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Northridge women’s soccer team advances to Big West Tournament final

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The Cal State Northridge women’s soccer team is headed to the final match of the Big West Tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

Second-seeded Northridge (10-4-6, 6-1-2 Big West) will take on Cal State Fullerton, the tournament’s number one seed, at Anteater Stadium on the campus of UC Irvine today at 1 p.m. PT.

The Matadors defeated third-seeded Cal Poly 1-0 in the semifinals on Thursday - the first-ever win for Northridge in the postseason. The winning goal was scored by Melissa Fernandez in the 26th minute. Fernandez, who received Big West First Team honors last week, is the Matadors’ offensive leader with seven goals and five assists this season. Her 15 career assists are the second most in school history and she holds the record for most career shots with 153. Fernandez is tied for fourth in the conference for shots (26) and is third for points (12).

Northridge boasts a strong defense, anchored by senior Cynthia Jacobo, who won her second straight Big West Goalkeeper of the Year award last week. Jacobo has won three Big West Defensive Player of the Week awards this season and leads the conference in goals-against-average (0.35), shutouts (5), and save percentage (.914). She is fourth in the NCAA Division I for save percentages (0.906) and 9th in goals-against-average (0.511). Jacobo holds the school record for career victories (32) and has 26 career shutouts. She was also one of the 30 nominees for the Senior CLASS Award.

Junior Chloe McDaniel was named Big West Defensive Player of the Year and received First Team honors. McDaniel played every minute of every game at center back and scored two goals and had an assist this season.

Other Northridge players receiving conference honors include senior Stephanie Galarze for Second Team honors, while Honorable Mentions were earned by senior Katie Russ and freshman Taylor Hobson.

The Matadors are coached by 2009 Big West Conference Coach of the Year Keith West, who is now in his seventh season as the women’s head coach.

Fullerton advanced to the final after defeating UC Irvine in penalty kicks (3-0) following their 1-1 draw on Thursday. The Titans goalkeeper Katie Pulliam came off the bench after 110 minutes and saved all three shots.

Northridge and Fullerton (10-8-1, 7-2-0 Big West) played each other on Oct. 5, with the Titans getting the 1-0 win in overtime.

Today’s Big West women’s soccer championship match will be broadcasted live on FOX Sports Prime Ticket.