CSUN women’s soccer clinches playoff spot with two goals

Brandon Henson

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Melissa Fernandez (10) controls the ball as a Titan defender tries to take the ball from her during Thursday night’s game at Matador Field. Photo Credit: sidhu vedula / contributing photographer

Two first-half goals sealed CSUN’s playoff berth as it cruised past Cal State Fullerton in a 2-0 victory at Matador Field in a Big West match Thursday night.

Senior forward Farryn Townley and sophomore defender Katie Russ struck the net against the Titans and guaranteed the Matadors a spot in the Big West Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive year. 

The Matadors (11-8, 5-3), who will be the third seed, travel to second seed Long Beach State (12-4-2, 5-1-1) Thursday night. This will be CSUN’s third postseason appearance in school history.

The first goal of the game came from all-time leading scorer Townley, who showed her speed receiving a pass from sophomore forward Melissa Fernandez, dashing down open field to a one-on-one showdown with Titan freshman goalkeeper Lindsey Maricic and knocking the ball right past her to the far post.

Townley’s score marked her 21st career goal and 11th game-winner. She now has 46 career points, setting a new school record. Excited about the goal, Townley discussed her team and the progress they have shown this season.

 “Great feeling,” Townley said. “(I’m) super proud of my team. We have worked really hard the entire year, we have been working since January for this moment right now and we definitely have something to prove in the Big West Tournament.”

Fernandez assisted on the next Matador goal as well. After Maricic deflected her free kick, Russ quickly cleaned the play up and knocked the ball into the net, scoring her first career goal as the first half winded down in the 44th minute of regulation.

Russ seemed ecstatic about her first goal and the approaching Big West Tournament.

“I feel great, I’m glad I finally got a goal,” Russ said. “I am excited because I know we can take it all the way this year. Everyone is just thrilled to be here and want to put in the work, so I think we can do it.”

Last year the Matadors ended the season with the second best record in the Big West Conference at 6-2 and were awarded as the team hosted their first-ever home playoff game. CSUN lost 2-1 to UC Santa Barbara in the Big West semifinals.

Head coach Keith West expressed his emotion, jumping up and down on the sideline with his players as he watched the events of the night unfold.

He said he is delighted with the improvement he has seen with his team.

“I think the improvement comes with the girls and their commitment to the game, this team and the school,” West said. “We had a great effort, these girls wanted it bad, they have been training since February for this opportunity and I am proud of the girls and excited for them at the same time,” said.

The game started with Fullerton controlling possession of the ball and getting a shot on goal in the first two minutes of the game by senior midfielder Christina Murillo. Fullerton kept CSUN on the edge and would take three more close shots before the Matadors could get into their offense.

The Matadors then got in on the action in the 15th minute of regulation with a shot by junior forward Heidi Farran, and the team’s offense took off from there. In all, eight different Matadors had multiple shots on the night.

Overall, Fullerton led CSUN in shots 22-20 and the Matadors had the advantage in corner kicks, 4-2, and fouls, 9-8. 

In the net for the Matadors, Cynthia Jacobo recorded her seventh shutout of the season with nine saves, marking a new career-high for the sophomore. Maricic recorded eight saves in the loss for the Titans.

As the team wrapped up the game, West said the season is not over just yet.

 “I think we are going to Long Beach or Irvine and we had some good showings down there, and it’s going to be a heck of a game and we are looking forward to the challenge,” West said.