If you can’t beat them, tie them.
That motto seemed to be the attitude of the Cal State Northridge men’s soccer team Saturday night against #22 UCSB when CSUN fought for a 0-0 double-overtime stalemate at Matador Soccer Field.
“Northridge is a good team, but they were playing for a tie,” senior striker Rob Friend said. “We controlled most of the game, but they dropped a lot of guys back and they did a good job.”
Sophomore Gaucho goalkeeper Danny Kennedy kept the Matadors from finding the back of the net, making a career-high eight saves on 14 shots. Northridge goalkeeper Joe Barton remained equally stingy with nine saves before his ejection for slide tackling a streaking Friend in the 82nd minute. Friend was all alone with Barton and put the ball past him, forcing the goalie to take out Friend. Had Barton not fouled, Friend most likely would have scored to give UCSB (10-1-1, 2-0-1 in the Big West) the lead and the eventual win.
“It was a one on one, and I probably would have scored or at least spotted someone up,” Friend said.
“In those kind of games, you know that one goal is gonna do the trick,” UCSB Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said.
The Gauchos proposed 22 shots in the match, yet only two and one shots careened off the feet of tandem threats Friend and sophomore forward Drew McAthy, respectively. Throughout the course of the game, junior midfielder Memo Arzate, Friend and McAthy were fouled consistently, throwing the three Gaucho playmakers out of rhythm.
Sporting the nation’s 13th ranked defense and an impressive 7-3-2 record and 0-1-1 in conference, Northridge refused to budge in a game that demanded sturdiness. The teams committed 46 fouls, four yellow cards and one red card.
The Matadors became just the second team to shut out the nation’s top ranked offense this season, the first coming at the hands of #7 Loyola Marymount.
“We definitely had the upper hand on them, but a tie on the road against Cal State Northridge isn’t necessarily that bad,” Kennedy said. “We pounded and pounded them, but we just couldn’t put it in.”
Playing one man down and shooting for a tie, Northridge often had ten players in the box in overtime and were surprisingly elated to escape without a loss, considering their winless Big West record. The Gauchos were not as content with the draw.
“We were disappointed, but when you play on the road, the key is coming out with something,” Vom Steeg said. “To come out with a tie is a good result.”
UCSB couldn’t complete scoring opportunities, earning 12 corner kicks and constantly pressuring the relentless Matador defense. Arzate, the main instigator for UCSB, offered six failed shots.
The Gauchos look ahead to the matchup at Cal Poly on Friday and against storied #4 Indiana at Fullerton on Sunday. The Mustangs hope to improve on a 3-9 overall record and 1-2 Big West standing.