Men’s Soccer: Second half surge lifts CSUN over Memphis

Darko Debogovic

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Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides battles a Memphis Defender

Senior midfielder Carlos Benavides battles a Memphis defender. Photo Credit: Trevor Stamp/Daily Sundial

The CSUN men’s soccer team (2-0) continued their hot play staging an impressive second half rally to knock off Memphis (1-1) in the championship game of the Ryan Rossi Memorial Tournament.

Despite being down a goal 12 minutes into the game, Northridge was able to mount a comeback in the second half, winning their second game in a row.

Junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari recorded a hat-trick in the win and seven Matadors came away with points.

“Memphis is a very good team and it was evident the way they went up 1-0 in the first 20 minutes. They were definitely the aggressors and they took the game to us,” said head coach Terry Davila. “When we’re not on the same page as a unit we aren’t very good, but when we play as a unit, let our players make the plays that should be made, then we’ve got something.”

The first half was very even-keeled as both teams passed the ball well and avoided turnovers.

At the 12 minute mark, Memphis junior defender Chandler Gagnon juked his way through the Matador’s defense and buried the first shot of the game short side past sophomore goalkeeper Adam Hobbs.

“They took the game to us, they put their will on us and we had to chase the game because we weren’t ready to play the way Memphis was ready to play,” Davila said.

Senior forward Beto Velasquez got tangled up with Gagnon and both players received yellow cards.

Although they were down a goal, CSUN managed to out-shoot Memphis 7-5 at the half.

Only a minute into the second half, Gagnon tackled a Northridge player near midfield and received a red card.

The Matadors took advantage of the ejection, as junior forward Edwin Rivas chipped the ball over a Tiger defender to himself and crossed it to a waiting Lev-Ari for a sensational one-timer.

Seven minutes later, a streaking Lev-Ari received a through ball from senior midfielder Carlos Benavides, and buried it past sophomore goalkeeper Cody Uzcategui.

“We have very good coaches that teach us how to make correct runs, but I get very nice passes from my teammates, one of them was from Carlos,” said Lev-Ari.

The Tigers were hit with a second ejection when junior forward Fakhry Khulfan tackled a Matador from behind, depleting their team to 9 players.

“In the second half they got a little bit unfortunate, lost a little composure, and gave us the game,” said Davila.

Lev-Ari completed the hat-trick thanks to assists from freshman midfielder Steven Manios and junior midfielder Yarden Azulay.

One minute later Azulay chipped in with a goal of his own, sending a shot under the Tiger’s diving goalkeeper and giving CSUN a 4-1 lead.

The Matadors finished the game out shooting the Tigers 22-12, and 15-7 in the second half.

Northridge’s upcoming game is against the University of San Diego, the team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament last year. Lev-Ari is looking forward to helping CSUN redeem the last-second, double-overtime loss.

“I can’t wait. We’re going to work hard, press high, and do whatever the coaches tell us,” said Lev-Ari.