The Matador men’s soccer team started off quiet before nailing a goal to end the first half, and scoring early in the second to cruise to a 2-0 victory over the non-conference UC Davis Aggies.
The No. 14 Matadors extended their unbeaten streak to nine games, improving its record to 11-2-3 overall. The loss for UC Davis drops its record to 6-8-2.
“This win is a tribute to our team depth, with players stepping up … it’s big for us,” head coach Terry Davila said. “It’s all about match-ups. We pose problems offensively, especially on our home field.”
The Matadors, playing short-handed, earned the win without star forward Willie Sims. However, CSUN received goals, for the first time this season, from freshman Brian Siu and senior Zach Feldman. Siu scored in minute 44 and Feldman in minute 60.
“I got the ball from Chad Borak, saw Devin Deldo on the line, the defender came at him and Devin laid the ball off – I ran through and (scored),” Siu said. “We were trying to attack (and) take some momentum into the second half. We were trying to broke them down and finally found our way through.”
CSUN outshot UC Davis 19-10 for the match, including a 14-6 advantage in the first half.
The second Matador goal came as Feldman rebounded a blocked ball by the Aggie defender and fired it past goalkeeper Brian Wickers to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
“It was a broken play in the box,” Feldman said. “(I) hit it under the goalie.”
The Matadors had more corner kicks than UC Davis in the heated battle that saw 19 combined fouls in the first half, 15 by the Matadors and 16 by UC Davis. Each team had one yellow card issued in the game.
“We just missed a few of the chances and it finally popped in before the half,” Davila said. “I never would want to be a referee. If your off by an inch (or) miss one play, its not a college problem it’s a world problem.”
The shutout is also the fifth in the last six games for CSUN, which played without starters Taylor Canel and Sean Franklin, who sat out due to yellow card accumulation, and Alec de Mattos and Willie Sims, who were injured.
“We learned to attack with all the rest of our players and work the ball around for a good option,” Siu said.
Feldman, Jeff Konoske, Paladini and Siu each had three shots for the Matadors, while Deldo and senior Will Beard had two.
“When we score early we get a chance to give our younger players a chance to play and we got the win,” freshman Michael Gordon said.
Juan Hernandez and Nicholas Lind each had two shots for the Aggies, while Wickers made five saves.
“We need to get mentally sharper and take advantage of every game we play and get some of these guys healthy,” Davila said. “We want to win the Big West Conference and advance as far as we can in the playoffs.”
“I thought we played very well. We had a few chances we could have finished,” Gordon said. “It doesn’t take the pressure off (playing a non conference team). We have a goal and were going to try to meet it.”
UC Davis will be in the Big West Conference in 2007. They are going through a four-year transition period, where the team must play three years of conference competition without eligibility for the playoffs. UC Davis is in its second year of the transitional period.
Malik Lee can be reached at email@example.com.