CSUN women’s soccer hits early-season slide

The Matadors form a wall as USC prepares to take a free kick in Northridge, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022.

Mark Armendariz-Gonzales, Reporter

With the start of a new school year comes a new season for the CSUN women’s soccer team. The new season brings a fresh start for the Matadors and an opportunity to improve on their record from last season.

The 2021 season was not a kind one for CSUN women’s soccer, with the team finishing 3-17. To make matters worse, the team did not qualify for the Big West 2021 Women’s Soccer Championship, a feat the team last achieved in 2019.

While there are many aspects as to why the team has struggled, such as the pandemic and the loss of key players, head coach Christine Johnson is here to help the team rebound. This will be Johnson’s first official season as head coach after she spent last season as the acting head coach. With her new status, Johnson has some personal goals she would like her team and herself to achieve.

Brooke Mobeck, 23, slides in front of the USC attacker as she attempts to knock the ball away in Northridge, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. (Aliyah Hinckley)

“We want to win,” said Johnson. “We want the athletes to have a good experience. This group is focused on maintaining a healthy culture amongst the team.”

So far this season, the team is struggling. With six games already under their belts, the team is sitting at a record of 1-6.

“We have a tough conference schedule, but I would not change it,” said Johnson. “We have to be competitive to the best of our abilities.”

The team is facing issues both offensively and defensively on the field. In just seven games, the Matadors have conceded 26 goals, and have only managed to score three.

“Nobody has been super consistent. Everything right now is an overall team effort. We have to have the ability to stay present and in the moment,” said the new head coach. “This is what ends up costing us the game.”

When it comes to how the team can fix the issues at hand, Johnson says the key is just focusing on the simple things. This includes working on fitness and technical ability, putting less focus on the ball and fine-tuning the basics.

Another major issue the team is dealing with is the comings and goings of freshmen and veteran players. Of the 32-player roster, only 12 were on the team last year. Johnson acknowledged that as of right now the team is in rebuild mode, and it will take some time to get the team to the level they want and think they should be at.

Cindy Arteaga, 10, leads the Matadors on a counter attack against USC in Northridge, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. (Aliyah Hinckley)

One player to keep an eye out for this season is junior Cindy Arteaga. The midfielder/forward has started the season hot by scoring two of the three goals for the Matadors this season. She has proven herself to be a key piece to this team’s attack.

Although the team has not started the season on the right foot, they still have not lost sight of their ultimate goal. According to Johnson, that goal is to return to the Big West Conference tournament.

Perennial locks for the competition over the past decade, the Matadors have not missed the tournament in back-to-back years since 2007-2008, and they are looking to ensure that does not happen this year.

The CSUN women’s soccer team will continue Monday night at 7 p.m. when they host UC Irvine.