CSUN controlling their own destiny

Alejandro Arpiza

Today Senior Sunghuyn Kim (10) will play his last game at Matador Field against the Titans. Photo Credit: Caitlin McCarrick / Staff Photographer
Today Senior Sunghuyn Kim (10) will play his last game at Matador Field against the Titans.Photo Credit: Caitlin McCarrick / Staff Photographer

All season, CSUN’s men’s soccer coach Terry Davila has said his team’s top priority is getting to postseason play, and today, at Matador Field, they get the opportunity to take control of their own playoff fate.

Although the postseason has not begun in the Big West Conference, Davila and his players have gone into their final homestand with the mindset that they are in a playoff situation, as they find themselves tied, at 3-4-1, with Cal State Fullerton for the fourth and final playoff spot in conference.

And guess who comes today to Senior Day?

Fullerton (7-8-2) comes to Matador Field also fighting for the final spot. At 10 points each, the loser of today’s match will be left out of the four-team playoff. UC Davis also has 10 points, but is at a disadvantage because it has one more loss than the Matadors and Titans.

After Northridge (8-7-2) defeated UC Riverside last Saturday to keep its postseason hopes alive, Davila and several of his players referred to the victory as playoff game number one. The scenarios are clear, and his players know what is at stake, Davila said. If CSUN wins, they secure fourth place, regardless of what happens in all three team’s season finale, Saturday, because it holds the tie-breakers. Should the Matadors lose or tie, Fullerton advances because of head-to-head competition, even if they end up with 13 points each.

“We can control our own destiny (today), and I like that,” said Davila. “We had an opportunity last year, and we failed on our home field. We got a chance to redeem ourselves.”

The Titans defeated CSUN at Fullerton in their first meeting, 2-1, in overtime. The concern exists that if the situation presents itself in the match, that Fullerton will simply try and secure the tie to advance. But Davila is confident that his team will get opportunities to score.

As for the player’s preparation, redshirt sophomore Rafael Garcia, one of two team captains, said it is his role to keep the team focused.

“I know for a fact that it’s the biggest game of the season, it’s for all the marbles,” said Garcia. “We’re pretty calm, we know what we have to do and the task that’s at-hand.”

Last season, Northridge faced a similar situation. Going into the season finale against eventual conference and tournament champ UC Irvine, the Matadors needed a win or tie to secure fourth place. But in the final minutes of play, Irvine broke the 1-1 tie and eliminated CSUN from playoff contention.

Today’s 2 p.m. match can either be a sight of elation for a team that has scrapped all season for an opportunity to advance, or be the second-to-last game ever played in a Matador uniform for the seniors on the squad.

Titan to watch: The midfielder, Oscar Aguero, scored both goals in the team’s first match at Fullerton, a 2-1 victory in overtime. If the Titans come to play for a victory, look for the offense to try and facilitate him once again on their long kicks.

Matadors to watch: On Senior Day Chad Borak, Devin Deldo, Moy Gomez, Sunghuyn Kim, Robert Pate, Milan Radovic, Dylan Riley, Ruben, Rodriguez, Cameron Sims, and Luis Smith will compete in their last game at Matador Field. Beating Fullerton to clinch a berth in the Big West tournament would be the perfect ending for the 10 seniors at Matador Field.