The CSUN men’s soccer team finished the 2010 season with an overall record of 3-14-2, placing dead last in the Big West standings with a record of 2-7-1.
This season was by far the worst under the tenure of head coach Terry Davila, who hasn’t had a losing season in more than a decade.
The Matadors failed to get a night game win at home under the heavily publicized “bright lights” that were supposed to change the face of Northridge soccer.
Still, if you ask how terrible the Matadors were this season, I would surprisingly respond they were actually not that bad — they just lost a lot.
Now, I know the mark of success is usually pretty simple when it comes to sports. The mark is usually based on wins and losses.
But there is a difference between having a team that is just a couple pieces away from success and a team that has to completely dismantle and start from scratch.
I would classify the Matadors as the former.
For example, Northridge had only two wins in the season when they squared off Nov. 2 against UC Irvine, the No. 7 team in the nation.
Northridge was a team that had little to play for and traveled to a hostile environment against arguably the best team on the West Coast, yet found a way to win in the final seconds of the match a header from junior forward Mattias Bonvehi.
No matter how lucky a team may be, it takes skill to defeat a top-10 team in any Division-I sport, and the Matadors definitely showed they had the skill to compete with everybody on their schedule this season apart from No. 2 Akron. They just found a way to lose many times.
Granted that it takes skill and talent to defeat a team like UC Irvine, it is also no fluke when a team goes on a seven-game losing streak like Northridge did this season. The biggest reason why the Matadors were so unsuccessful this season stems from a problem that plagued the team even last season. The problem is not due to a lack of talent, but rather a lack of mental toughness.
At home against No. 9 UCLA, the Matadors more than doubled the Bruins’ shot output, 22-10, yet still lost thanks to two early goals in the first 15 minutes of play, which Northridge could not overcome.
Against then–No. 8 UC Irvine at home, the Matadors executed one of their best halves of the season when they led Irvine 1-0 in the first half and held one of the most prolific scorers in college soccer, forward Amani Walker, to zero shots. Yet they lost after allowing two goals in the second half.
At Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara, two of the most hostile environments the Matadors played in this season on the road, Northridge was outscored by a total of 6-0.
However, CSUN could bounce back next season with leadership.
CSUN is captained by two players who exhibit great leadership qualities and, although both have contrasting styles, it is apparent why both were chosen to lead the team.
Sophomore defender Joe Franco is the one who leads by example. He is a reserved defender who preforms his job excellently and withand ease. Junior midfielder Rafael Garcia, who led the team in points and assists, is the most vocal player of the team and is a natural leader.
With the strong leadership of Franco and Garcia, and with the help of players like midfielder Alberto Rosas and defender Shawin Berenji, who had strong freshman campaigns and exhibited great mental toughness, Northridge should find a way to get more wins next season.