For the third time in as many years, Seattle Pacific invaded the home turf of the Cal State Northridge soccer team for a playoff meeting that twice had proved to be a fatal attraction for the Matadors.
But Friday night in the NCAA Division II Western regional final, a new character gave the plot a twist. CSUN forward Juan Florez, limited to a supporting role most of the season, faked out All-American goalie Jeff Storrs for the score that gave CSUN a 1-0 win before a record crowd of 3,841 at North Campus Stadium.
The No. 1-ranked Matadors (18-1-1) advanced to the Final Four, Dec. 4-6 at a site to be determined.
The win took on extra meaning because Seattle Pacific was two-time defending national champion.
"This is the best win in the history of CSUN soccer," said Coach Marwan Ass'ad, whose team avenged last season's 2-1 loss to the Falcons and a 3-2 defeat in 1985. "I hope there are two more best wins coming up."
Florez scored at the 26:47 mark of the first half. The junior forward from Colombia took a pass from Alex Herrera 18 yards in front of the goal, beat two defenders and went one-on-one with Storrs.
"I faked to the far post, went to the inside and he ate it," said Florez, who has scored 10 goals this season. "He ate all of it."
The goal not only put CSUN ahead, it also made history. It was the first time since the teams began meeting annually in the playoffs that CSUN had held a lead against the Falcons. It was also the first time this season that Seattle Pacific was behind in a game at halftime.
"When we scored first, that was it," Ass'ad said. "They were playing with five defenders. The only way they were going to score was on a mistake. And there was no way that was going to happen after what happened the last two years."
Joey Kirk, CSUN's high-scoring forward, was double-teamed by Seattle Pacific defenders most of the night. He also was neutralized by leg cramps.
"They never really let us get in our rhythm," said Kirk, whose pass to Herrera helped set up the goal. "I didn't think anyone could do that to us."
The Matadors outshot Seattle Pacific, 18-6, and shut down senior forwards Mark Faller and Danny Machado. When the Falcons did take a shot, it was either high, wide or saved by CSUN goalie Willie Lopez, who recorded his fourth shutout.
"You can see that Northridge has been playing together a long time," said Seattle Pacific Coach Cliff McCrath, whose fifth-ranked team finished 18-2-4. "They need to get a blood sample because I think they're all related."