The Matador’s suffered their first defeat of the year on Friday with a 1-0 overtime loss to the No. 20 California Golden Bears in the first match of the Saint Mary’s Fall Classic in Moraga. Cal junior Katie Oakes put in the game’s only goal in the 97th minute.
‘Despite the outcome, I think we played well,’ said CSUN assistant coach Juan Plascencia. ‘We shined defensively and all the girls played as hard as they could. Cal was just able to get one goal in to end the game.’
While Cal ended the game, Northridge started it as the attacker when senior Kristal Phillips took the first shot of the contest in just the second minute, but it was saved by Bear goalkeeper Gina Pellegrini. It was the first of the only two shots on goal the Matadors managed to get in the game.
As the first half continued to progress, Cal looked like it might break through in the opening half. In the 26th minute, the Bears had two opportunities at the goal, but shots by freshman Katrin Omarsdottir and sophomore Alex Morgan traveled wide of the net. Just four minutes later, Cal had two more chances. Sophomore Lisa Kevorkian, who leads Cal in goals (5), had a shot a blocked; and then, seconds later, Morgan’s header missed the goal.
The first half ended scoreless.
‘Northridge is a very well-coached team and is very difficult to break down,’ said Cal Head Coach Neil McGuire. ‘We felt like we had to get more width in our play due to the nature of their defensive style.’
Cal seemed to make the adjustment at halftime as the Bears began the second half on offensive mode. Cal took three shots in just three minutes early in the period. The first one was blocked before it reached the net, but the last two needed interventions by Northridge goalkeeper Leah Elliot. Elliot finished the game with a career-high eight saves.
‘Leah played extremely well,’ said Plascencia. ‘She definitely saved us more than once during the game with her great play, but unfortunately we couldn’t get any goals.’ McGuire also came away impressed with Elliot’s performance. ‘Elliot did very well,’ he said. ‘She was able to deal with most of the opportunities we were able to create.’
The Matadors did have some opportunities in the second half as well. In the 68th minute, senior captain Tryna Tafoya took CSUN’s second shot on goal, one that was saved by Pellegrini. Tafoya got another shot off four minutes later, but it sailed wide. CSUN and Cal couldn’t break the tie in regulation, so they went into overtime.
In the extra period, it all ended quickly. Only six minutes went by before Oakes scored from six yards out off of a corner kick and gave the Bears the deserved win.
‘The ball was bouncing around the net,’ said Plascencia. ‘They just beat us to it. The first shot was saved and the rebound was put back in.’
It was the Matador’s second overtime game this season. They won their previous one 2-1 against San Diego State on double-overtime.
It was the first time in 2008 that the Matadors failed to score, as they put in at least two goals in each of their first four contests. Northridge also finished the contest with a season-low six shots.
‘We could have executed better on offense,’ said Plascencia. ‘We had a couple of chances right in front of the net but we didn’t finish. We’ll have to do better at that.’ CSUN also played its second game of the tournament Sunday against the host Saint Mary’s.
CSUN series of road games will continue Friday and Sunday as they will pay visits to Arizona State and Arizona respectively.