As a program that has been around for 14 long years, the Cal State Northridge Matadors were lifted to a milestone by a pair of newcomers.
Freshmen Nancy Avesyan and Brielle Slepicoff each scored a goal for the Matadors as they defeated the UC Davis Aggies 2-0 Friday at Matador Soccer Field, giving Northridge it’s 100th win in program history.
‘It means a lot to me to be a part of this,’ said Head Coach Keith West, who has coached the team to 21 out of the 100 victories. ‘It’s exciting. I love this school.’
Even the first-year players feel the importance of the achievement.
‘It feels amazing,’ said Avesyan, who was credited with the game-winning goal. ‘I’m glad I’m able to be a part of history here.’
The road to the milestone was definitely a rocky one, as the Matadors were denied their previous seven attempts at the win. Their 99th victory came all the way back on Sept. 15 against Saint Mary’s.
Even through the first half on Friday, things weren’t looking as bright as they ended up. Both teams came out with intensity in the first minutes of play, and it helped both of them get clean looks at the goal. In the fourth minute, Matador sophomore Sonia Espitia was alone running down the right side and unloaded a shot just outside of the box that was saved by Aggie goalkeeper Sarah Peters. Davis then had its first chance off a corner kick two minutes later. Gabina Bohlman took the cross and got a head on it, but it sailed wide right. Northridge had a second one-on-one opportunity in the 10th minute, this time with Avesyan charging up the field, but she was unable to get off a shot as the Aggie defense stymied her.
The back and forth action continued through the rest of the half, and in the 31st minute, it looked like the Aggies would score the game’s first goal. Matador goalkeeper Leah Elliot charged out to retrieve a loose ball and was met by Jordan Martin of Davis. Martin got a foot on the ball and flipped it over Elliot, but it ended up wide of the net.
The Aggies finished the first half with twice as many shots as the Matadors, but the game remained scoreless.
When the second half began, Avesyan looked like she had a will to get the Northridge offense up and running. In the 48th minute, she had yet another one-on-one chance, and this time got a shot off, but Peters was able to make a sliding save on the attempt. The goalkeeper had seven saves in the game.
In the 54th minute, the entire Matador bench jumped up when it thought Avesyan had found the back of the net. She had the keeper off balance from the right box, but her shot traveled just to the left of goal. Her persistence would pay off just two minutes later, though. Senior Kristal Phillips crossed the ball into the middle and Erin Kelly got off a shot. Peters made the initial save, but the rebound bounced away and Avesyan was able to kick it in.
‘The key all game was energy,’ said Avesyan, who now has three goals this season. ‘It’s been rough for us lately but we came and played our hearts out today and we got a ‘W’.’
With the score, the Matadors looked to their defense to hold the lead against a now-very-aggressive Davis team. The Aggies began attacking heavily in the 60th minute, getting good looks, but none good enough to get the ball past Elliot. She made saves off a header, a free kick and a corner kick in that span to keep the shutout intact. She finished with six saves in the game.
In the 81st minute, the Matadors were able to ice the game. Slepicoff scored her first career goal at CSUN when she found herself all alone racing up the center of the field. Peters came out to try and make the save, but Slepicoff chipped it in over her head to essentially end the game.
‘I took a nice touch pass and ran with it,’ said Slepicoff, the 10th Northridge player to register a goal this year. ‘It feels really good to win. We put in a lot of effort, and we all wanted it.’