The CSUN men’s soccer team (0-5-1) will play the last match of a six-game road trip when they square off against the University of San Francisco (1-3-1) Friday.
The Matadors will end their longest road trip in more than 10 years, the longest road stretch for any team in the Big West Conference this year.
The road trip began Sept. 5 with a 2-0 loss against Loyola Marymount.
However, much of that was overshadowed by their youth and inexperience, as the team showed very little chemistry on the field.
Little did Northridge know that first game would summarize their road trip thus far.
Against Washington University, the Matadors attained their first shutout of the season and tie. In the San Jose State game, CSUN scored its first goal of the season and against the University of Illinois, Chicago, they attained their first lead. They have yet to attain their first win.
Now in their closing game against the Dons, Northridge says they’re ready to take it to the next level.
“We’re ready to go up to San Francisco, turn things around and come up with a win,” freshman midfielder Carlos Benavides said.
As for team chemistry, CSUN is also confident they are on the right track toward finding a winning formula.
“We’re going to have a new starting lineup for our next game,” said team captain Joe Franco. “We’re just going to go with players that work hard from now on.”
Northridge still has 13 games left to try and turn things around. Considering CSUN’s record on the road last year, during which they went 3-6-0, the Matadors have reason to be optimistic with only six road games left on their schedule.
“We’ve done some good things in the past whenever we strap down and play hard,” Franco said. “We just have to continue to stay positive.”
Northridge went 6-1-1 last year at home, and with seven home games left on their schedule, Matador fans also have something to look forward to.
The Dons come into Friday’s game with issues of their own, as they are currently on a three-game losing streak. However, two of those three games were against top 25 opponents, and the only time they’ve been outshot during their losing streak was against California.
San Francisco has already played Big West conference rival Cal State Fullerton and attained a 1-1 draw.
The highlight of the 2010 season for the Dons is a win against No. 9 Northwestern, proving they are capable of attaining a win against just about anybody in the nation.
On offense, the Dons owe much of their success in large part to the solid play of their freshmen.
Freshman forward Tanner Smith, who attended high school in Alaska, is tied for the team lead in goals, with one goal coming off of just four shots. Freshman midfielder Karl Kraft is the team leader in shots taken with a total of eight.
Don to watch: Bryan Burke is a dynamic senior forward who has attained All-West Coast Conference Second Team Honors for two years straight and is tied for the team lead in assists. He has taken seven shots this season, with four on goal.
Matador to watch: Sam Ball has been a standout freshman for the Matadors. He has the team’s only two goals, even though he has only played in three games. His emergence on the offensive end will now have to be consistent if the Matadors hope to win on Friday.