The victory on Sunday was the first for the Matadors at Santa Barbara (8-1-3) since 1999, handing the Gauchos their first loss of the season.
“No doubt about it, it is a big win for us,” said head coach Terry Davila in an interview on www.GoMatadors.com. “It is tough to get points at anybody’s place in the Big West. It’s that much tougher at Santa Barbara and we did a good job to close the match out tonight.”
The match was a battle over ball control as each team only took one shot in the first 10 minutes. Senior goalkeeper Michael Abalos was only tested once in the first half, in the 17th minute on a shot by freshman midfielder Ema Boateng.
CSUN got a chance to test Santa Barbara’s goalkeeper Austin Mansker, whoa few minutes later, saved three shots on goal in rapid succession.
Junior forward Beto Velasquez finally broke through for the Matadors late in the first half, scoring his sixth goal of the season, which turned out to be the game decider.
Receiving a pass from junior midfielder Carlos Benavides near midfield, Velasquez juked his defender and put a shot through Mansker’s legs into the net. It was Velasquez’s second game winner of the season.
Going into halftime, the Matadors outshot the Gauchos seven to five.
An airtight defense that has shined all season and stellar goalkeeping by Abalos helped keep them ahead in the second half.
“I thought we did very well all-around. We defended as a group and didn’t allow plays behind us,” Davila said to www.gomatadors.com. “We have a great back line and goalkeeper and our defenders are making it difficult on the opponents.”
With four total shots on goal, the Gauchos didn’t seem to threaten breaking through against the Matadors’ defense until the final minutes.
Gauchos’ midfielder Josue Madueno put up a header towards the goal that nearly flew by Abalos, but hewas able to make the save and preserve the lead. A last minute corner kick from the Gauchos gave them another chance to score, but they came up short.
Abalos earned his 24th win and 19th career shutout for the Matadors. Abalos was awarded Big West Defensive Player of the Week and Big West Madness Player of the Week by College Sports Madness for his efforts.
Unranked last week, and receiving no votes in the national NCAA rankings may change this week for the Matadors after Friday’s win over Cal Poly and Sunday’s victory over UCSB. The Matadors hadn’t beaten both Cal Poly and UCSB on the road in the same season since 1998.
CSUN welcomes No. 26 UC Riverside to Matador Soccer Field on Saturday, before heading on a three-game road trip against Big West opponents.