Following a 2-0 loss to UC Irvine that dropped them from the top spot in the Big West Conference, the Matadors (5-5-1, 2-1 Big West) find themselves tied for second place with UC Davis and Cal Poly, team they face tonight.
The Mustangs (5-4-2, 2-1) crushed UC Riverside, 5-0, Sunday afternoon. Cal Poly tallied 21 shots, eight on goal, and limited the Highlanders to nine shots, four on goal.
The last time CSUN played Cal Poly was Nov. 6, 2010, and the Matadors lost 2-0 at home. The Mustangs finished 5-3-2 in the Big West last season and lost to UC Santa Barbara in the conference tournament’s semifinals.
“Cal Poly is excellent,” said CSUN associate head coach Yossi Raz. “They just came off a 5-0 win in the Big West and I don’t know (the last time I heard) of a Big West team beating another (by that much).”
Cal Poly is led by junior forward Dakota Collins, who has two goals and one assist this season. Offensively, the Mustangs tend to shoot and score more in the second half, a tendency CSUN also has.
“They have a quality bench, a quality team on the field, and a quality coaching staff,” Raz said.
Saturday night’s loss at UC Irvine left the Matadors scoreless despite 13 shots, 11 on goal.
“What we worked on (Monday in practice) was focusing offensively, like finishing our chances,” said CSUN defender Joe Franco. “We know we created a lot of chances, but we just got to bury them. Even though we had more chances than them, they just put away their few and won the game.”
Matador defenders were put to the test against the Anteaters’ shooting, but even deflections worked against them. UCI’s first score was an own goal.
“I hate to say it, but a little bit of luck had something to do with it,” Franco said. “An own goal for them, and then another slippery (shot) that went through our defenders’ legs. A little bit of luck has to go into it, too.
“We can’t let it fall into luck’s hands. We have to worry about finishing our chances and put the game in our hands.”
Wasted opportunities on offense have CSUN head coach Terry Davila concerned about the team’s scoring abilities.
“We have to also score goals,” Davila said. “You just can’t hold a team down defensively, you have to score goals. That’s the name of the game.”
Raz hopes the ball will bounce the Matadors’ way this time against Cal Poly.
“Sometimes you don’t play good, and some you win,” Raz said. “You make corrections while you’re winning that are positive.”
Raz said the team needs to improve tactically, raise its energy levels, stick to its game plan and execute it.
“We need to be a little more focused, we need to be a little more sharp,” Raz said. “Players (need) to understand their roles a little better and hopefully we’ll be prepared. We’re in the game, but we’re not good enough to win the game.”