The Matador Men’s soccer team got off to a great start winning their first two games of the regular season, defeating Dartmouth 3-0 on Labor Day. Two days prior, CSUN roughed up Oakland University by a score of 4-0. Both games were part of the Second Annual Matador Soccer Invitational. The Matadors finished the weekend with the best record of the four teams that participated in the tournament.
Matador striker Willie Sims was named tournament Most Valuable Player scoring three goals and two assists. Sims also received Big West player of the week honors for leading the Matadors to a season-opening win over Oakland.
“Willie (Sims) is the type of player that if things are not going well he can make things go well, but he still has to play with the team and be a facilitator, not always the man who will finish the play,” said Matador head coach Terry Davila.
In the minute 73 against Dartmouth, Sims sent a brilliant cross from deep in the corner to mid-fielder Michael Gordon who jumped high above the defenders, getting his head to the ball, and knocking it past the goalkeeper to take the win with a final score of 3-0.
“We played a very good team in Cal State Northridge,” said Dartmouth head coach Jeff Cook. “We started the game really well – the first 15 to 20 minutes until they got their (first) goal – then they found their rhythm and really gave us some problems.”
The Matadors opened up the scoring in minute 23 thanks to the magical footwork of Sims who eluded the defender, striking the ball in the open half of the net.
“It’s was a perfect cross and the defender thought I wasn’t going to get to it and I barely got a poke on it. He (the defender) just got stuck, I took a good look up and I shot low to the ground cause it was a tall keeper,” said Sims on his third goal of the season.
The Matadors second goal in the minute 64 came off of the boot of Ronny Shields, who fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net near the left post. The opportunity came shortly after shields collected a loose ball on a Matador free-kick. The free-kick was issued as Sims battled for the ball and was fouled by a Dartmouth defender.
The Matadors did not give up a goal all weekend, allowing only 16 shots combined for both games in the tournament.
“The four guys in front of me are as responsible for my shutout as the whole team – they came up big time for me,” said Matador starting goalkeeper Kevin Guppy who recorded 177 scoreless minutes for the Matadors. “I did not have to make any hard saves because my back line was real solid and they stepped up on anything that came at them.”
The Matadors first game of the tournament was Saturday afternoon against Oakland University who traveled from Rochester, Michigan to participate.
The match began as both sides were only able to get off a combined 13 shots before the Matadors showed some of their firepower by taking 19 in the second half.
The Matadors unleashed an onslaught of scoring in the second half starting in minute 64 when the keeper fell to the ground and Matador mid fielder Daniel Paladini tapped the ball into the net.
“Coach (Yossi) Raz told me to get in the box every time we get a cross in,” said Paladini “Sims was on the outside, he put it in, it deflected off of the defender and I finished it.”
The Matadors wasted no time, scoring their second goal 23 seconds later in minute 64 off the foot of Willie Sims. Only a minute later Oakland began to unravel as they were issued a red card that left them down a man. The Matadors capitalized on the short-handed Grizzles scoring another goal, Sims third in the minute 66 of action.
“I thought Northridge did a very good job once they scored the first goal, they raised the level of their game,” said Gary Parsons, head coach of Oakland University. “We slacked off giving up two more quick goals, and that was the end of it.”
Sims, who led the team in scoring last season, recorded his first goal after recovering a loose ball and beating the Oakland keeper one-on-one.
“They gave me a lot of space so once I turned them anything can happen,” said Sims regarding his goal.
The Matadors finished their scoring with a goal from Ferguson Agwu in minute 88.
“Our soccer program is one of our athletic teams that bring a lot of pride to the University,” said Janet Lucas, interim CSUN athletic Director, as she watched the team take on Oakland. “Not only have they developed tremendously under Coach Davila they continue to get better every year.
Malik Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org