Matadors battle Mustangs to scoreless draw

Matadors forward Jamar Ricketts, 11, moves to put the ball in a scoring position while Cal Poly San Luis Obispo defender Conner Leber, right, moves to block during a home game on the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Justin Parrott, Reporter

A goal waived off due to an offside call and a botched penalty kick left the Matadors disappointed after a tough battle against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Wednesday night ended in a 0-0 draw.

Looking to secure their sixth win of the season, CSUN men’s soccer (5-4-4, 2-2-1 Big West Conference) did not play sharp against Cal Poly (1-9-3, 1-1-3 Big West Conference). The Matadors’ quiet offense in the first half gave them little chances to score goals. In the second half, CSUN made adjustments in its attack to generate more opportunities, but crucial mistakes at the end cost the Matadors the win.

“We were able to create opportunities and give ourselves chances to win in the second half,” CSUN head coach Terry Davila said. “There were opportunities to score tonight.”

Both the Mustangs and the Matadors came out even, scraping together chances to score.

CSUN forward Levin Gerhardt, left, heads a ball while Cal Poly San Luis Obispo defender Oscar Baudey, 8, and forward Conner Lisenbee, 12, move to a better position on the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Taylor Arthur)

A corner kick two minutes in gave Cal Poly a shot to make the first move. Forward Ocean Salari took the kick, striking the ball toward the penalty box. It bounced in front of forward Jackson Kestler, who booted the ball toward goalie Cooper Wenzel. The junior goalkeeper caught the ball, keeping the game scoreless. Seven minutes later, Kestler received the ball on the left side of the field. Possessing the ball, he made a move between two CSUN defenders. Taking one dribble, Kestler took a shot outside the penalty box, missing high.

The Matadors responded by clawing for their own offensive attack.

A corner opportunity 16 minutes in gave CSUN its first look at the goal. The ball flew in the air, ricocheting off Mustangs defenders before landing at the feet of midfielder Alex Lumus outside the penalty box. He possessed the ball, taking one dribble and driving it high above the goal.

Cal Poly recovered and built an attack when forward Max Kleinhammes dashed to the right side of the field, dribbling the ball with 23 minutes left. He passed the ball to midfielder Tony Ruiz, who blasted a shot toward the goal, but CSUN defenders deflected the ball off target.

CSUN’s captain Jamar Ricketts, center, runs the ball while Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s defenders give chase during a home game on the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Taylor Arthur)

Near the end of the first half, the Matadors scrambled to create two more scoring opportunities in an attempt to generate momentum before the whistle. Forward David Diaz possessed the ball off a pass from the middle of the field. Dribbling up the right side, Diaz made a defender miss but booted the ball high. Two minutes later, forward Levin Gerhardt streaked up the middle of the field and received a pass as he moved to the left. Shaking his defender, Gerhardt moved to the outside, bombing the ball and watching it take a deflection off a Mustangs defender to spoil the attack.

Each team had three shots, but the Mustangs had the edge with one shot on goal to the Matadors’ zero.

In the second half, CSUN put pressure on Cal Poly, taking four shots on goal to the Mustangs’ zero.

Multiple offsides stalled CSUN’s scoring chances early on. A foul on Mustangs midfielder Richie Garcia gave the Matadors a free kick. Midfielder AJ Johnson boomed the ball into the penalty area. After it deflected off two Cal Poly defenders, an offside call ended the scoring chance. Seven minutes later, Gerhardt belted a shot toward goalie Gabe Penner, who knocked it away. Midfielder Jack Rhead possessed the loose ball on the goal line and tapped it in, but an offside call erased the goal.

Defender Conner Leber, left, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo heads the ball away from from CSUN forward Levin Gerhardt, center, on the Performance Soccer Field on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Northridge, Calif. (Taylor Arthur)

The Matadors continued to attack, finding ways to produce chances to score. A yellow card on midfielder Nate Colley put CSUN in Mustangs territory. Johnson rushed to the left side of the field, passing the ball to defender Dylan Gonzalez in the penalty box. Jumping up, Gonzalez headed the ball but his shot was blocked. Rhead secured the rebound and pounded the ball toward the goal. However, it bounced off Cal Poly’s defenders and failed to reach the target.

But the Matadors’ best opportunity came in the 86th minute. A hand ball on defender Erik Cabrera-Trujillo gave CSUN a penalty kick and a chance to jump in front. Jamar Ricketts took the kick, sprinting toward the ball and deciding to shoot left. Penner read Ricketts’ mind and made a diving save to keep the game even.

Two minutes later, the Matadors had one last chance. A throw-in gave midfielder Marley Edwards the ball. He passed it into the penalty box and watched it skim the feet of Cal Poly defenders. Gonzalez possessed the ball, took a shot and missed wide left to end the game in a 0-0 draw.

“A missed offside goal, that we scored on, was unfortunate[ly] … taken away from us,” Davila said. “Missing a penalty kick was tough and that was the game.”

Fifth in the Big West Conference with four games left in the regular season, the Matadors will play at CSU Bakersfield on Saturday at 7 p.m. for a chance to pick up three critical points against the only winless team in conference play.