With seven home games planned at night, CSUN men’s soccer is optimistic of what’s to come in 2010 season

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Raul Magana

The Matadors at training camp preparing for the upcoming 2010 season. Photo Credit: Raul Magana / Staff Reporter

The 2010 Matadors have one of the toughest schedules in 12 years while under the tenure of last year’s Big West Coach of the Year Terry Davila.

CSUN has five matchups against teams that are ranked top 25 in the nation including games against preseason No. 1 ranked Akron, No. 5 UCLA, and conference favorite No. 8 UC Santa Barbara.

The upcoming season should also prove to be an exciting one since the Matadors have the opportunity to showcase their talent under the bright lights of the recently renovated Matador Soccer Field for the first time since it opened in 2002.

With the new lights in place, the Matadors hope to attract fans that may have been deterred to attend home games in the past due to the San Fernando Valley heat, which can reach triple digits during the summer months. Seven out of the eight home games will begin at 7 p.m. with the only exception being against Air Force, which begins at 1 p.m.

“I would love for the community to come out and support us,” said midfielder Rafael Garcia. “We won’t be playing in 90 or 100 degree weather. Now that we have lights, it creates a whole different environment.”

The Matadors are hoping to improve on last years overall record of 10-8-2 and Big West record of 5-4-1. Also, CSUN at one point was ranked No. 24 in the nation and advanced to the Big West Conference Tournament for the first time since 2005.

Northridge finished fourth in the conference during the 2009 campaign with wins against Big West regular season champion UC Santa Barbara and defeated eventual NCAA Tournament teams Loyola Marymount and Tulsa.

The Matadors 2009 season eventually ended with a 1-0 loss against UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Tournament semifinals.

Key Losses
MF/F Sunghyun Kim- Kim’s many accolades include 19 goals and 21 assist for 59 points during his 77 game career while at Cal State Northridge. Kim managed to attain All-Big West honors during each of his four seasons. His 21 career assists ranks eighth in conference history.
D Chad Borak- Borak was named to the All-Big West First Team during his senior season in 2009 and was drafted in the 3 round of the 2010 MLS Super Draft by the Colorado Rapids.
F Cameron Sims- Sims led the team in goals last year with a total of seven goals. Sims was also named to the All-Big West First Team last season.

Players to Watch
MF Rafael Garcia- Garcia is a team captain and an experienced junior that provides much needed leadership and discipline to a young Matador team. Garcia played in all 20 games for the Matadors last season.
F Camilo Rojas- Rojas is another experienced junior and has the potential to be the Matadors biggest offensive threat. He is returning from last year’s season, which he redshirted. Rojas led the Matadors in goals scored with seven and had three assists during his sophomore season in 2008.
G Michael Abalos- Abalos accumulated 60 saves and 5 shutouts during his freshman season, while earning All-Big West Honorable Mention honors.

Key Rookies
MF/F Edwin Rivas- Rivas is a physically imposing striker with a combination of speed and strength that should translate well to the collegiate level from the start. Rivas was a four-sport letter winner in soccer, basketball, football, and track and field while at Santee High School.
MF Carlos Benavides- Benavides strength is that he is a versatile player that always seems to make the right decisions. He has the ability to make the game look easy and always seems to be around the ball.

Big West Conference Breakdown
The Matadors are projected to finish fourth in the conference during the 2010 season for the third straight year.

Last year’s Big West regular season champion UCSB, who also advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, is the team to beat. Santa Barbara is returning nine of 11 starters from last year’s squad.

UC Irvine was last year’s Big West Tournament champion and is projected to finish second in the conference. Irvine finished last year with a record of 15-7-0, good enough for the 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Another strong team in the Big West is Cal Poly who is projected to finish third in conference. Cal Poly finished second in conference play last year with a conference record of 6-3-1 and ended the 2009 season with a loss to UC Irvine in double overtime of the Big West semifinals.

Keys to Success
The biggest question that the Matadors must answer during their 2010 season is whether they are mentally tough enough to win on the road this year. Last year, the Matadors had a great home record going 6-1-1. The Matadors record on the road however was not as impressive with only 3 wins and 6 losses.

“We have to stay mentally tough, as far as being tough on the road and sticking to our roles and our goals.” head coach Davila said. “When we play the top of our game we can play with anybody in the nation, any time, any place.”

Discipline, focus and knowing the game plan are also among the keys to success according to team captain Rafael Garcia.

“As far as talent I think we have plenty,” said Garcia. “The most important thing is just hard work, if everyone stays disciplined and just works hard I think the sky is the limit for this team.”