CSUN women’s soccer fights for first Big West win, but falls short

CSUN forward Cindy Arteaga saves the ball from trickling out of bounds at the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Northridge, Calif.

Mark Armendariz-Gonzales, Reporter

A 1-1 draw against UC Davis and a 2-0 loss to UC Santa Barbara kept CSUN women’s soccer winless in Big West Conference play, as the Matadors continued to struggle offensively.

Losing three of four Big West games so far this season, the Matadors (2-10-1, 0-3-1 Big West) have not started off on the right foot. CSUN has only managed to pick up a single point in the conference and currently sits in last place. This week did not go as planned for CSUN, with the Matadors picking up a tie at UC Davis and suffering a tough loss against UC Santa Barbara at home.

The Matadors started the week by traveling to UC Davis, where they faced off against the Aggies (3-4-4, 0-1-2 Big West). CSUN wasted no time putting points on the scoreboard. In the 13th minute of the game, after the ball was deflected by a UC Davis defender, midfielder Ashley Cruz sent a high cross into the Aggies penalty box, where midfielder Cassidy Imperial-Pham lay in wait. The freshman out of Stevenson Ranch, California, was able to smash the ball into the back of the net with a header, giving the Matadors the lead. This was Imperial-Pham’s first goal of her career.

Matadors midfielder Yoshi Rubalcava, right, tries to head the ball away from the Gauchos at the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Connor Clark)

Right before halftime, CSUN had an opportunity to go up 2-0 when senior forward Cindy Arteaga was fouled in the box, giving the Matadors a penalty kick. The top scorer for CSUN missed the target as she kicked her shot wide left of the goal.

The UC Davis offense stepped up in the second half and outshot the Matadors 11-6. The pressure from the Aggies allowed them to break through in the 64th minute, when midfielder Genavieve Fontes poked the ball in for an equalizer.

Both teams had opportunities to take the lead in what remained of the second half, but none of the shots managed to reach the back of the net. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, giving the Matadors their first point in Big West play this season.

After the game at UC Davis, CSUN returned home to battle against UC Santa Barbara (2-6-4, 1-1-1 Big West) on Thursday night. What looked to be a competitive game on paper quickly turned into a nightmare for the Matadors.

Less than two minutes into the game, the Gauchos took advantage of a free kick opportunity. Midfielder Krysten Vasquez sent the ball into the box, where defender Gia Cimring was able to get a touch to it and put UCSB up 1-0.

“It seemed like we were running in quicksand from the time they came out to start warmup,” said CSUN head coach Christine Johnson.

CSUN midfielder Ashly Torres, right, dribbles the ball past UC Santa Barbara midfielder Lauren Helwig at the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Connor Clark)

The Matadors struggled to create any opportunities in the game, managing a total of four shots. CSUN could not stick a shot on target until the 63rd minute. The Matadors midfield suffered without senior Brooke Mobeck, who missed the game due to an injury. This was Mobeck’s first missed game of her two-year career at CSUN.

“I think not having Brooke had a negative impact on us, and we felt it,” Johnson said. “It was kind of a hole in the midfield.”

The Gauchos attacked nonstop throughout the game, firing a total of 14 shots, with five of them being on target. CSUN would give in to the pressure once again in the 37th minute, when forward Meg Burling headed the ball into the net to double UCSB’s lead.

The Gauchos went on to win the game 2-0, keeping the Matadors from achieving their first Big West win of the season.

“We will look ahead,” Johnson said. “We do not dwell on negative results, but it is hard to put into words what is going on right now. There is a lot of frustration.”

The Matadors have since lost to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 3-0. Their season continues Thursday at 7 p.m. when they host University of Hawaii.