Northridge, Calif. – Tariq Branche picked a good time to net his first collegiate goal as the visiting Pacific men's soccer team topped host CSU Northridge 1-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night. The win brings the Tigers to 13-3-2 on the year while the loss drops the Matadors to 9-7-5, their first home loss of the season.
"Going on the road is never easy, especially on the west coast where every team is very good," said Pacific head coach Ryan Jorden. "We knew we were going to be playing a very good team that is hot and Northridge has had a very good run at the end. I'm pleased with how our team played throughout."
Off a corner in the 13th minute Andres Ochoa sent the ball into the box that was met by a Camden Riley header. The rebound ricocheted in the box and eventually came back to Riley by the right post who tried to tap it in the corner, but his shot sailed just wide. About eleven minutes later Julio Cervantes received the dish and took it towards goal. The defender pressed on Cervantes but the senior danced around him to find an open Riley, who rifled off a shot on target but it was saved by Matador goalie Kevin Marquez.
Shortly after the Tigers drew a foul resulting in a penalty kick. Cervantes lined up and sent a low shot towards the middle but the diving Marquez blocked it with his foot, denying the Pacific opportunity. The Tigers dominated the first half offensively as the visitors registered ten shots in the first 45 minutes of play compared to the Matadors' four.
In the 56th minute of action the Matadors saw themselves with a promising opportunity to get on the board when Juan Samayoa sent a bullet on target from roughly ten yards outside of the box. The ball looked to be going top shelf, but goalie Curtis Goldsmith made a great leaping save to punch the ball up and out, one of his two saves on the night. Going the other way with just over 22 minutes left in regulation the Orange and Black accumulated a series of passes that found Ochoa at the top of the box. The captain sent the ball in towards the near post that beat the diving 'keeper, but it just hit the post.
In the 77th minute the Tigers finally broke through the Northridge backline as Tyson Fox came streaking down the right side and sent a perfect dish to Branche across the box and the freshman sent it to the back of the net for his first collegiate goal. The defense did the rest for Pacific to preserve their first NCAA Tournament win in program history.
"We know Tariq [Branche] is goal-dangerous," continued Jorden. "It was a great opportunity for him to go in and do his thing. We're all really happy for him and it was fantastic to watch the guys celebrate with him."
The Tigers now head to Stanford as they continue their NCAA run this Sunday at 5 PM at Cagan Stadium.
For the latest on the Pacific Men's Soccer program, be sure to follow @PacificMSoccer on Twitter and @Pacific_Soccer on Instagram.