For 84 minutes, the Cal State Northridge offense lay waiting for the right time to attack. Then 10 minutes later, the match was over. And it was the help of a pair of seniors that gave the Matador women's soccer team an overtime victory.
Leah Sims tied Friday's match with six minutes remaining in regulation and Melissa Cleal scored the game-winner less than five minutes into overtime to give the Matadors a 2-1 victory over UC Irvine at Anteater Stadium.
On a pass from junior Shannon DeVos, Cleal booted one past UC Irvine goalkeeper Chelsea McCarthy to give the Matadors their third win of the season, improving the team to 3-13-1 and 2-5-1 in the Big West Conference. The Anteaters fell to 7-10-1 and 4-3-1 in conference with the loss.
The Matadors were thoroughly outplayed in terms of shots in the first half, being outshot 13-2 in the first 45 minutes. But a strong Northridge defense, coupled by the goalkeeping of freshmen Jen Jasper and Karen Comstock kept the game scoreless through the first frame.
The Anteaters would break the scoreless tie at 65:19 of the match when Sara Henderson took a pass from Hayley McNallen and beat Comstock to give UC Irvine a 1-0 lead.
Northridge would be outshot 7-3 in the second half, but one of the three shots came off the foot of Sims. On assists from DeVos and freshman Leila Pate, Sims kicked one by McCarthy to tie the match at one.
The Matadors were outshot 20-5 in regulation, but had the only two shots in the extra period, as well as the only goal by Cleal. The score would place the senior into second all-time on the Matadors' goal charts with 11. Cleal, the all-time assist leader, is also second all-time in points with 40, trailing Erin Broadwell by four.
Jasper started in goal for the Matadors and made three saves while facing four shots in the first 26 minutes. Comstock would enter in the 27th minute and faced a barrage of 16 shots in her 69 minutes, but stopped all but one and made nine saves.
Sims had a team-high three shots (two on goal), while Cleal added two (one on goal). Pate and junior Cindy Mallett added a shot apiece.
The Matadors will close up their 2002 season on Sunday when they travel to Long Beach State at 1 p.m. It will be the final match for a quintet of Matador seniors, Sims, Cleal, Mary Alessi, Christa Sanchez and Brynne Blumstein.