The Matador men’s soccer team, ranked No. 19 in the country, will take the field, hosting UC Irvine at Matador Soccer field today at 2:30 p.m.
The Matadors 7-2-3 overall and 3-0-1 in the Big West Conference have a home record of 4-1-1, and are tied for second place with the Anteaters (6-3-3).
The Matador offense has played without its star forward Willie Sims, who has sat out the last two matches, after leaving the Oct. 8th game against UCSB with pain in his knee. Sims leads the team with 18 points on eight goals scored, four of which were game-winners, including two assist and playing in only 10 matches this season.
CSUN’s second leading scorer is senior midfielder Daniel Paladini, who has 13 points on five goals and three assists, after playing in all 12 matches this season.
Filling in for Sims has been senior Alec de Mattos who has taken six of the 43 shots taken by the team in Sims absence.
CSUN’s defense is anchored by freshman goalkeeper Kevin Guppy, who averages a 1.12 goals-against average for the season, after having played between the posts for all but 12 minutes of the season. The Matadors have been able to keep their opposition scoreless in its last two matches as well.
Sophomore defender/midfielder Sean Franklin has also been a big part of the Matador defense. As one of the best defenders in the Big West Conference, and a U.S. U-20 National Team member, Franklin also helped the CSUN offense with three assists on the season, demonstrating his ability to play on both sides of the field.
The Matadors come into today’s match, playing its third of a four game home stand against the UC Irvine Anteaters. The Anteaters have not lost since Sept. 17, reeling off five wins in a row and out-scoring their opposition 13-3. UCI tied UC Santa Barbara last Friday (2-2) in double overtime.
During that stretch, the Anteaters ventured out of Irvine only twice. Today’s game will mark the Anteaters third road game since posting a 5-0-1 record.
Anteater Keeper Ryan Mathy leads the Big West Conference this season with a goals-against average of 0.87. He is also tied for the conference lead in shutouts, with five. His five shutouts on the year tie him for second all-time in a single season for UCI.
Anteater Junior Brad Evans has scored six goals and two assists on the season, totaling 14 points, and leads the UCI offense. Junior Anthony Hamilton is second on the team with five goals and an assist, for 11 points.
The Matadors have won the last five meetings against the Anteaters and have taken a slight edge in the head-to-head record (12-10-2).
CSUN won both of its meetings last season against UCI. The Anteaters last victory over the Matadors came on Nov 14, 2004, with a 1-0 win in Northridge.
The two teams first met in 1984, as the Anteaters emerged victorious 3-2.
CSUN re-entered the national rankings on Oct. 17, recognized in three national polls, coming in as high as No. 19 in College Soccer News, No. 21 in Soccer Times and No. 23 in Soccer America.
The Matadors will finish up a four-match home stand when they face UC Riverside on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Matador Soccer Field.
Malik Lee can be reached at email@example.com.