With temperatures surpassing triple digits, the anticipation leading up to the CSUN men’s soccer team home opener weekend was just as hot as the action on the field.
First up was the Sept. 12 matchup against New Mexico, which came into the game ranked eighth in the country, while the Matadors entered the season ranked 24th. The student body got things started: Two hours prior to game time, students gathered at the dorms for a march to the Matador Fan Fair, where there were plenty of activities to get everyone hyped before the game.
Once inside the near-capacity stadium, students, alumni and Matador fans — many with faces painted red and black — raised the decibel level with drums, thundersticks, horns, bells and other noisemakers. The atmosphere seen at so many raucous college sporting events was very evident at CSUN.
“We love soccer! We love all CSUN sports!” said Taylor Glover, a member of the CSUN softball team who was named All-Big West earlier this year. “The school spirit is awesome tonight and I love seeing students other than student-athletes out here supporting.”
The action on the field was tight, with two of the best teams in the nation squaring off. The Lobos pressed the action early, firing several shots on goal before breaking through in the 19th minute when New Mexico’s Chris Wehan shot the ball into the top-right corner of the goal.
The Matadors regrouped at halftime, while the pro-CSUN crowd brought the noise. There was plenty to shout about, as Edwin Rivas headed in a shot on goal during the 51st minute — ultimately saved by the New Mexico goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, All-American Sagi Lev-Ari took a cross from the right side and headed the ball, but it sailed just over the goal. Those proved to be the Matadors’ best scoring opportunities, as New Mexico held the lead in spite of the scorching atmosphere, registering a 1-0 victory.
Two days later, on Sept. 14, with the temperature still over 100 degrees, CSUN and Bradley University battled the conditions and one another. It would be a long afternoon, and the match would last into the evening as the teams fought to a scoreless tie through regulation and the first overtime period. The referees gave additional breaks for the players to receive water and medical attention, if necessary.
Lev-Ari sent home the Matador faithful happy when he got a pass from David Turcios on the left side and sent it into the net, ending the game on a golden goal.
“They had a great goalkeeper today. He faced 27 shots and made all his saves, but just came up unlucky on one,” Lev-Ari said. “Our whole team worked hard all day, and I’m happy we scored that golden goal.”
The CSUN men’s soccer team made it a memorable first weekend at home, with more great competition ahead. Visit www.gomatadors.com/gameday for more information on CSUN sports schedules.
Special thanks to Octavio Cortes for contributing to this story.