The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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2023 Matadors soccer season in review

Aliyah Hinckley
Matadors ended the game with a tie against the Sacramento State Hornets on Oct. 7, 2023, at the Matador Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif.

The Matadors entered the 2023 season with high hopes and expectations after an impressive 2022 run. In 2022, the Matadors posted a 9-6-4 record, and made a playoff run to the Big West semifinals, falling 4-1 to UC Riverside. One of the main goals established by the team was to secure another Big West conference playoff berth.

The Matadors began their season with a trip to Columbus, Ohio, getting draws against both Ohio State and the University of Dayton.

Afterwards, they traveled back to California to face the 12th ranked University of San Diego Toreros, pulling off a huge upset 3-1, after being reduced to 10 men in the first half. Three days later, they returned to Los Angeles to secure a late 1-1 draw against UCLA after a Solorzano penalty kick.

The Matadors then hosted UNLV for their home opener and won 3-1 in a strong display. However, in the following match, they would go on to lose for the first time to Cal Baptist University in Riverside by the same scoreline.

The Matadors returned back a week later to Northridge drawing 0-0 in an ill-tempered match against Loyola Marymount which saw multiple yellow cards and an ejection, before losing to road matches to West Coast Conference opponents Portland and Santa Clara to wrap up the non-conference season. CSUN headed into conference play as favorites to secure a playoff berth.

Unfortunately, the losing streak would continue into their Big West campaign. The first match versus the Cal State Fullerton Titans in Northridge ended with the Matadors falling in a goalfest. Despite the Matadors leading late into the match, two late goals saw the Titans triumph 5-4.

Another home loss to CSU Bakersfield through a penalty, and a road loss against Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo saw the Matadors sink to the bottom of the standings.

Eventually, the Matadors got back on track after a goalkeeper change and picked up their first point in Northridge in a 1-1 draw against Sacramento State. Later, forward Jamar Ricketts’ heroics helped secure a 1-1 draw at UC Davis, as well as CSUN’s first conference win against UC Irvine with a late game winner.

Midfielder Robert Kaemmerer, 28, dribbles the ball down the field while playing against the Sacramento State Hornets at the Matador Soccer Field in Northridge, Calif. on Oct. 7, 2023. Photo taken by Aliyah Hinckley.

Returning to Northridge for their final homestand, the Matadors picked up a crucial win against UC San Diego 2-1 from a Ricketts brace, but dropped points to UC Santa Barbara, only managing a 2-2 result.

Needing a win to qualify for the Big West playoffs, the Matadors traveled to Riverside looking for a miracle, but despite outshooting UC Riverside and holding them scoreless, the Matadors failed to find the back of the net and were eliminated from postseason contention.

In spite of ending their season in disappointment, there were many bright spots for the Matadors throughout the campaign.

Ricketts was the best player on the pitch for the Matadors. He was third in the Big West in goals scored with 8, and was selected to the All-Big West First Team. In addition, he was ranked first in the nation in Division I for his shot accuracy of .622.

What stood out from Ricketts was his scoring consistency as he hit the back of the net four times in three consecutive matches for the Matadors in Big West play. His efforts earned him two Big West Offensive Player of the Week awards.

Freshman midfielder Jorge Solorzano was another standout player for the Matadors. In the 18 games played, he netted five goals and dished out three assists this season. His efforts earned him a spot on the All-Freshman team along with the Big West Freshman of the Year award.

Other Matadors selected as honorable mentions for the All-Big West conference teams for the first time in their careers were defenders Bryan Bustamante and Michael Arrington.

Bustamante recorded the most minutes for the Matadors on the pitch with 1,573, playing the full 90 on 14 occasions, and started in every match for the Matadors. He also scored his first career goal against Dayton in a 1-1 draw.

Arrington on the other hand made important contributions offensively for CSUN. His three assists during Big West play (also tied for team high), and his 15 matches played this season are all career highs.

Although not nominated for any Big West team, freshman goalkeeper Merrick Cook did not lose a single match for the Matadors while in goal. A late starter replacement during Big West play, he recorded two clean sheets and made 18 saves in seven matches played for the Matadors, while allowing five goals.

All these achievements show the Matadors’ strength both individually and team wise on the pitch. CSUN looks to improve on their 4-6-8 record and qualify for next season’s Big West tournament.

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