CSUN men’s soccer loses dogfight to UC Davis

Forward Jamar Ricketts, 11, dribbles the ball down the field against UC Davis on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. File photo by Aliyah Hinckley

Justin Parrott, Reporter

The Matadors dropped a tough battle to UC Davis Saturday night, losing 1-0 after a win against CSU Sacramento three days prior.

Looking to secure their sixth win of the season, CSUN men’s soccer (5-4-3, 2-2 Big West Conference) played physically against UC Davis (3-6-3, 2-1-1 Big West Conference). The Matadors conceded a goal in the first half, but found life when Aggie forward Keegan Walwyn-Bent picked up a red card. Up one player for the entire second half, the Matadors attacked relentlessly but were unable to equalize.

“Our ball movement was a little bit slow to make things happen around the goal,” CSUN head coach Terry Davila said. “The opportunities are coming, we just have to work on our precision.”

Both the Aggies and the Matadors came out scrappy, each team playing fierce early on.

Right from the kickoff, foul trouble gave each team opportunities to score early. Twenty seconds in, a foul on midfielder Sahar Ohayon gave UC Davis a free kick just outside the penalty box. The ball bounced around, deflecting off Aggies and Matadors defenders out of bounds. Minutes later, a foul on Aggies midfielder Andy Velasquez gave CSUN a free kick near the right side of the penalty box, but a similar outcome nullified the opportunity.

Forward David Diaz, 58, dribbles the ball against UC Davis defender Cole Pond, 27, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. (Aliyah Hinckley)

Defender Dylan Gonzalez placed the ball in the Aggies penalty box with 36 minutes left, but a turnover by the Matadors put the Aggies on the attack. Defender Ryan Dieter possessed the ball in the middle of the field, taking a shot low into CSUN goalie Cooper Wenzel’s hands.

The Aggies continued their attack, taking the early lead. With 33 minutes left, defender Max Glasser controlled the ball, dribbling down the left side of the field. Glasser centered the ball for Dieter into the penalty box. Seeing goalie Wenzel out of position, Dieter shot at the center of the goal, giving the Aggies a 1-0 lead.

The Matadors responded by sparking their own attack.

Forward Oscar Cardenas controlled the ball on the ensuing kickoff. Dribbling toward the penalty box, he blasted a shot, hitting the ball into Aggies goalie Charles Janssen’s hands. Two minutes later, Cardenas dribbled up the left side, centering the ball into the penalty box. Midfielder Jack Rhead jumped in the air, heading the ball toward Janssen, who knocked it away.

A CSUN throw-in gave the Matadors another scoring chance eight minutes later. Deflecting off the head of a UC Davis defender in the penalty area, the ball flew in the air to Gonzalez. The senior launched a bicycle kick, but Janssen caught the ball to keep the Aggies on top.

Defender Dylan Gonzalez, 3, runs to help his teammate against UC Davis on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. (Aliyah Hinckley)

The Matadors continued pushing, and earned a free kick in the middle of the field three minutes later. Cardenas possessed a long pass on the left side of the field. Taking one dribble, he fired a shot but missed high.

The Aggies looked to double their lead two minutes later, when a turnover by Gonzalez gave Walwyn-Bent possession of the ball in the middle of the field. Making two moves, he fired at the goal but had his shot blocked by a CSUN defender.

Toward the end of the first half, frustration was building between both teams as fouls were piling up. Players from each team tangled up, playing for the ball. Some pushing and shoving resulted in a yellow card on Walwyn-Bent. UC Davis head coach Dwayne Shaffer was not pleased, and both coaches argued with each other. This gave each team a yellow. The tension boiled over when CSUN earned a free kick in Aggies territory. Midfielder AJ Johnson prepared to take the free kick, but Walwyn-Bent did not give Johnson room, so the Matadors midfielder had to redo the kick. Letting his emotions out, Walwyn-Bent was flagged with a red card and kicked out of the game.

In the second half, the Matadors made use of their man advantage to put pressure on UC Davis, taking eight shots to the Aggies’ zero.

Midfielder Kanata Furutani got the Matadors going five minutes in. He found the ball in the penalty box after it deflected off a UC Davis defender. As he possessed it, Furutani boomed a kick at the goal that was saved by Janssen. Twelve minutes later, midfielder Marley Edwards made a defender miss on the left side of the field. Positioning himself in the middle of the penalty box, he blasted a shot into the goalie’s hands.

Matadors forward Levin Gerhardt, 8, defends against UC Davis, staying put as defender Ryan Dieter, 6, attempts to juke him out on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. (Daryl Tyler)

The Matadors continued to look for the equalizer, generating five corner kicks in the last 25 minutes of action. Keeping the Aggies on their heels, the Matadors fired shot after shot at the goal, but the shorthanded Aggies held the fort down, blocking one shot and watching three sail over the goal.

The best opportunity for the Matadors came with 10 minutes left, when a corner resulted in the ball being deflected three times in the penalty area. Forward Jamar Ricketts found it, and smoked the ball at Janssen, who caught it toward the center.

Desperately trying to make something happen, the Matadors created one last corner opportunity with 49 seconds left. The ball flew through the air and glanced off two Aggies defenders, finding Ricketts in the middle of the box. He fired, missing high over the goal.

Davila said the Matadors were sluggish, missing many opportunities to score.

“UC Davis is a good and tough team and we had chances to win the game but we didn’t,” Davila said. “We played tough and stuck with them throughout.”

The Matadors will host Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1-9-2, 1-1-2 Big West Conference) on Wednesday, Oct. 12. Davila believes his team will learn from this loss.

“We have to keep our head up, stay with it, and find ways to get better,” Davila said.