The Matadors (12-2-1, 4-1-1) cemented themselves atop the Big West South Division after defeating Cal State Fullerton (6-7-1, 3-2-1) 2-1 in the first minute of overtime, Wednesday night at Matador Soccer Field.
Following a miscue from the Titan’s goalkeeper, sophomore midfielder David Turcios was able to cash in and score on a well timed bicycle kick.
Senior forward Beto Velasquez was credited with the assist on the game-winner and tallied the first goal for the Matadors.
“I was trying to get the cross but he (Velasquez) didn’t cross it, then I looked back and the goalie dropped it (ball) and I turned, and scored-I couldn’t believe it but thank god it went in,” Turcios said.
Northridge dominated Fullerton in the first half, controlling the tempo and applying pressure at every opportunity.
The best chance for CSUN came with 30 seconds left, when junior midfielder Marino Peixoto’s effort just went wide of the right post.
Although Northridge held the edge in shots 13-1, Fullerton was able to keep the Matadors off the scoreboard.
“They (Fullerton) have very explosive players all over the field and an outstanding coach, and they were ready tactically, they did a good job in the first half,” said head coach Terry Davila.
The breakthrough for the Matadors came in the sixth minute of the second half, when Velasquez’ shot found the top left corner of the net.
Senior forward Brian Behrad played the ball to junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari, who left it for Velasquez near the top of the box.
Velasquez then blasted the ball off the crossbar and past Titan goalkeeper Bryan Escalante for his fifth goal of the season.
“I knew Sagi needed support, so I ran and asked for the ball and he just made a great assist,” Velasquez said.
Four minutes later, sophomore defender Trevor Morley was shown a red card for a tackle just outside of the box.
Momentum swung in Fullerton’s favor after the ejection and the Titans answered with a goal of their own in the 58th minute of play.
After stealing the ball from the Matador defense, Amara Soumah made a hard run down the left flank and slotted a shot past sophomore goalkeeper Adam Hobbs for his third goal of the year.
“We’re definitely an attacking team so it (red card) took us off our feet, we knew defense had to come first, but we knew to win the game we needed to attack,” Velasquez said.
The last 32 minutes of regulation were played cautiously by both sides, yet each team had an opportunity to win the game late.
In the 71st minute, senior midfielder Chris Smith lobbed a ball that sprung Behrad on a break, but the forward’s shot ended up hitting the right post.
Titan midfielder Garrett Losee also hit the post in the 88th minute, sending the game into overtime.
Despite being down a man, the Matadors were able to capitalize just one minute into overtime to win the game.
With the win, Northridge captured first place in the Big West South Division with four games remaining.
Davila was pleased with the victory over a quality conference opponent like Fullerton.
“We knew how big this game was, we knew how good Fullerton’s been playing,” said Davila. “It’s always a tremendous opportunity to play against our rival and for first place the game was even bigger than it usually is.”