FULLERTON, Calif. -- Cal State Fullerton sophomore Ian Ramos netted his first career hat trick, scoring three times in the second half -- including the eventual game-winner in the 71st minute -- to lift the Titans to a 5-4 win over No. 14 Cal State Northridge on Wednesday night at Titan Stadium.
The victory gave Fullerton its first Big West Conference victory of the year, snapping a five-match winless streak and moving the Titans to 5-10-1 overall and 1-4-1 in league play. The Matadors, who entered the night with three-consecutive victories, fell to 10-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play.
"What a game and very important result," Head Coach Bob Ammann said. "Anytime you beat a ranked opponent, you've accomplished something, but when you do it in the fashion we did makes it very special.
"All the credit to the boys tonight. Down 3-1 at the half only to go down 4-1 in the first minute of the second half and still have the resiliency and desire to keep going shows what they are capable of. We talk about the importance of character all the time. Tonight is what character, desire and talent is capable of."
Fullerton trailed 4-1 after Northridge opened the second half with a goal in the first 26 seconds of the period by Brian Behrad (his second of the night), but that's when the Titans' offense ignited, scoring three times in a 10-minute span before netting the game-winner.
Ramos scored his first of the night off a looping cross from teammate Gerzon Blanco on the left side, one-timing a volley back across to the left to make it a two-goal contest in the 54th minute. He added his second just six minutes later, taking a short pass from Jesse Escalante and running through defenders before burying a shot to the left post to make it 4-3.
The score remained that way until a Fullerton player was taken down in the box, setting up Ramos' penalty kick attempt, which he roofed to the upper left corner with just under 19 minutes to play. The Titans then withstood the Northridge pressure, clearing every counter attempt and holding the Matadors to without a shot until the final 40 seconds when Armando Gutierrez sent an attempt high before time ran out.
Cal State Northridge struck quickly to take an early lead, scoring the first goal of the match just over a minute in when Beto Velasquez converted a sharp, low cross across the box, finishing from 6 yards out to the right post for the 1-0 lead and his seventh score of the season.
The Titans responded to tie the game in the 35th minute when a pair of blocked shots found their way out to Ramos inside the box on the right side. His attempt back to the left post was misdirected and kicked in by a Matador defender for an own goal that made it 1-1.
Northridge, unshaken, then responded with a flurry of its own, scoring twice in the final five minutes of the match to carry a 3-1 lead into the locker room at the break. Sagi Lev-Ari converted on a cross from Jose Luis Garcia to the left post to break the deadlock in the 41st minute and Behrad scored his first goal of the night four minutes later, punching home a rebound after David Turcios' initial shot was saved.
The Matadors held a 16-12 advantage in shots with both teams putting eight of their attempts on frame. Ramos finished with three shots on the night to pace the Titans while Edwin Rivas finished with a match-high five shots to lead all players.
"We will look to use this result as a springboard for the rest of the season and work on getting ready for what we expect as a very difficult game versus Riverside on Saturday," Ammann said.
Cal State Fullerton closes out the week on Saturday (Oct. 20) at 7 p.m. as the Titans travel to UC Riverside.
NOTES: Cal State Fullerton's five goals are a season high and the most since the Titans scored five times in a 5-1 win over UNLV on Sept. 3, 2011 at a tournament hosted by Cal State Northridge... Wednesday marked the sixth time in 16 matches that the Titans have scored multiple goals, but the first since a 2-1 overtime win against San Diego on Sept. 23... Fullerton had scored only five goals in its last six matches entering Wednesday night's contest... Wednesday's victory was only the Titans' third against the Matadors in their last 16 meetings... the win was the first against Northridge at Titan Stadium since 2009... 16 of Fullerton's 21 goals have come in the second half this season.