The CSUN women’s soccer team added a win and a loss to their record at the Nike Invitational in Corvallis, Ore. Sept.1-3, to even their season record at 2-2-0.
The Matadors defeated the University of Alabama at Birmingham 1-0 and fell to Northern Colorado by the same score. Their performance in the tournament was indicative of their season so far: a large amount of shots and a small amount of goals. This season, the Matadors have attempted 65 shots, but scored only four goals.
“We should have won both games 3-0,” said head coach Keith West. “Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in soccer. If you can’t score, you can’t win.”
The Matadors began the tournament with a defensive struggle against the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers. Both teams were held scoreless through the first half and most of the second. The Matadors caught a break in the 74th minute when forward Farryn Townley was tripped inside the penalty box, resulting in a penalty. Defender Sara Davis took the penalty shot and was able to capitalize with a successful penalty kick for her first goal of the season.
Goalkeeper April Cline preserved the victory with strong play between the pipes. She made two stellar saves late in the game, robbing forward Sally Palmer and defender Laura Richards to earn the Matadors their second shutout of the season.
“The defense and I worked well together,” said Cline. “We kept talking to each other and were always on the same page.”
The defense picked up where they left off against the Northern Colorado Bears in the second game of the tournament, allowing only one shot in the first half. The Matador offense had an excellent scoring opportunity in the 12th minute when midfielder Jessy Borges fired a shot that deflected off the post. However, the Matadors were not able to convert a goal.
In the second half, the Matadors turned up the pressure on the Bears. Forwards Kristy Krohn and Kristal Phillips and midfielder Devon Nizich all fired shots at Northern Colorado goalkeeper Chrissy Marvin in the first few minutes of the second half. Marvin lucked out when she deflected Phillips’ shot and the wide-open follow by Susie Mischenko hit the post. The Matadors had 13 shots in the second half and 17 in the game.
Despite great defensive play all game long, it was a breakdown on the back line that cost the Matadors the match. In the 86th minute Marvin punted a long ball up the field where unmarked forward Teresa Prais was waiting. Prais slid the ball past Cline to seal the victory for the Bears.
“It was a defensive miscommunication,” defender Nalena Betancourt said. “We weren’t as focused as we should have been.”
Despite a somewhat disappointing showing in Corvallis, Betancourt said the team showed a lot of character and the ability to be a top-tier team.
“If we play our game and move the ball well, we can dominate any team,” she said.
West chalks the team’s early struggles up to a lack of experience. There are 13 freshmen on the Matador roster and 5 transfer players. He contends the team hasn’t had enough time to establish continuity.
“We’ve just got to win at home,” said West. “Winning is the cure for everything.”
The Matadors will complete their five-game road trip at the City by the Bay Classic in San Francisco Sep. 8-10 where they will face the University of San Francisco and Utah State. They will return home for a match up with the University of Idaho Vandals 12 at Matador Soccer Field on Sept. 12.