Matador Soccer Field gets permanent lighting, nighttime soccer returns to CSUN

Jeff Weissman

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Nighttime soccer will return to CSUN after nearly a decade’s absence following the athletic departments decision to install permanent lighting at the Matador Soccer Field.

The CSUN men and women’s soccer teams, who used to play games “under the lights” at the North Campus Stadium will now play a majority of their 2010 home schedule at night, said Rick Mazzuto, CSUN athletic director. The instillation of permanent lighting at the Matador field is expected to provide new opportunities for the soccer program as well as the surrounding community.

“The instillation of lights at the Matador Field is the first significant athletic project in recent years,” Mazzuto said. “It is an enhancement which will elevate our program in terms of recruiting and our ability to share outstanding soccer in the San Fernando Valley community.”

Mazzuto said playing soccer games at night is expected to increase the involvement of CSUN’s local community and was a critical component in the athletic departments decision to install permanent lighting.

Keith West, head coach for the women’s soccer team said bringing back night games would have a positive effect for the community.

“Installing the lights will create a family atmosphere where the community can bring their families and enjoy the games at night when it is cooler and fun to be here,” West said. “You put lights up and you are going to have the community rally around it, this is going to be a community changing event.”

Terry Davila, head coach of the men’s soccer team said in a press release that playing night games will have a direct impact on the community.

“Now we will have a chance to take the next step and incorporate the communities around Northridge on a deeper level and provide parents and their children with an opportunity to witness first-class soccer in a family-friendly environment,” Davila said.

Mazzuto said installing permanent lighting at the Matador soccer field will provide a venue for the CSUN soccer program to host top rated soccer programs from around the nation.

“The installation of lights will allow our teams to compete with the nation’s very best in collegiate soccer,” Mazzuto said.

West said he has embraced the opportunity and challenge of competing with the best soccer programs the country has to offer.

“I look at our schedule for the upcoming season and it is one of the toughest non-conference schedules in our conference,” West said. “I want to play that schedule every year. In order to be the best, you have to play the best.”

West and the women’s soccer team will soon have the chance to establish themselves on the national level.

The first game to introduce the lights to Matador fans and the community is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Aug. 22 when the Matador women’s team hosts the University of Portland at 7 p.m.

“Portland is a top five program,” West said. “Everyone looks to see what Portland’s score was and when they do they are going to see Northridge right next to it. We are going to be on the national stage now.”

The excitement experienced by players, fans, alumni and everyone involved with the project is undeniable, West said.

“I think it is a big-time decision that the department and the university has made, because it shows that they believe in athletics and it allows CSUN athletics to make a statement across the country as far as what we are capable of,” West said. “The commitment this school is making is a big commitment but I believe it will be a win-win for every program here not just soccer.”