Lev-Ari Finds Home Halfway Around the World
At Matador Field the temperature reached 108 degrees during soccer practice. With the scorching sun beating down on the players, Sagi Lev-Ari was still in good spirits after practice.
Sagi Lev-Ari has become a force in the Big West in his first season with the Matadors.
"I like this weather. It’s like Israel so I’m use to it," said Lev-Ari, who comes from the city Haifa. It's a change from the weather he endured in New York a year ago.
"It was cold there. It was so hard for me to adjust; my toes were freezing," he said with a laugh.
Lev-Ari always dreamed of playing soccer and getting a degree. After leaving Israel he went to Monroe College in New York, where he had received an offer to come play for a good team. There he scored seven goals and the team reached the finals. When off the field, the shy Lev-Ari said he all he did was study. Then his opportunity at Northridge came.
The transition at CSUN has been smooth for him and he already considers his teammates and coaches his family.
"There are three Israelis here and my other teammates that have become my family," Lev-Ari said. "I'm happy that I am here and the coaches here have taken good care of me."
The Matadors forward is off to a strong start at CSUN in his first year. He has already been honored with Big West Conference Offensive Player Week and College Sports Madness named him Madness Big West Player of the Week.
CSUN assistant coach Yossi Raz, who also is from Israel, recruited Lev-Ari.
"We anticipated him to be a goal scorer and he is a different weapon we didn't have before," said Raz. "He still has things to improve on to make himself better, but with him working hard every day he will do well and so will the team."
For the Matadors, Lev-Ari has become an offensive threat as he led the Big West Conference this season with 12 goals and 24 points.
With CSUN having two Israeli players in midfielder Yarden Azulay and defender Yuval Barak, the decision to come play for the Matadors was an easy one for Lev-Ari.
"I am excited that I can recruit players from Israel that can help us,” Raz said. “Yarden and Yuval have shown their leadership in the locker room, and Sagi can see that and grow, too."
The business accounting major knows he needs to work hard at Northridge in order to succeed after he graduates. Not only is it a goal to receive his degree, but also to continue to play after CSUN.
"It was explained to me by my coaches about the importance of getting a degree. I want to be able to have that, but also hopefully play professional soccer."
Story and photo by Monique Muñiz.