One year ago, the Cal State Northridge men’s soccer team had its championship run end in New Mexico in a 1-0 loss to the Lobos. This year, the Matadors failed to qualify for the tournament altogether, yet something else seems just as unsettling. Four teams remain in the championship run and CSUN is more than qualified to be named on the same list as these four remaining teams.
The Semifinals, which will be held on Dec. 1 in Robert Hermann Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., will feature Virginia, Wake Forest and two teams the Matadors are familiar with, the UCLA Bruins and the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.
The then-No. 19 Matadors opened up their 2006 season on the road with a match against the No. 5 Bruins that resulted in a 1-1 tie on Aug. 26. The game featured two early goals, with CSUN striking first in the ninth minute off a goal by Sunghyun Kim. UCLA answered back in the 26th minute to even the score as the rest of the game was a defensive struggle. The Matadors walked away with an even score, something they saw a lot of in the rest of their season.
One month later, Big West Conference rival UC Santa Barbara had taken the No. 19 ranking and headed to Matador Soccer Field to take on the Matadors. The Gauchos were not welcomed lightly in Northridge as they were defeated 5-0 by CSUN, dropping them out of the top 25 for the time being. The game featured 39 fouls in one of the most physical games of the season for Northridge. In all, 12 yellow cards and four red cards were handed out, with many of the red cards going to UC Santa Barbara.
On Oct. 25, the Gauchos avenged their loss, though not to the same extent, as they defeated the Matadors 1-0. UC Santa Barbara went on to win the Big West Conference as well as earn an automatic seeding into the College Cup, the only seeding awarded to a Big West team.
The Gauchos managed to get by San Diego St. and No. 3 Southern Methodist University. Now the Gauchos are set to take on Wake Forest while the Bruins will face Virginia to determine who will play in the National Championship on Dec. 3.
However, Wake Forest too reached its way to the final four by defeating a team CSUN played this season. One of the matches in the quarterfinals featured Wake Forest taking on Santa Clara. Wake Forest defeated Santa Clara by a score of 3-1, advancing them to the quarterfinals to take on UC Santa Barbara.
Santa Clara fell victim to the Matadors on Aug. 17, when CSUN defeated them 4-1 in a regular season match at Matador Soccer Field.
The Matadors have proven to be just as good as the remaining teams and but will not have the opportunity to prove it. CSUN is left wondering “what if.”