As they limp toward Big West Conference play, the CSUN women’s soccer team recovered in time with a 1-0 victory against the University of San Diego on Monday night at Matador Field.
Coming off subpar performances at home against the University of Pennsylvania and a humiliating 5-0 road loss to Texas A&M, the Matadors looked to rebound against the Toreros.
The first half came at a stalemate for both the Matadors and the Toreros, as neither team was able to penetrate the opposing red zones.
Each team was able to get shots off and get inside, but none was able to consistently get shots on goal. The defenders negated every entry with relative ease on both sides.
The Matadors broke the scoreless tie early in the game before the majority of fans were even seated. There were no shots on goal by any squad at this time.
Matador senior midfielder Sonia Espitia drove into the box in the third minute of the first half when a Torero defender fouled her.
The ensuing call was a penalty kick that was awarded to the Matadors, resulting in cheers from the home bench.
Senior midfielder Erin Kelly, who connected with the net past diving Torero goalkeeper Courtney Parsons, took the kick. It was Kelly’s second goal of the season, the first being against UCLA earlier this month.
Kelly said she felt steady and calm as she stared into the net.
“It was great,” Kelly said. “I got some words of encouragement from my teammates. Sonia (Espitia) got the great play into the box and she got the foul. I took a deep breath and tried to relax and just focus it.”
The Toreros’ only real threat came about a minute after the penalty goal. Torero midfielder Jackie Zinke shot a long ball to Matador goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo, who made a diving stop that resulted in a corner kick.
The first half ended with a lot of energy from both sides, as none was able to build consistent play after 45 minutes of play.
The game was pretty balanced at that point. The Matadors were outshot 10-7 and were at a disadvantage in shots-on-goal 6-3.
Matador goalkeeper Jacobo had five saves, compared to Parsons, who only had two saves.
Both teams came roaring out of the gate in the second half, with San Diego trying to tie the game and CSUN trying to preserve the score.
Matador head coach Keith West knew it was very important to keep the score and capture a win before heading into Big West play.
“We wanted to keep the ball in front of us,” West said. “We wanted to defend the goal and keep the ball. It’s hard to score with 11 girls in front of the net.”
Frustrations flew even in the San Diego bench as one of the coaches yelled.
“Somebody else needs to yell!” he said. “I’m done yelling!”
Toward the end of the game, the Toreros pressed and pressed but the 10-man Matador defense was too hard to break.
Sophomore midfielder Marie Hirsch was happy that the preparation was worth the work after the game.
“We worked hard at practice,” Hirsch said. “We wanted it really bad and we had more energy, which was a positive.”
She didn’t mind saying what she had in her mind after such a hard-fought win.
“It’s great,” Hirsch said. “Beating these schools… we beat them down and it’s a great feeling.”
What does it all mean for the Matadors heading into Big West play Friday?
“This win puts us ahead as far as how we’re feeling,” Kelly said. “This was a very good win for us.”