For the second consecutive weekend the Cal State Northridge women’s soccer team split two games, but this time, they did it at home against strong competition: Loyola Marymount and Oregon State.
CSUN vs. LMU
CSUN shut out Loyola Marymount 3-0 Thursday evening, in its home opener at Matador Field. The Lions were coming in with confidence after winning at UNLV 2-0, and they played that way for most of the first half. A couple of turnovers created most of the scoring chances for either side in the first half, with Matador goalkeeper Leah Elliot making a few saves to keep the score locked at 0-0.
Offensively, the Matadors had trouble stringing enough passes together to create penetration into the LMU defense. They ended up with only one shot on goal in the first half.
When asked if head coach Keith West said anything that made a difference for the way that CSUN played in the second half, forward Farryn Townley summed up her coach’s halftime speech:
“Play to feet, play how we know how to play, not so much with over-the-top balls, just play to feet and get behind the defense.”
As the second half began, the Matador players seemed to be reenergized. Their passes were much crisper, and they controlled the ball at will. A little over three minutes into the second half, junior midfielder Sonia Espitia stole the ball from the LMU defender right in front of the goal and put it short side, beating the goalie for a 1-0 lead. Just a few minutes later, at the 51:40 mark, Townley took a great cross from Heidi Farran to the left side of the field, setting up a shot for Townley, and giving CSUN the 2-0 advantage.
“I looked up and saw an opening on the right side and just knocked it in,” Townley said.
Northridge did not stop controlling play after taking the two-goal lead, and with five minutes remaining, LMU committed a foul inside its own box, setting up a penalty kick for the Matadors’ Niki Connolly. She converted, scoring her second goal of the year and putting the game out of reach at 3-0.
“It was a good (win), not only for our record but also for our confidence,” Connolly said.
CSUN vs. Oregon State
Sunday afternoon, the Matadors were dropped by Oregon State, 3-1. Early on, both teams were feeling each other out, with no one penetrating too deep in the other’s territory. The Beavers created a few decent chances around the 20-minute mark, but Elliot made a couple of nice saves.
Then, during the 37th minute, the Matadors’ Sydney Vermillion kicked the ball from about 60 yards out, where Desiree Cardenas headed it backward toward the goal for the 1-0 CSUN lead. However, there was some controversy over the goal. The OSU coaching staff believed that Nicole Cruz had touched the ball before it went into the net, which would have put her offside. But the referees came together and decided that the goal was good.
Most of the second half was controlled by CSUN, with exceptional play from Jasmine Pratt and Midfielder Espitia. Everything seemed to be going the Matadors’ way until the last 15 minutes. Then, suddenly the Beavers started playing as if they were really fresh, moving the ball from side to side, and putting pressure on the CSUN defense.
In the 78th minute, OSU’s Milan Cabrera sent a great cross to Courtney Wetzel, who put a precise shot on goal. Elliot made a great diving stop but left a rebound in front where Brittney Sheffield put a foot on it and tied the score, 1-1.
The OSU rally continued. All of a sudden, CSUN was turning the ball over frequently, and it did not take long for the Beavers to capitalize. Just three minutes after the last goal, OSU scored again to take the lead. It did not end there either; the Beavers kept applying pressure and scored once again in the 86th minute, eventually winning the game 3-1.
Northridge looked stunned, and rightfully so. The Matadors could have won if they had continued to play with energy, intensity and effort.
“We took a break; we thought we had the game in hand. In a one-goal game you can’t let up, and we did,” coach West said.
Sports are always games of adjustments and it was clear that the Beavers made the proper adjustments, while CSUN let up just enough to cost them.