The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Matadors fight, but drop close one to USC

In their final tune-up before Big West Conference action, the Matadors (5-5-1) fell 2-1 to the No. 5 USC Trojans (10-1-0) Sunday afternoon at McAlister Field.

The Trojans were aggressive early in the game and scored the first two goals before the Matadors got on the board. Northridge fell short for the second straight game, but came away pleased with its efforts.

‘We played excellent,’ said Head Coach Keith West. ‘We couldn’t have played much better.’

When the game got underway, USC controlled the ball on offense. It looked to break through in the opening minutes, but was denied by the Northridge defense. The Matadors then had their chances 10 minutes into the contest with a corner kick and two free kicks close to the goal, but couldn’t get the ball home.

The Trojans opened the scoring in the 16th minute when sophomore Ashli Sandoval headed the ball through the net off a cross from senior Stacey Strong. The goal was Sandoval’s fifth of the season. In the following minutes, USC looked to get on the board again, but Leah Elliot made two nice saves, including a diving save to her right off of a bullet from 25 yards out. The Trojans finished the first half with 16 shots, a high for a Matador opponent this season.

‘They were ripping the ball at me,’ said Elliot, who finished with a career-high 10 saves. ‘They’re really good and I was a little nervous. I just had to suck it up and do it.’

Northridge had one last good look to tie it before halftime, but freshman Nancy Avesyan’s shot traveled just high of the net with a few minutes remaining.

When the second half began, the Trojans didn’t waste any time getting back at it. Less than two minutes had gone by when sophomore Alyssa Davila headed a ball past Elliot for her sixth goal of the season. Strong was credited with the assist on the goal, making it her second of the game and fifth of the year.

Just when it looked like USC was going to run away with yet another game, Matador sophomore Katie Fox headed in a corner kick from senior Kristal Phillips to bring Northridge back within one in the 52nd minute.

‘It was a perfect ball from Kristal,’ said Fox, whose goal was her second of the season. ‘She made it very easy for me to head it in.’

In the 60th minute, it looked like the Trojans had scored again to take a 3-1 lead, but the goal was negated by an offsides’ call and the Matadors were still only down by one.

Sophomore Michelle Moore looked to tie the game in the 70th minute, but her shot from 20 yards out was tipped over the net by Trojan goalkeeper Kristin Olsen.

Northridge’s final opportunity came with two minutes left to play when freshman Brielle Slepicoff took an up-field pass and blasted a shot from the right box that sailed just wide of the goal.

‘I think we played really well,’ said Fox. ‘The team put a complete effort out and we have a lot of confidence we will perform well in conference play.’

The Matadors had reason to be pleased with their performance. They were the first team to score a goal against the Trojans in four games and held them to only two goals after USC had been averaging five per game in its previous six matches.

‘They were a really good challenge,’ said USC Head Coach Ali Khosroshahin. ‘I think it was similar to what we’ll see in our Pac 10 Conference play, and that says a lot.’

CSUN fell to 0-4 against Pac-10 competition this season.

Phillips’ assist was her team-leading fourth of the season. She now has 11 for her career, tying her for second on the Matador’s all-time list with current teammate Tryna Tafoya and former Matador Riya Gough.

Northridge will open up their conference action on Friday when they travel to Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos.

‘Our conference is very tough,’ said West, who is still looking to coach the Matadors to their 100th program victory. ‘We just need to stick to what we do and stay consistent so that we can work towards getting into the NCAA tournament. That’s our goal right there.’

Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. at Harder Stadium.

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