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UNIVERSITY BEAT

A Soccer Rebirth at Northridge

November 21, 2003|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Terry Davila started every match in his four-year playing career and helped the Cal State Northridge soccer team reach the Division II finals in 1988. Now in his fifth year as coach, Davila has the Matadors making an impact in Division I.

Northridge won its first Big West Conference championship with a 2-0 victory Saturday at Cal State Fullerton. As their reward, the Matadors were the last of 16 national seeds that earned first-round byes in the 48-team NCAA tournament that begins tonight.

Northridge (14-3-2) plays either Central Florida or Florida International on Wednesday at a site to be determined. The school did not bid to host because its campus field holds only 700 spectators.

"One of our goals was to win the Big West championship," said Davila, named Big West coach of the year. "It's been a process and we've worked very hard for this."

Davila called the win over Fullerton his team's biggest of the season after playing a man down for 85 minutes because of a red card. But the Matadors' landmark victory may have come Nov. 5 when they defeated Big West power UC Santa Barbara for the first time since 2001.

There is a strong Reseda High connection within the Matadors. Davila coached senior defender Edwin Miranda and redshirt freshman Willie Sims in high school before landing the Northridge job.

Sims was chosen the Big West's co-offensive player of the year with 11 goals and a conference-leading 30 points. Miranda was selected the Big West's top defender for the second consecutive season.

"Willie has pro potential," Davila said. "Right now, he's learning how to play with his teammates. With some of the great athletes, the key question is are you able to raise the level of the players around you."

Of Miranda, he said, "He's a special, special player."

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UCLA hasn't defeated the USC women's volleyball team since the 2000 season. And the Bruins aren't alone. Top-ranked USC (26-0) has won 38 matches in a row and is looking to become the first Pacific 10 Conference team in six years to go undefeated in league play.

So what are the Bruins (21-6, 12-5) to do?

"It's a real challenge to beat them because they're good at every position," said UCLA Coach Andy Banachowski, whose team extended the Trojans to four games Sept. 19. "They can do so many different things at each rotation that you can't predict or stack up against them very well."

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UCLA senior Valerie Flores placed fourth overall in the NCAA West Regional cross-country meet last weekend in Portland. Flores completed the six-kilometer course in 20 minutes, 40 seconds; Stanford's Alicia Craig ran 20:06 to win for the second consecutive year.

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The UCLA softball team and USC women's golf team were honored Monday at the White House for their NCAA championships last spring.

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