In a game in which the No. 19 ranked Matador men’s soccer team needed a victory over the No. 11 ranked UCLA Bruins, it was only fitting that the two teams would end the match in a tie.
The Matadors and the Bruins managed to keep the ball out of the net and both teams settled for a scoreless tie.
“Overall, I think we outplayed them,” said senior midfielder Daniel Paladini.
CSUN matched UCLA in every category as both teams attempted 12 shots, committed 18 fouls and both goalkeepers made three saves.
The only disadvantage was in the area of corner kicks, with UCLA having nine opportunities, as opposed to CSUN’s six.
“Our defense stepped up,” said CSUN’s freshman goalkeeper Kevin Guppy. “Guys came in and contributed the whole game.”
The Matadors had the best opportunities to score in the first half. The first attempt came on a free kick from Paladini, who then found senior Alec de Mattos in the box. He then found Derek Hanks at the right side, but Hanks shot attempt missed to the left.
Freshman Devin Deldo had a good look at the goal in minute 20, as did sophomore Ferguson Agwu just before the end of the half, but Deldo’s shot attempt sailed high above the goal and Agwu’s attempt was saved by UCLA goalkeeper Nate Peña.
UCLA had the first chance to score in the second half when team point-leader Kamani Hill took the ball to the top of the goal box, but his shot attempt instead found the hands of Guppy.
It was CSUN that had the best opportunity to break the scoreless deadlock. In minute 53, senior midfielder Zach Feldman fired a cross-pass deep into the goalie box, where freshman defender Chad Borak was waiting. But Borak’s shot attempt sailed over the crossbar.
In minute 61, sophomore Sean Franklin took the ball away from the UCLA forwards, dribbled into Bruin territory and fired a ball from 40 yards out, but his attempt, just like Borak’s attempt, tracked harmlessly over the crossbar.
Not to be deterred, the Bruins tried frantically to end the game in the final twenty minutes, but came up short when a header from Sal Zizzo, well inside the box, missed to the right.
UCLA’s urgency was clearly recognized after Patrick Ianni was ejected following an altercation that occurred, forcing the Bruins to play a man down the rest of the match.
“They played us very well,” said UCLA head coach Jorge Salcedo.
Not even two sudden death overtime periods could settle things between the two powerhouse teams, though CSUN still played aggressive.
In the first overtime, sophomore defender Matt Tracy chased down a loose ball and launched a 30-yard shot, only to have Peña redirect the shot away from the goal to keep the game going.
CSUN had one last chance in the final overtime when Daniel Paladini fired a cross-pass inside the box to a charging Agwu, but instead sailed over Agwu, putting an end to the wild afternoon.
Agwu, Deldo and Franklin each had two shot attempts for the Matadors.
“At this level, the maturity of the players says a lot,” head coach Terry Davila said. “You have to tip your hat to them.”
The game was played to a packed crowd of 784 people, including appearances by members of the softball team, men’s basketball team, as well as head coach Bobby Braswell, the CSUN Matador mascot, and members of the Bull Pit, who all made their presence felt urging on the Matador team.
The tie moved CSUN up three spots in the polls to No. 19 while UCLA dropped to No. 11.
CSUN resumes Big West Conference play on Oct. 19 against UC Irvine and UC Riverside on Oct. 22. Both games are at Matador Soccer field at 2:30 p.m.
Ivan Yeo can be reached at email@example.com.