The Matadors extended their winning streak to three games Saturday night against the visiting UCR Highlanders, in a nail biting 2-1 double overtime win.
Coming into the game down two starters, the Highlanders (8-5-0, 1-4-0 Big West Conference) had an uphill climb to overcome a red-hot Matadors (10-4-0, 4-1-0 BWC) team, a hill they were never able to climb.
Starting hot out of the gate, the Matadors put up their first shot 45 seconds into the game, and kept the Highlanders confined in their own half for the first 10 minutes. This resulted in multiple shots for the Matadors, but they were unable to put anything into the back of the net, shooting wide on all their attempts.
Redshirt sophomore forward Edwin Rivas attempted the first shot on goal for either team, bringing Highlander freshman goalie Ashkan Khosravi sliding to his knees for the save. Rivas had a game high six shots, but none accounted for a CSUN score.
Not pushing the lines up and not playing behind the Highlander’s defensive lines helped contribute to a slow offensive night for the Matadors, according to senior midfielder Rene Anguiano.
The Matadors were finally able to breakthrough in the second half against the Highlanders on a free kick. Redshirt junior defender Yuval Barak touched the ball to redshirt junior midfielder Chris Smith who kicked the ball in a curl over a diving Khosravi for his first goal of the season.
Smith’s goal seemed to ignite a flame underneath the Highlander’s offense, who responded by putting intense pressure on the Matador’s vaunted defense.
“I think we let down after our goal and they picked it up, it was a game of momentum and it shifted after the goal, and then they came at us,” said head coach Terry Davila. “We had a tough time getting the momentum back after the penalty kick.”
UCR was finally able to put up its first goal in the second half against the Matadors on a penalty kick after a foul by sophomore defender Mynor Giron who was battling a bit too hard for a loose ball.
Taken by the Highlanders’ Julio Reyes, the ball sailed under CSUN’s senior goalkeeper, Michael Abalos, for his first goal of the season.
A slow moving first overtime culminated in the Highlanders swarming the Matadors’ goal, leaving the players and audience tense until the final minute.
“We believed in the game plan the coaches laid out, just stick with it, and luckily it worked out for us today,” said redshirt senior defender Joe Franco.
The Matadors were able to come through for the win three minutes into second overtime on a corner shot from Barak to junior midfielder Carlos Benavides. Benavides then passed to Anguiano at the top of the box, putting it into the top shelf for his first goal of the season.
“I saw the ball coming to me from Benavides and saw the frame open, I didn’t think about it, it was overtime whoever scores wins, so I just saw the opportunity to shoot it and it went in,” said Anguiano.
A melee in front of the Matadors goal resulted in head injuries for redshirt freshman midfielder Trevor Morley and Highlander sophomore forward Ulises Mosqueda. Both players returned to action in the second half.
A physical night on the field resulted in nine yellow cards being issued, including six to the Matadors.
This win marked the first overtime victory at Matador Soccer Field since 2009 and with 10 victories on the season, Northridge is guaranteed its first winning season since 2009.