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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Matador goalkeepers win awards for defensive prowess

Matador goalkeepers win awards for defensive prowess
Senior goalkeeper Michael Abalos catches an opponent’s on-goal attempt. Daily Sundial/ File Photo

If there is a formula to being a great goalkeeper, perhaps the CSUN soccer coaches have found it.

CSUN starters Cynthia Jacobo and Michael Abalos both received the preseason All-Big West honors after showing solid performances in their junior seasons, in which Jacobo earned All-Big West Goalkeeper of the Year and Abalos was named an All-Big West Honorable Mention.

“They’re very similar, great people, great families,” said men’s head coach Terry Davila.  “They’re almost identical. They could have the same parents.”

Davila and women’s head coach, Keith West, gushed over the circumstances that have given them two of the premiere goalkeepers in the Big West Conference – a development process that has peaked as both seniors embark on a new season.

“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, I just think it’s timing. We were fortunate enough to get Cynthia and (Davila) was fortunate enough to get Mike and that’s the way things work out sometime,” West said.

According to their coaches, Abalos and Jacobo have the mental confidence, physicality and intelligence needed for their position. More importantly, both keep balls away from the back of the net.

“It’s tough. You can either be the hero, or slip up and be the villain,” Abalos said about the psychology involved in playing between the posts. “You got to be mentally strong. Go into each game with confidence, a lot of confidence in yourself.”

The similarity doesn’t end with their play. Both coaches describe their players as being great communicators and leaders on and off the field.

Jacobo is already living up to her billing this season, recording two shutouts against Arizona State and San Diego while earning Big West Defensive Player of the Week in the process. Her career total for shutouts, 18, is 8 ½ games short of first on CSUN’s all-time list. Jacobo has a good chance of becoming CSUN’s leader in wins with only five remaining to overtake Jenny Willemse (‘98-‘01).

“I just try to stay focused and not let the surroundings affect the way I’m playing and know that I’ve been put in this position before, so I’m able to overcome it,” Jacobo said.

Jacobo started her career at CSUN in 2009 winning All-Big West Freshman of the Year when she closed out the season as CSUN’s starter with five shutouts and a 5-1 record.

Women’s goalkeeper Cynthia Jacobo gets ready to kick the ball into play. Daily Sundial/ File Photo

“She sets the tone for what’s expected and if we make mistakes, we have confidence that she can save our butts,” West said, describing the attributes Jacobo brings to the women’s squad.

Abalos is a two-time All-Big West Honorable mention with a .745 career save percentage and his 14 shutouts, seven of which came just last season, are good enough for third most in a season by a CSUN goalkeeper.

Abalos continued his high level of play this past weekend at the Wilson Titan Classic allowing only one goal in two games. CSUN won both games by a combined five goals and the 4-0 shutout victory against Portland puts Abalos at second on CSUN’s all-time list.

Davila describes Abalos a good distributor of the ball and a physical presence within the box. West goes one step further when assessing the men’s starter, “I think (Abalos) has got a chance to go pro. He’s got all the attributes and qualities of a pro.”

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