With playoff hopes minutes away from disappearing, the Lady Matadors took the pitch on the final day of the regular season with aspirations of advancing to postseason play.
Despite a victory, it would be their last game in 2008.
Northridge defeated Cal State Fullerton 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Matador Field on Senior Day, but the Pacific Tigers finished beating UC Davis 2-0 just moments into the Matadors’ match. The result gave Pacific the fourth and final seed in the 2008 Big West Conference tournament.
The coaches got word of the Tigers’ victory as it became final, but the players were out of the loop. After the game ended, they found out the news.
‘We came out with so much energy (Sunday) to keep playing,’ said Kristal Phillips, who scored the Matadors’ last goal of the season. ‘I still think we showed that we’re capable of competing.’
The scoring in the game didn’t open up until late in the first half, but it looked like it would be a lot sooner. Matador freshman Nancy Avesyan had a breakaway opportunity and was one-on-one with Titan keeper Shannon Simpson in the 15th minute. However, a Fullerton defender grabbed Avesyan and slowed her down enough to knock the ball away. No foul was called on the grab and the Northridge bench showed it’s disapproval.
‘It’s an easy call,’ said Head Coach Keith West. ‘She grabbed her right in the box. It’s a foul.’
The Matadors kept working and it paid off in the 36th minute. Sophomore Michelle Moore received an up field pass from junior Sydney Vermillion and raced Simpson to the ball.
Moore was able to get to it first and knocked it into the back of the net to give Northridge the 1-0 halftime lead. It was Moore’s first goal on the year, and Vermillion’s first assist.
CSUN then doubled its lead right off the second half kickoff. Senior Tryna Tafoya received the ball on the left side and attempted a shot that traveled wide right. Sophomore Sonia Espitia saved the ball from going out of bounds and kicked it right to Avesyan who was directly in front of the net. Avesyan put the ball in for the 2-0 lead. It was Tafoya’s third assist of the year. Espitia was also credited on the play.
A two goal cushion in the second half would usually put a team on defensive mode to preserve the lead, but not Northridge, which continued to be the aggressor. Just six minutes later, Phillips took a pass from Avesyan and beat Simpson from the right side of the box.
‘I was striving for a goal all game,’ said Phillips, who was honored along with Tafoya, Nalena Betancourt, and Tinamarie Lutizetti before the match as part of the Senior Day festivities. ‘I wanted one last goal here so I just kept pushing myself. It was very exciting.’
The rest of the match saw the Titans come up short while trying to come back from the three-goal deficit. They were able to get one back in the 84th minute. Claudia Munoz put the ball past a diving Leah Elliot off a throw-in from Jenae Gibbens. All other attempts were off target or saved by Elliot, who finished with seven stops in the game and 113 on the year, good for second on the Matador all-time list. Elliot did not miss a single second of action this season.
Northridge finished the year with an overall record of 8-9-2 and 3-4-1 in the Big West. It fell just one win short of advancing to the conference playoffs, meaning that the 1-0 home loss to UC Riverside on Thursday was the ultimate back-breaker.
‘It comes down to scoring goals,’ West said. ‘We couldn’t do it then. You have to score goals.’