CSUN Women’s Soccer kicked off its spring training camp last week, hosting the Chinese National Team in a Feb. 2 exhibition match under the lights at Matador Soccer Field. The Matadors battled Team China for over 90 minutes of action on the pitch as the visitors prevailed, 6-1.
A season removed from advancing to the Big West Conference Championship game, the Matadors gained valuable soccer experience playing against the Chinese team ranked 16th in the world.
“I’m really proud of our young ladies,” said head coach Keith West. “We are in our second day of training camp, and we played this game. No complaints about the energy we gave tonight.
“The experience that China brings to our team is amazing. I told the team that ‘you better study this game all year long until the first game of the season in August.’ They taught us how to play at the international level. [China] could have played a lot of teams, and we were fortunate to play them. It means a lot. I don’t know how many times our squad is going to play a national team. It’s pretty cool. China is about Top 20 in the world.”
This friendly match is a continuation of CSUN’s longstanding relationship with China. CSUN was one of the first American universities to pursue educational and cultural exchanges with Chinese universities dating back to the university’s first foreign-student exchange agreement in 1981. Today, CSUN has agreements and letters of intent with nearly 50 universities in China.
CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison has paid two visits to China since her tenure began in 2012. During these visits – in 2013 and 2017, respectively – Harrison has met with counterparts at several Chinese universities, Matador alumni living in the region and local business leaders. This helps to raise CSUN’s profile internationally, and opens doors for future opportunities like this match.
CSUN remains a leader in educating international students. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked CSUN No. 1 nationally among master’s-level universities with 3,924 international students – a good number of those from China – enrolled during the 2015-16 academic year. These students have seen that CSUN is a catalyst for their educational and professional goals.
The Matadors’ leader in goals (seven) and points (16) last season, senior Marissa Favela put CSUN on the scoreboard in the opening minutes of the second half off a breakaway near midfield. Favela was one of six Matadors last season to earn All-Big West honors as she took home a Second Team nod.
“[Marissa’s] playing with a great mentality right now,” said West. “She’s all in. I love coaching those types of players that are all in and giving all that they got. We had a bunch of players [play well]. Amanda Martin, Lulu [Kutscher], Nico [Christina Nixon], Jen [Anderson] and Kirsten [Von Meter] had a great game. I was pleasantly surprised with our fitness level on the second day of camp for us.”
West completed his 12th season as the Matadors head coach in 2017. The program’s longest-tenured coach, West has guided the Matadors to three straight winning seasons along with seven trips to the Big West Conference Tournament over the last nine years. CSUN won its first Big West Conference Tournament title in 2012, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history that season. West also led the Matadors to the program’s first Big West regular-season title in 2016.