Matadors can?t hang on

Alonso Tacanga

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A tie on the road against the all-mighty Bruins is usually a good reason to be pleased. The men’s soccer team got that result and is satisfied, but they know they could have got so much more.

The Matadors (4-3-1) went into Drake Stadium, got ahead in the scoreboard twice and looked in good shape to hand UCLA its first-ever home loss at their hands. That, however, was all before a penalty kick in UCLA’s favor in the 84th minute of regulation gave the Bruins a chance to even up the score. The opportunity didn’t go to waste, the score didn’t move anymore through two overtimes and CSUN got out of Westwood with a 2-2 tie on Sunday.

‘We should have put the game away,’ said Matador Head Coach Terry Davila. ‘We had a couple of opportunities to put it away and we didn’t, but we created good opportunities.’

Northridge had the game in the bag after forward Moy Gomez put in his team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 73rd minute for a 2-1 Matador edge. CSUN kept the Bruins at bay with defense thereafter, but a foul by Bo Miller six minutes from the final buzzer granted UCLA midfielder Michael Stephens an unguarded shot 12 feet away from the goal. Stephens converted and sent the game into overtime.

‘Of course we’re disappointed with that last play,’ said Davila, explaining the foul that led to the tying goal. ‘The ball went over our head, it went in between and got behind the outside right (full)back. He was caught in a very compromising position and we gave up a warranted penalty kick.’

‘They got behind us. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did and we got to live with it.’

Overtime saw both Matadors and Bruins reaching each other’s goals. Four minutes into the period, Gomez attempted to give CSUN the win and came close, but UCLA goalkeeper Brian Perk made the save. Then it was Matadors turn to get a break defensively. With just a minute remaining, Bruin midfielder Jason Leopoldo took a shot at being the hero, but the kick was just wide and the teams headed to a second overtime.

The second overtime didn’t see many opportunities for either team and the score remained the same. The Matadors, who beat UCLA last year at home 3-0, packed up and left Westwood knowing they could have gotten more.

‘To play UCLA at UCLA with all their history ‘hellip; it’s a tough place to play,’ said Davila. ‘They have no fear of anyone. To play a team that’s as talented as that at their home field when they know they have to win (it’s tough).’

The Bruins are a record-wise struggling team, but strong at home. Northridge was aware of that. Coming off a big win against Sacramento State, the Matadors went into the game feeling good. CSUN started the game slow, however, and had to repel a couple of Bruin attacks that brought danger to goalkeeper Kevin Guppy’s goal.

UCLA looked closer to opening the score, but it was the visiting team who made the most of its chances first. Just after a Guppy save, Matador midfielder Sunghyun Kim created a goal opportunity for himself and didn’t let it go to waste, putting Northridge up 1-0 in the 23rd minute of play.

The Bruins were down and trying to even up the score and had its clearest failed chance in the 55th minute after forward Eder Arreola had his shot hit the post. The Matadors also threatened, however. Gomez had a great opportunity taken away by a sliding Brad Rusin in the 65th minute, one he wished he could have back given the fact UCLA tied the score only six minutes after.

But the Matadors didn’t let the goal demoralize them and had a quick reaction. Three minutes after the tie, Gomez put CSUN up again 2-1.

UCLA would tie it again on the penalty kick, however. Then the overtimes came and the eventual draw.

After owning a 12-0 all-time record against CSUN, the Bruins now have a four-game winless streak against the Matadors that dates back to 2005.

Northridge remains on the road and will next travel to Omaha, Neb. to play against nationally-ranked Creighton on Wednesday.