me a lot,” Jacobo said. “We really want to reach the Big West tournament so we need to keep bringing the energy that we have brought the last three games and take it as far as we can.”
Following the non-conference game against CSUB, Northridge will play host to the Anteaters of UC Irvine.
Irvine is 10-5-2 on the year and is 3-2-1 in conference, placing them two points behind CSUN. This will be the biggest game of the year for the Matadors.
The Anteaters have outscored their opponents 32-17 this year, and have posted 110 more shots. They also have a deep offensive team, with three girls scoring at least four goals this season.
Junior forward Tanya Taylor and freshman forward Dana Sanderlin lead the team with six goals and four assists. Irvine also has two other freshmen that have 12 points apiece.
They are not only solid offensively, but in goal also. Junior goalkeeper Danielle de Seriere is 9-5-2 on the year with seven shutouts. Clearly this game will be a tough test for the Matadors.
After the weekend, Northridge will have one more regular season game remaining. They will host Long Beach State next Sunday. The Matadors look to gain as many points as possible, in hopes of reaching and hosting a conference tournament game.