CSUN women’s soccer beats Irvine, earns Big West tournament spot

Kendall Capps

Northridge forward Melissa Fernandez tries to get by Jackie Samis of Irvine in Sunday's 1-0 victory at Matador Field. Photo Credit: Zara Aleksanyan / Staff Photographer
Northridge forward Melissa Fernandez tries to get by Jackie Samis of Irvine in Sunday's 1-0 victory at Matador Field. Photo Credit: Zara Aleksanyan / Staff Photographer

The Cal State Northridge women’s soccer team (9-9, 5-2 Big West) played a couple of hard-fought games over the weekend. First the Matadors gave up a goal to Cal State Bakersfield with 38 seconds left in the match losing 1-0. In the second game Northridge got the win they needed, a 1-0 victory against Big West rival UC Irvine, clinching a berth in the Big West Tournament.

Entering the weekend, CSUN was tied with UC Santa Barbara for second place in the standings, but UC Irvine and Pacific were right on their heels. With only four teams making the tournament, the remaining conference games are crucial.

Friday afternoon, the Matadors hosted Cal State Bakersfield in a non-conference match-up. Due to the importance of Sunday’s conference game against the Anteaters, most of the starters got some rest during the game.

Both teams played a bit sloppily, turning the ball over and went without creating many offensive chances. The teams remained scoreless until the final minute, when Roadrunner junior midfielder Alexandria Ngo took a shot from the corner of the box and deposited it into the top of the net for the game winner.

Despite the loss, Northridge was able to take a lot out of the game.

“We got a chance to play some kids that haven’t had a lot of minutes this year,” head coach Keith West. “We had a couple of players show some really good things.”

Resting the starters turned out to work well for the Matadors on Sunday.

The weather had a profound impact on the game, with the wind blowing at over 20 miles an hour. The first half saw the Matadors going into the wind, making it difficult to complete passes through the air.

Irvine, with the wind at their backs, put consistent pressure on setting up the game-changing play. With just over four minutes left in the first half, an Irvine midfielder sent a cross into the box right onto the foot of an Anteater forward, who hit the perfect shot toward the corner of the net.

However, freshman goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo made an unbelievable diving save. She lunged to her left and barely got a hand on the ball, pushing it aside. The save kept Jacobo’s streak alive; she has now started her career at CSUN with four consecutive conference shutouts and has played 417 scoreless minutes.

It’s not only Jacobo stepping up her game; the Matador defense has been a big part of the scoreless streak.

“They’ve helped me so much back there. Without them, it’s not possible. They’re always there bringing my energy up and boosting my confidence,” Jacobo said.

Coming out of half, the Matadors appeared to be re-vitalized, moving the ball swiftly until they created the biggest goal of the year.

Just six minutes into the second half, junior defender Jasmine Pratt took a pass from junior forward Farryn Townley down the right side. Pratt sent a cross into the box right on the foot of sophomore forward Heidi Farran, who booted the ball into the net for the game-winning goal.

The goal was one of the biggest moments of Farran’s career.

“This was a really big goal … up at the top of the list,” Farran said.

The goal was Farran’s third of the season, and Pratt and Townley were credited with the assists.

CSUN now has 15 points in conference and could finish anywhere from first to third in the standings, depending on their last game.

Next Sunday, Northridge will host Long Beach State in the regular season’s final game.

“We’re going to keep playing the way we’ve been playing. I don’t think we should change anything,” Farran said.