Men’s Soccer: Matadors get revenge with 1-0 win over Cal State Fullerton

    Beto Valesquez’s curled free kick in the first half proved to be the difference in Wednesday night’s game as the Matadors defeated the Titans 1-0 in a physical, defensive game at Matador Field.

    Junior midfielder Carlos Benavides chases down a UC Riverside player on Oct. 13. CSUN’s defense held Cal State Fullerton scoreless after allowing them to score five goals in their first matchup. File photo/ Daily Sundial

    The Matadors (13-5, 7-2 Big West) avenged a 5-4 loss to the Titans (7-11-1, 3-5-1) on Oct. 17, the team’s only loss in its last seven games.

    The goal came in the 35th minute when the Titans committed one of their 17 fouls just outside the penalty box. Velasquez left the goalie no chance when he hit the sweet spot of the ball, curling it over the defenders’ heads and into the top left corner of the goal.

    “I saw the wall (of defenders) blocking the view of the goalie and knew he wouldn’t be able to see the ball in time,” Velasquez said.

    The goal was Velasquez’s eighth of the season, tying him for second on the team with forward Edwin Rivas.

    Northridge was heavily outshot by Fullerton 17-7, but none of the Titan’s chances really tested goalkeeper Michael Abalos, who made six saves and got his 20th career shutout.

    “It was a total team effort,” Abalos said. “Everyone was doing their part to come back on set pieces and clear the ball.”

    The only real chance the Titans had came in the 75 minute when a cross from the right was headed just wide by Fullerton forward Dyllan Stevens.

    “Our set-piece defense was phenomenal tonight,” said CSUN head coach Terry Davila. “I’m really happy with the way we’re playing defensively.”

    Davila was less than pleased with the Matadors’ offensive effort, taking full advantage of the unlimited substitution rule to get better movement in the midfield.

    “We need to get a little more committed to moving off the ball offensively. Our offense didn’t match our defense tonight,” Davila said.

    The Matadors offense did have some success on the left side, with combining runs from midfielder David Turcios and defender Joe Franco creating chances for the Matadors in the second half.

    None of those chances resulted in any goals however as defense and physicality were the main themes of the night.

    A shoving match occurred in the 85th minute after a Fullerton and Northridge player got tangled up in the Matadors’ penalty box. No fouls were committed, but the incident personified a chippy game that had one player from each team yellow-carded.

    “The game was physical and the referee allowed it,” Davila said. “(The Titans) are playing for their playoff lives and they showed it.”

    Fullerton is currently in playoff position in the Big West South Division, but only lead UC Riverside by one point with one game remaining.

    The Matadors have already clinched the first seed in the Big West South Division and have one more regular season game against UC Irvine Saturday before they host the Big West semifinal game on Nov. 7.

    Saturday’s game will be Senior Night for the Matadors, where seniors like Franco and Abalos will be honored before kick off.

    “It’s definitely bittersweet,” Franco said. “But it’s not going to be the last (home game) because we have the (Big West) semi-final.”