Matadors women’s soccer suffers back-to-back losses

CSUN forward/midfielder Sam Bustamante dribbles the ball on the attack against USC in Northridge, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022.

Mark Armendariz-Gonzales, Reporter

It was not a kind week for CSUN women’s soccer as they dropped points both at home and on the road, struggling after a close first half against CSU Bakersfield that could have led to their first win since August.

Going into the week, the Matadors sat on a 1-6 record and were on a five-game losing streak. The team hoped to turn things around this week with their first home win of the season and a victory in their first Big West Conference game. However, CSUN’s California rivals had other plans.

The Matadors’ bad week started on Sunday when their home game against the Anteaters (4-2-1) was canceled due to a threat made toward the CSUN campus. After authorities resolved the issue, the game was rescheduled for the following day at 7 p.m. An extra day of rest, however, did not work in the Matadors favor, as they lost the close game at home, 2-1.

UC Irvine started the game hot. In the tenth minute, forward Alex Jaquez sent a pass to the far post for forward Sophie Gillies to tap in for a 1-0 lead. Trailing early in the game, the Matadors had to shift gears offensively and ended up firing four shots on goal in the first half. None went in, and the Anteaters went to the break up one goal.

UC Irvine doubled its lead early in the second half when Jaquez set up forward Desiree Mendoza for a header in the 49th minute. The Matadors continued to fight the rest of the half and were rewarded late in the game. Freshman forward/midfielder Harlee Martin-Ditillo was fouled in the penalty box and awarded a penalty. Junior Cindy Arteaga stepped up to take it and gave the Matadors their only goal of the night in the 90th minute. This was the team’s fourth goal of the season and Arteaga’s third.

“Cindy is playing well and is extremely fun to watch,” said CSUN head coach Christine Johnson.

CSUN then traveled to CSU Bakersfield (3-5), where the two teams faced off in their first Big West Conference game of the season Thursday night. Going into the game, history was in favor of the Matadors, as they were 3-0 when playing on the Roadrunners’ field. The thing about history, however, is that it does not always repeat itself, as the Matadors lost for the first time at CSUB, 3-1.

CSUN started the game strong, playing a great balance of offense and defense in the first half. Arteaga and freshman forward/midfielder Cassidy Imperial-Pham led the Matadors attack, and in the 11th minute Arteaga scored in the upper left corner, racking up her fourth goal of the season and giving her team their first lead since they beat California Baptist on Aug. 20.

While the CSUN attack was handling business, so was the defense. The Matadors were quick to put a stop to any pressure the Roadrunners’ attack placed on them. In the first half, CSUN only allowed three shots on goal.

At the end of the first half, the Matadors were in full control of the game and playing with extreme confidence. Everything seemed to be clicking and at this point it was their game to lose. The second half was a different story though, and could only be described as a nightmare for the Matadors.

CSUB made all the necessary adjustments at halftime to get back on track and they came out blazing as soon as the second half started. Their pressure proved to be too much for CSUN and there was no stopping them this time around. The Matadors’ defense fell apart in the second half, allowing 18 shots on goal. After constant pressure from the Roadrunners, CSUN gave up an accidental hand ball, resulting in a penalty kick for CSUB. Forward Jette Zimmer scored and tied up the game 1-1 in the 55th minute.

The Matadors’ attack tried to pressure again, but could not take advantage of opportunities.

It was up to freshman goalkeeper Hayden Mauldin to keep the Matadors in the game. Mauldin had four saves in the second half, making a diving stop in the 70th minute.

“Hayden is playing out of her mind!” Johnson said. “I am so impressed by her ability to step in as a true freshman and have such an immediate impact.”

Mauldin could only do so much, and in the 72nd minute, CSUB took the lead 2-1 when a corner kick set up defender Anela Nigito to head the ball into the back of the net. The Matadors ultimately put the nail in their own coffin when a CSUN defender ended up scoring an own goal in the 83rd minute off a shot by Kalea Eichenberger. The CSUN women’s soccer team was a shadow of its first-half self during the second half of the game.

“We are disappointed in the result,” said Johnson. “We are disappointed in our response after our goal and our ability to manage the game on Thursday evening.”

The Matadors’ season continues Thursday night when they face CSU Fullerton at home.