Despite falling to third place in the Big West Conference after suffering a heartbreaking loss against Long Beach State on Sunday, CSUN remains in solid position to reach the postseason with one conference game remaining.
The Matadors (10-8, 4-3 BWC) are fighting for a playoff berth, as they host sixth-place Cal State Fullerton (6-11, 3-3 BWC) in tonight’s Big West finale.
The Matadors have accumulated 12 points in the conference and by losing to the Titans, the team could drop to fourth place behind Pacific, who are tied with the Matadors and face Long Beach State on Friday.
Assistant coach Juan Plascencia does not count the team out just yet and said the loss to Long Beach State does not end their season one bit.
“It’s not the end of the world, we played great, our confidence level with soccer is very high right now,” Plascencia said. “As long as we take care of our chances and opportunities to get the goals and the end result that we are all looking for, then by no means are we down, we are excited for Fullerton.”
In the Big West Tournament, the first place team plays the fourth place team and the second place team faces the third place team. The current standings are: 1) UC Irvine, 2) Long Beach State, 3) CSUN, 4) Pacific.
If the postseason started today, CSUN would be on the road against the 49ers. Plascencia is not too worried about being on the road for the playoffs.
“We are lucky to have played Long Beach State at Long Beach and UC Irvine at Irvine,” Plascencia said. “One, we know what to expect and two, we have confidence that we can get good results there.”
Similar to the Matadors, Fullerton is coming off a Sunday loss, being shutout 2-0 by UC Santa Barbara. They have split conference play with three wins and three loses, being outscored 13-8 in those games.
As the Titans sit out of the top four spots, their playoff chances look slim with nine points. However, with a victory and a few top teams losing, Fullerton could squeeze into the postseason.
Fullerton is in a position where they could disrupt the Matadors playoff chances, especially with senior midfielder Christina Murillo and junior midfielder Casey Volk.
Murillo, a former Slammers FC club soccer player leads the Titans with seven goals, giving her 15 points in the year. Volk, who did not play high school soccer, has accumulated four goals and three assists leaving her with 11 points on the season.
Murillo and Volk have combined for 49 shots, with 26 being on the net for the Titans.
Defensively, the Matadors gave up early goals to Long Beach State. Plascencia does not want that to happen against Fullerton and said the team needs to do one vital thing.
“Take care of the set pieces, not get scored on in the set pieces,” Plascencia said. “Fullerton is a great team on set pieces so we have to have extra concentration and focus.”
Plascencia realizes how important it is to get a victory in tomorrow’s game.
“Super important, it’s our season, if we lose we’re out and if we win we’re in,” Plascencia said. “It is like that cliché these are the moments you live for, I expect the girls to work (hard) with a lot of high energy.”
Sunday’s defeat was definitely a blow for the Matadors. Goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo said that by taking a different approach to Thursday’s game against Fullerton, the team should have different results.
“Just stay together as a unit (and) we need to communicate a little bit better with the back line, that was our biggest thing, communication,” Jacobo said. “We are going to give it all we got, we want to end up in a good spot in the Big West and keep fighting for what we want.”