Behind Julio Rubio’s goal in the 11th minute CSUN defeated UC Riverside 1-0 in Big West Conference men’s soccer action Wednesday night.
Rubio’s first goal of the season came after UC Riverside was called for a foul and a yellow card to the Highlanders’ Otta Magnusson. The left-footed Rubio sent the direct kick in from just outside the 18-yard mark for his first tally of the 2017 campaign.
“Our early set piece helped us get on top early,” said CSUN associate head coach Zach Feldman.” “We came in today and tried to push the attack and it resulted in getting fouled in a good area.”
UC Riverside had a chance to tie the match in the 33rd minute. The Highlanders’ Eduardo Sanchez took an attempt from 10 yards out that was saved by Matadors’ goalie Henrik Regitnig. The rebound came out in front to Emilo Huerta. Huerta’s attempt from five yards out was again turned away by Regitnig. The final UC Riverside attempt of the opening stanza came with four seconds remaining where Edward Benito worked his way inside the CSUN defense for a shot from just inside the 18 that Regitnig saved.
“There were a couple of slips in the back, but you have to give credit to UCR,” Feldman said. “The (forwards up top) are very dynamic and came inside and created some chances. Henrik came up big time for us.”
The Matadors outshot the Highlanders 5-4 in the second half, but UC Riverside nearly tied again with 1:12 to go. Daniel Aguirre’s shot was high as it went off of a CSUN defender, resulting in a corner kick. Ruiz’s corner found its way to James Alewine III who went wide as time ran out.
Regitnig turned his fourth clean sheet of the season. He made a total of three saves on the night. His UCR counterpart, Vincent Morales, recorded four saves to bring his league leading total to 66 for the season.
With the victory, CSUN (8-6-2, 3-2-2 Big West) took sole possession of first place in the South Division of the Big West Conference. The Matadors have 11 points, leading Cal State Fullerton (8-6-2, 3-3-1 Big West) who has 10. The Titans defeated UC Irvine (7-6-3, 2-3-2 Big West) 3-1 Wednesday night.
UCI is in third with eight points, followed by UC Riverside (2-12, 2-5) who has six points. The top three in each division of the Big West advance to the conference tournament, however, the winner of each division gets a first round bye.
“We are taking one game at a time,” Feldman said. “Saturday is going to be a tough one. Irvine is one of the best teams in our league and they are going to be hungry playing us at home.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s CSUN match at UC Irvine is set for 7:00 p.m.