CSUN men’s soccer out of the Big West Tournament, now awaits NCAA Tournament fate

Alejandro Arpiza

The Matadors lost for the second time season at Harder Staduim, 1-0, Wednesday night against UCSB. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre/ Executive Editor
The Matadors lost for the second time this season at Harder Staduim, 1-0, Wednesday night against UCSB. Photo Credit: Jonathan Pobre/ Executive Editor

After losing to No. 4-ranked UC Santa Barbara, 1-0, Wednesday on the road in the semi-final round of the Big West Conference Tournament, the Cal State Northridge men’s soccer team now finds itself at the mercy of the NCAA selection committee.

At 10-8-2, the Matadors are on the fence of being awarded an at-large invitation to the College Cup Tournament. Only the conference tournament champ is guaranteed a spot in the big tournament. However, last season it took the top four teams from the conference, giving the Matadors hope of sneaking in.

After defeating UC Irvine last Saturday, CSUN’s RPI rating shot into the top 50. With a host of impressive victories this season and a strong schedule, the Matadors boast a solid resume. Among their notable victories are wins at home against Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount and road wins against Irvine, Southern Methodist and Tulsa. Theirs losses against top programs on the road include New Mexico, San Diego, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and now twice to the Gauchos.

It would not be a surprise if the committee took as many as three teams – but four might be a stretch this season. Irvine defeated Cal Poly, 2-1, in double overtime Wednesday to set up a rematch of last season’s tournament championship. Regardless of the outcome, Saturday, both schools appear to be locks for being invited.

CSUN and Cal Poly, however, will be nervously awaiting Monday’s selections. Despite ending the season in second place in the Big West, Cal Poly has a below-.500 record of 8-10-2 and a very weak RPI. A win would have surely given the Matadors another notch on their resume, and put them in a position to clinch an automatic birth on their own.
The rubber match of the season series was determined in the 71st minute when Gauchos junior Michael Boxall, knocked in the eventual game-winner. The defender headed in the goal after CSUN goalkeeper Michael Abalos’ shot save by Luis Silva.

CSUN took 13 shots in the match, including 10 in the second half, but only one corner. The match at Harder Stadium was very physical, as 45 fouls were called and eight yellow cards shown.

The Matadors were without key midfielder Rene Anguiano, who was not eligible to play because of the red card he received last match at Irvine. The freshman is second on the team with five assists.

Yet, after the loss, it is surely the 10 seniors on the squad that are wondering if they have played their last game in a Matador uniform.