The second-seeded Cal State Northridge (10-9, 6-2 Big West) hosts the opening round of the Big West Tournament against the archrival No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. today at Matador Field.
The game will be a rematch from earlier in the season when the Gauchos came to Northridge and walked away with a 3-2 victory.
During the game, UCSB scored 34 seconds into the game, and outplayed the Matadors for most of the game. CSUN played hard toward the end and scored two late goals to tie it up 2-2, only to give up the game winner with a few minutes remaining.
The Matadors look to redeem themselves and earn a spot in the conference championship with a win.
“You train and you play for moments like this. This moment only comes around once in a while, and we’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity,” head coach Keith West said.
Coming into this game, CSUN has won five consecutive conference games. All five games were won 1-0, with freshman goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo recording the five shutouts.
Jacobo has been one of the great stories of the season. She began the year fourth on the depth chart, but due to injuries and inconsistent play in net was given a shot at the starting job.
It would be an understatement to say that she has made the most of it. She has played over 500 minutes without giving up a goal, and recorded five shutouts, which ranks fifth in the conference.
“I should have played her from the first game. I should have started her and played her every game,” West said.
It would have been difficult to see this coming from the freshman, but the team is just excited to have her playing so well.
With an appearance in today’s game, senior defender Sydney Vermillion will set a school record for games played. Seniors Kelley Ross, Niki Connolly and Sydney Vermillion hope this will not be their last game of their collegiate career.
The depth of the team has improved as the season has progressed. All season long, junior forward Farryn Townley has led the team in goals and points, but the contributions off the bench have made a big difference.
Junior defender Desiree Cardenas, senior forward Niki Connolly and freshman midfielder Melissa Fernandez have all contributed throughout the year, and given coach West helpful minutes.
If the Matadors can pull this game off, they will play the winner of the No. 4 seed UC Irvine versus the No. 1 seed Cal Poly in the conference championship.
The location of the game would depend on who wins that game. Earlier this year, CSUN defeated Irvine 1-0 and Cal Poly 3-2, both at home.