Men’s Soccer: No. 20 CSUN clinches playoff berth with victory at Cal State Fullerton

Andrew Martinez

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File Photo / Daily Sundial

The Matadors clinched a playoff berth with their 1-0 shutout of the Titans Wednesday night on the road. CSUN is now three points behind UC Irvine for first place in the Big West South. File Photo / Daily Sundial

The No. 20 Matadors (13-4-1, 5-3-1) punched their ticket to the postseason Wednesday night, as they snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated Cal State Fullerton (6-10-1. 3-5-1) 1-0 at Titan Stadium.

With the victory, the Matadors have locked up a spot in the Big West Tournament, and have a chance to clinch a share of the South Division title when they travel to No. 24 UC Irvine on Saturday.

The lone goal in the match would come in the 28th minute, as senior midfielder Chris Smith found the back of the net after an assist by junior forward Sagi Lev-Ari and senior midfielder Carlos Benavides for his fourth goal of the season.

Freshman goalkeeper Damien Lewis recorded a shutout in the first start of his career, as he saw only six shots on goal behind a strong Matador defense.  Fullerton only managed three shots after Smith’s goal, and didn’t manage a shot attempt for the last 25 minutes of the match.

Lewis would record a single save, a shot attempt by Titan sophomore defender Mark Vasquez in the 55th minute.

The Matador attack would keep the Titans on their toes throughout the match, as they pestered Fullerton’s defense with 15 shots, forcing Fullerton senior goalkeeper Robbie Hannon to make five saves.

In addition to shutting down the Titan attack, the Matadors played a relatively clean match, committing 10 fouls but only two in the second half. Junior forward Edwin Rivas would be penalized with the Matadors’ only yellow card, coming in the fourth minute in a play which Titan senior defender Jaime Cano also received a yellow card.

Cal State Fullerton would rack up two more yellow cards in the waning minutes, as sophomore forward Dyllan Stevens and sophomore midfielder Colin Okirie were given yellow cards in the 85th and 89th minute, respectively.

The Matadors’ season finale Saturday at UC Irvine has shaped up to be the most important match of the season, as CSUN will be battling for a share of the South Division crown as they now trail UC Irvine by three points in the division, 19 to 16.

CSUN will also be looking to avenge their 1-0 loss to the Anteaters at home only two weeks earlier which dropped the Matadors out of the top five.