Using minimal offense and impenetrable defense, the Matadors won their first Big West Championship since 2005 and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament Saturday night as they brought down the hosting UC Davis Aggies 1-0.
“You have to work hard in this sport. We’ve had a couple of rough seasons recently but being on the top now is a wonderful feeling,” said head coach Terry Davila to Northridge Athletics in a press release. “We’ve had excellent support from our administration, our fellow coaching staffs, their student-athletes and our team.”
The game’s lone goal, put in the back of the net by sophomore forward Sagi Lev-Ari, came from CSUN’s first shot attempt which came off an assist by redshirt junior Chris Smith. Though the strike bounced off the crossbar, it landed behind the goalkeeper’s line, earning the Matadors a goal 15 minutes into the game. The score marked Lev-Ari’s 14th score of the season and 7th gamewinner.
Despite being outshot 14-8 (5-3 on goal) Northridge’s defense held strong as senior goalkeeper Michael Abalos, coming fresh off winning the Goalkeeper of the Year award, recorded five saves and pitched his 10th shutout of the season and fourth in a row. Abalos, who has only give up 11 goals on the season, now is tied for second all-time in most single-season shutouts.
After the game, Lev-Ari was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as he also scored the game-winning goal last Wednesday against the Cal Poly Mustangs, whom the Matadors also shutout 2-0.
CSUN opponent in the NCAA Tournament will be announced Monday, Nov. 12 at 2:30 p.m.
“There is some anxiety because we don’t know where we will play, but this anxiety is better than not knowing if our names will be called,” said Davila in the press release.