Finishing off their regular season with a 1-0 loss to visiting UC Irvine, the Matadors were still able to earn the Southern Division Big West regular season crown earning 21 points in division play.
Opening up play against Cal Poly, the Matadors look to win their first Big West Tournament title, having only advanced to the conference final once in 2009. Playing at Cal Poly in early October, the Matadors won 1-0 on a goal 21 seconds into the game by sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari.
Junior forward Mackenzie Pridham of Cal Poly was named the Big West Offensive Player of the year, ranking second in the conference with 11 goals for the season. A 5-1-1 record in their last seven games helped lead Cal Poly into the playoffs, looking for their first Big West Championship.
Leading the Big West with nine All-Big West Team selections, the Matadors have rounded into form, making them one of the most formidable teams in California.
The offense, led by Lev-Ari, averaged nearly two points per game, and helped lead the team to its best record since 2005. Lev-Ari finished the season leading the Matadors with 12 goals, including five game winners, and ranks 17th in the country in goals scored. Senior midfielder Rene Anguiano, Lev-Ari and junior forward Beto Velasquez all earned first time Second Team Big West honors on Monday.
Defensively, the Matadors have one of the strongest backfields in the Big West Conference, fielding two recent defensive Big West award winners. Senior defender Joe Franco earned Defensive Player of the Year and senior goalkeeper Michael Abalos were named the Goalkeeper of the Year on Monday.
These two, along with the rest of the Matadors led the team to a conference high eight shutouts and tied for the conference lead with just 18 goals allowed on the season. Abalos ranked top five in most goalie related categories in the conference, and leaves the program ranking in the top 10 in multiple Big West all-time categories.
Coach Terry Davila, leading the Matadors to a 13-win season and a top 30-ranking in the nation, collected his sixth Big West Coach of the Year trophy as well Monday. The 13 regular season wins stand as the fourth-highest win total in school history.
Just having the regular season title isn’t enough for these Matadors, an NCAA berth is on the line when they open the Big West Tournament, with a chance for the national title. With one of the best regular seasons in recent memory, the team is well-equipped to advance far with nine Matadors on the All-Big West Team.