Matador Duo Find Their Way In Net
It may be the start of the Big West Conference Tournament play for soccer, but for two net minders it's the closing of their careers at Cal State Northridge.
Cynthia Jacobo and Michael Abalos are the two goal keepers for the Matador soccer teams. What people may not know about this pair is they have started all four seasons at CSUN.
They are highly respected among their teammates, coaches and as well as each other.
"We don't discuss it much, about being four year starters, but we congratulate each other after games and go to each other's games for support." Jacobo said.
"We both respect each other enormously... she's a stud in games." added Abalos.
Both have had a memorable experience at Northridge, which couldn't have happened with the help of their coaches and teammates.
Starting at CSUN, Mike was quiet and kept to himself, but being away from home and in college helped him grow.
"I'm not from the Valley, but I've come to love it as a second home. I've made tons of friends here and definitely have broken out of my shell."
Mike has already been named Defensive Player of the Week and was named to the Preseason All-Conference Team by the conference coaches.
"In terms of confidence it's cool and it's nice to get the respect I receive from the younger guys, I am a role model now." he said.
While he might want to keep playing soccer, Mike is also looking forward to whatever possibilities he may have after graduation. His work ethic in the net though has other coaches believing he can make it to the pros.
"Mike is a big time goalkeeper, he is similar to Cynthia in that he gives his team great energy," said women's assistant coach Juan Plascencia. "He is a quality person and player. He has put himself in a position where I can see him playing at the next level."
Jacobo, like Abalos, had a good start to her season. She was named Big West Player of the Week three times and was also one of the 30 candidates for the Senior Class Award.
"Cynthia is a solid goaltender and really engaged in all the plays and an excellent shot blocker on one-on-ones," said men's head coach Terry Davila. "She has a lot of confidence, it is nice to watch her play. She is a very good women's soccer player."
While growing up Jacobo played all the sports she could, but it was soccer that she fell in love with. At Northridge she learned to keep focused and stick to her goals.
Both agree the time they have spent here has not only helped them grow, but balancing their priorities. As students athletes Mike and Cynthia learned that hard work is not only a goal on the field, but in the classroom.
As the season and the final year for these two comes to a close they both are happy with the experience they had as Matadors.
"It's sad, but I'm looking forward to the possibilities out in the real world. The experience here at CSUN was awesome and I wouldn't change a thing." Abalos said.
Jacobo added. "Can I get another year? That's what I want, just to be able to play. It is just going to be sad saying good-bye at the last game.
"It's sad to see my years go by so quickly it feels like only yesterday I played my first game here and now I'm graduating."
-Story and photos by Monique Muñiz.