Men’s Soccer: #25 CSUN remains perfect with 2-1 victory over Saint Mary’s

Darko Debogovic

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Sophomore defender Victor Vasquez defends a Saint Mary player. Photo credit: Araceli Castillo / Contributor

Sophomore defender Victor Vasquez defends a Saint Mary player. Photo credit: Araceli Castillo / Contributor

The Matadors (4-0) rallied from an early one goal deficit to defeat Saint Mary’s (2-1) 2-1 in the dying seconds of overtime, keeping their unbeaten streak alive Sunday afternoon at the Matador Soccer Field.

Senior forward Brian Behrad tallied both goals for Northridge including the game-winner, handing the Gaels their first loss of the season. Four Matadors recorded points in the game.

“It was frustrating that we weren’t beating these guys, I just wanted to do whatever I could to help get the ball in the goal but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Behrad.

Although Northridge set the tempo and controlled the ball well, they conceded the first goal in the 34th minute of play.

An errant pass by the defense was intercepted by Gaels forward Ismail Adam, who dribbled his way 35 yards from the goal and sent a right footed shot past diving goalkeeper Adam Hobbs.

CSUN’s best chance came off the foot of senior forward Beto Velasquez who missed the top right corner of the crossbar off a free kick.

Despite out shooting Saint Mary’s 11-6 in the first-half, the Matadors looked one step slower than the speedy Gaels.

“Part of playing varsity soccer is game fitness, we were playing against a team that was fresh, they were waiting for us for a week,” said head coach Terry Davila.

Heading into the second half, the Matadors determination paid off.

In the opening minutes Velasquez juked his way into the heart of the Gaels defense before defender Rafael Sanchez swept his foot and earned a red card.

“There’s a couple of ways to stop us, either we’re going to miss or you’re going to foul us and they decided to foul us recklessly” said Davila. “They got a little physical in the second, Beto’s a tough player to stop and they deserved the red card.”

After the ejection the Matadors turned up the pressure scoring the equalizer off a beautifully timed set-piece corner kick.

Senior midfielder Chris Smith lobbed the ball to Behrad who was waiting near post for the easy tap-in header.

“I set the ball down, I saw Brian and I knew exactly where he was going,” said Smith. “I knew that if I put the ball anywhere in his area it was going to be a great attempt on goal and he made the best of it.”

Northridge ended regulation out shooting Saint Mary’s 22-12, but despite playing a man down, the Gaels defense hung tough and forced the game into overtime.

Both goalkeepers were tested early in the extra period and each came away with a save.

With the final seconds dwindling down, CSUN pressed forward and was awarded a throw in on the left side.

Velasquez sent a pass to freshman midfielder Steven Manios who threaded the ball to the far post just in time for Behrad to get his head on it, ending the game with six seconds left in the period.

The win marks the Matadors fourth in a row and their best start since the 1987 season. Northridge is 4-0 for the first time in the program’s division I history.

CSUN will hit the road for the first time this year on Friday, when they travel to Albuquerque, N.M. for the 2013 TLC Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Lobo Invitational.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. against Central Arkansas followed by a game against the host, New Mexico on Sunday, at 6 p.m.

Behrad is excited for an opportunity to help extend the team’s unbeaten streak.

“New Mexico is a very tough place to play, but we’re a pretty fit group and we’ve got a lot of heart. We’re playing some very strong teams and I think it’s going to be our hardest challenge so far.”