The CSUN men’s soccer team came away with a huge win, rallying from behind to beat the Cal State Fullerton Titans 2-1 at Titan Stadium Oct. 4.
“We stuck to our game plan,” head coach Terry Davila said. “We were persistent about it and we got two goals on two set pieces just on persistency.”
Midfielder Taylor Canel scored the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute on a free kick. Canel took the kick at the left side of the box and sent a set piece to the far right into the net.
“I hit it where I wanted to,” Canel said.
Fullerton got on the board first when a CSUN foul set up a free kick at the right of the box five yards out. Defender Amir Shafii then sent a bender over the CSUN wall and past a diving Kevin Guppy into the right net, giving Fullerton the early lead.
Fullerton almost put CSUN in a 2-0 hole when Michael Farfan sent a corner kick from the right side of the CSUN goal into the box toward Shafii.
Shafii then sent a well-guided header toward the goal near the crossbar, but Guppy got his left hand on the ball and deflected it over the goal. Guppy made another save, this time on a long shot from Gabriel Farfan.
CSUN itself had some chances in the first half. Midfielder Devin Deldo led a Matador attack and sent a lowball to midfielder Adrian Lopez at the right. Lopez attempted a sliding shot, but couldn’t connect, and Puder soon smothered the ball. Midfielder Fergie Agwu had two good looks, the first one when he received a pass from Deldo at the top of the Titan box and fired away, but missed to the right. Agwu’s second attempt came when he received a cross from defender Sean Franklin and again fired away, but was saved by Puder.
“We had good looks in the first half, and I felt we could break them down,” Davila said. “They (Fullerton) went back into their shell and played very defensively and we stepped up.”
The Matadors continued to put pressure on Puder and the Titan defense in the second half. Forward Sunghyun Kim sent a pass to Moy Gomez, but Gomez’s shot missed to the right. Then defender Chad Borak took the ball at midfield, charged into the Titan box and let loose a low, straight shot that actually got past a diving Puder, but missed to the left by inches.
Later on, Agwu led another Matador attack at the left side and sent a well-placed cross pass to Kim at the left side of the box. Kim immediately fired away, but Puder got both hands on it and deflected the ball out of bounds.
Puder’s save, however, gave CSUN a corner kick on the right side, and the Matadors quickly capitalized on the opportunity. Canel sent the free kick into the spot of the box where midfielder Dylan Riley was. Riley got to the ball and sent a slow-roller to the left that just cleared the goal line, giving Riley his first goal as a Matador and, more importantly, a tie game.
Immediately following Canel’s go-ahead goal, Farfan took the opening kick for the Titans and quickly ran the ball toward the box and fired away from near the top of the box, but missed over the goal. Fullerton would see a succession of shots go over the goal.
Fullerton, however, nearly tied the game inside the final 15 seconds. CSUN was trying to hold on to the ball, but Eugene Brooks forced a turnover inside Matador territory and with the clock winding down, quickly raced the ball toward the Matador goal. Guppy raced out to challenge Brooks, who then lifted his shot attempt past Guppy, but instead missed to the right.
“We knew what we had to do tonight to get the job done,” Guppy said. “We worked hard at practice and got the result.”
The Matadors will have a week off to prepare for another huge game, as they travel back to Orange County, this time for a matchup with the first-place UC Irvine Anteaters on Oct. 11.