The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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M-Soccer: Improved Matadors doomed by close last-minute losses in 2011

CSUN fell to UC Santa Barbara in OT Nov. 1, falling short of the Big West Tournament. Photo credit: Andres Aguila / Daily Sundial

With CSUN sweeping its conference series over Cal State Fullerton in a 2-1 victory Saturday night, the Matadors ended their season with an overall record of 8-8-3, 4-4-2 in the Big West Conference.

Overtime was the problem that plagued Northridge for the entire season as the Matadors only went 0-4-3 in games that went beyond 90 minutes. Defender and co-captain Joe Franco doesn’t want to think about those stats heading into next season.

“We can brush it off. We don’t want to put any negative hoaxes on us,” Franco said. “We just learn from our mistakes this season. They’re good learning experiences and just move on to next season and do better. I’m looking forward to it.”

Compared to the team’s 2010 overall record of 3-14-2, it doesn’t take much to see the improvement CSUN head coach Terry Davila’s team made in 2011.

“Our program is turning around, it’s going in the right direction,” Davila said after CSUN’s game against UC Santa Barbara Tuesday night. “Hopefully next year we’ll take these last-second games instead of not being in them.”

Davila will be losing four players from his club next year, including midfielder and co-captain Rafael Garcia.

“It’s a bittersweet ending to a long journey of five years here,” Garcia said after the UCSB match.

Garcia is unsure of what the future will bring for him.

“No one likes change. We’ll see (this) week when I wake up and don’t have to practice. We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy the moment, spend as much time with these guys as possible, because we only have three or four days left together.

“I couldn’t be happier with the effort from everyone.”

Garcia said it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the team improved compared to last season.

“We have tremendous talent and a great group of players,” he said. “This team’s going to go places in the near future, definitely. For them to be successful next year, they have to fix those little errors that we had this year, and I’m sure they will.”

Freshman midfielder Yarden Azulay said he had a productive season and looks forward to coming back in 2012.

“I want to come back so bad,” the Israeli player said. “We have a couple of seniors that are leaving us right now, but I’m sure we’re going to have a couple of new freshmen that are going to lift this team up.”

Franco saw this season as a bounce-back year for the team, but also realizes the group wouldn’t have been the same without the seniors.

“They’re obviously a huge part of our team,” said Franco, a junior. “But I think we’ll have players that will jump into those positions that are confident enough and should step up and fill the shoes that the seniors have left.”

One match that will linger in the minds of the Matadors during the offseason is their last-minute loss to UC Riverside on the road on Oct. 19. CSUN scored the first goal of the match with four minutes left on the clock, but the Highlanders came back and scored two goals in a span of a minute and a half to take the victory away from the Matadors.

“We had a good season. It was just a couple of little things that we didn’t do better,” Azulay said. “I think that loss in Riverside just tore us apart. I think we deserved to be in the playoffs.”

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