Matadors women’s soccer fights for Big West victory

CSUN forward Cassidy Imperial-Pham, center, fights to get the ball against UC San Diego defender Talisa Lin, 14, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif.

Mark Armendariz-Gonzales, Reporter

Coming off a defeat to the University of Hawaii, the CSUN women’s soccer team had a bye week, looking to reenergize before heading on the road for their next two games. The week-long rest could have given the Matadors an advantage against their opponents, but this was not the case as CSUN lost both of their away games.

CSUN (2-13-1, 0-6-1 Big West Conference) kicked off the week when they traveled to UC Irvine to face off against the Anteaters (6-3-6, 2-0-5 Big West Conference) for the second time this season. The first game did not go the way the Matadors hoped, as they lost the match 2-1. The rematch between the teams was a hard-fought battle, with each team recording 12 shots. Ultimately, it was the Anteaters who came out victorious, beating the Matadors 1-0.

“We’re rebuilding the program and it takes time,” CSUN head coach Christine Johnson said. “I know they feel like they’re getting better. The results are one goal. We’re going to continue to fight and finish out the season and try to get three points in the next couple games.”

The first half of the game was evenly matched, with the Anteaters barely outshooting the Matadors by two shots. The game remained scoreless going into halftime, but that quickly changed early into the second half. The draw breaker and only goal of the night came in the 46th minute, when midfielder Aislynn Crowder sent a pass in front of the goal to forward Alyssa Moore. As soon as the ball touched her feet, Moore blasted it without hesitation into the back of the net, giving UC Irvine the lead.

CSUN defender Sami Kolin runs to the ball against UC San Diego on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, at the Performance Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. (Aliyah Hinckley)

The Matadors responded in great fashion by taking over the rest of the game offensively. The Anteaters achieved only one shot on goal the rest of the game, while CSUN had three. The player leading the CSUN attack was none other than top goal scorer Cindy Arteaga. Arteaga recorded five of the six Matadors shots in the second half. Her best scoring opportunity came in the 83rd minute when she fired a shot and hit the crossbar. Although the Matadors controlled the rest of the match, their efforts were not enough to overcome the one-goal deficit.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team and the players that stepped up today,” Johnson said. “We executed the game plan, we defended and played for 90 minutes. That’s what we’ve been asking of them and they did exactly that.”

After a close defeat to UC Irvine, the Matadors (2-14-1, 0-7-1 Big West Conference) traveled to CSU Long Beach to battle the Sharks (6-4-5, 5-0-2 Big West Conference). Coming off an impressive second half against Irvine, CSUN hoped to pick up where they left off and put the Sharks on their heels. Long Beach State had different plans for how the match would go and smashed the Matadors 4-1.

The Sharks jumped on the scoreboard in the 33rd minute when forward Summer Laskey took a shot, and Matadors goalkeeper Taylor Thames deflected the ball off the crossbar. The ball bounced past the goal line, giving Long Beach State the lead. Once the Sharks tasted success, they did not slow down. The Long Beach offense continued to be a thorn in the side of the Matadors, and just a few minutes later they struck again. In the 39th minute, midfielder Cherrie Cox passed the ball to forward Lena Silano right in front of goal for her to put the Sharks up 2-0. Long Beach added to their lead three minutes later, when Cox scored after a one-on-one showdown with Thames.

Things were no different in the second half, as less than one minute in a collision between Silano and Thames in the box resulted in a penalty kick. Silano stepped up to take the shot and buried it into the back of the net, scoring her second goal of the match to make the score 4-0.

The Matadors finally answered in the 68th minute when Arteaga hit the back of the net for her seventh goal of the season. Even though CSUN had finally scored, the damage was already done and the Sharks claimed the victory.

“We were very disorganized in the back [line] in the first half. We looked sluggish and tired,” Johnson said. “In the second half, we were better, but it was a little too late.”

Thursday at 7 p.m. the Matadors travel to UC Riverside for their final game of the season.