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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Defense drowns CSUN, Matadors suffer fifth consecutive loss

Attacker Tatiana Smeltzer, 6, throws the ball towards the goal while being defended against Cal State Long Beach on Saturday, March 30, 2024, at the Matador Pool in Northridge, Calif.

The No. 25 Matadors fell to No. 6 Long Beach at the Matador Pool on Saturday afternoon, CSUN’s second-to-last home game before starting their two-game road trip next week.

The game began with a flurry of action from the Beach, who quickly took control with a 4-1 lead. Despite a valiant effort from the Matadors, Long Beach’s offense remained relentless, winning 15-6 to secure their 10th consecutive victory and maintain their undefeated record in conference play.

The defeat suffered by CSUN (16-13, 0-4 Big West), a team that has been struggling in recent games, at the hands of Long Beach State (18-6, 3-0 Big West), a team on a winning streak, marked a significant loss in their season. This was CSUN’s fifth loss in a row, highlighting their current offensive and defensive challenges. Despite the efforts of Anna Pal and Kianna Melvin, who finished the game with two goals each, the Matadors were outmatched by the relentless defensive pressure exerted by Long Beach.

“We just need more motion to make them guard us,” head coach Matt Warshaw said after the Matadors were held to zero points in the third quarter. “They’re going to be in a zone, and we have one of the best players in Dorottya [Telek], and the defenders will be forcing the ball out of her hands. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and fix the problems we’ve had in the last few games.”

Telek, who leads the Matadors in goals on the season, has struggled in the last five games, scoring no more than one goal in each game. She only scored once against the 49ers.

Despite Long Beach jumping out to a 4-1 start, CSUN held the Beach scoreless for three minutes, and in that span, Pal and Melvin each scored one goal to bring the Matadors within just one point heading into the second quarter. But, once again, the Matadors’ defense would give up two straight goals in just over a minute of the second quarter to trail 6-3.

The Matadors struggled defensively, allowing three more goals in the second quarter, while CSUN could only score twice. From the beginning of the game, it was clear how the outcome would go because even though CSUN outshot the visiting team 34-25, they still couldn’t capitalize and turn them into goals.

The Beach started to run away in the third quarter as the Matadors went scoreless. Not only would Long Beach score three goals in the third, but in total, from the end of the second quarter, the Beach scored eight straight goals while giving up just one in the entire second half. The lone goal for CSUN came in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter when the game was already decided.

“We just have to take better care of the ball. Our turnovers led to their goals in a lot of cases,” Warshaw said after the offense went cold at the end of the first half. “It wasn’t that they were outplaying us, it was a little more of us making mistakes and them capitalizing on them.”

As CSUN looks to regroup and rebound from this defeat, they will look to address their defensive problems and regain momentum in their last three games before the playoffs begin.

“It was nice to see the girls never give up and show good fight, despite the score,” Warsaw said. “So, there are some positives to take away when we get on the film and prepare to close the season strong.’’

The Matadors will host UC Santa Barbara (13-10, 1-2 Big West) with a senior day matchup for their final home game of the season on Friday, April 5, at 12 p.m., where they look to snap their five-game losing streak.

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