The game between the No. 19 Matador men’s soccer team and UC Riverside ended the same way it did the last time the teams met on Sept. 28 – with a Matador victory.
CSUN extended its seven-game winning streak by beating the Highlanders 1-0 Saturday at Matador Soccer Field.
Senior midfielder Will Beard, who scored the only goal of the match for the Matadors, won the game. Beard’s goal was shot during the first half of the match in minute 26. Freshman midfielder Devin Deldo sent the ball inside the box, between Beard and UCR goalie Jordan King for the assist. Beard sealed off his defender and kicked it passed King to give CSUN the early lead.
“Finally!” Beard said with relief after scoring his first goal of the season. “It feels good, especially when it won the game (for us).”
The second half was more physical than the first, ending with 13 fouls committed by both teams, nine of them coming from the Highlanders.
“Our main goal was to try not to get caught in fouls,” Beard said.
But the effort of the Highlanders did not change drastically from the first half, as UCR’s star player Kyle Ochoa was limited to only one shot over the entire match.
CSUN’s Beard had a second opportunity to score, beating both a Highlander defender and King, resulting in an open net. He managed to kick the ball softly towards the welcoming goal, but the ball missed by only a few feet.
In minute six, senior midfielder Gianni Facio attempted to score from 20 feet out, but King saved his shot.
UCR followed with a goal attempt as Randy Poggio sent a shot from 25 yards out that sailed high and to the left. The Matadors’ freshman goalkeeper Kevin Guppy recorded two saves en route to his third shutout in the last four games.
Senior midfielder Daniel Paladini had a game-high three shot attempts for the Matadors, while Beard, junior midfielder Taylor Canel and Deldo had two each. For UCR, sophomore midfielder Steven Kaufman and junior midfielder Erasmo Solorzano had two shots on the match. King made five saves in net.
“All we needed to do was stay focused, play our game, and work hard,” Beard said.
The Matadors improved its overall record to 9-2-3 and remain undefeated in the Big West at 5-0-1.
Winning the match proved to be big hurdle to overcome as the injury bug plagued the Matadors. Starters Alec de Mattos, Zach Feldman and junior star-forward Willie Sims were unable to play in Saturday’s match-up.
“Our main concern was that we had a lot players out with injuries,” said Matador head coach Terry Davila. “The game was a huge win for us in the standings race and our team stepped it up by scoring three goals in the last two games. We fought for it and got it.”
After the game concluded and the crowd filtered out, Beard, a Mission Viejo native, greeted young fans on the field and was congratulated by many of peers on “breaking the curse” by scoring a goal.
The Highlanders fell to a 4-9-1 overall and 2-4 in conference play. The Matadors snapped UCR’s winning streak of two games and held the Big West Player of Week Ochoa goal-less.
“They adjusted and came out gunning for us,” Davila said of UCR’s play. “They played good soccer. The players are very well coached and well taught.”
The CSUN men’s soccer team is currently in first place in the Big West Conference, followed by No. 16 UC Santa Barbara. The Matadors next three opponents include Cal Poly, UC Davis, and an epic rematch against UCSB in Northridge on Nov. 2.
The Matadors will next face Cal Poly on Oct. 26. The Mustangs hold a 4-11-0 overall record, 0-6-0 in the Big West.
Charles Keeranan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.