'D' is key to Cal State Northridge, Joe Franco

The following are updates on local athletes at the collegiate level.

Joe Franco (St. Francis High, 2008) redshirt senior, Cal State Northridge men's soccer: The Matadors only have Franco for the remainder of this season and it certainly appears they're going to miss him. He has three points on offense this season with a goal and an assist, but his impact is really felt on defense.

The former Golden Knight has played in and started all 13 games this season, proving key for a lockdown defense that has logged seven shutouts. Northridge's defense has been incredibly dominant of late, allowing two goals over the last 732 minutes of play with a 0.69 goals against average that ranks 18th in the nation.

The Matadors are 7-1 in their last eight games with six of those victories coming in shutouts, and the one loss to Sacramento State, 1-0, on Sept. 30 coming in double overtime. Northridge most recently posted a 1-0 win over Santa Barbara on Oct. 7, where the Matadors defense made a goal in the 31st minute stand up for the win, as the No. 4-ranked Gauchos managed just four shots on goal.

"I thought we did very well all around," Northridge Coach Terry Davila said after the game. "We defended as a group and didn't allow plays behind us. We have a great back line and goalkeeper and our defenders are making it difficult on the opponents."

Franco provided some offense in Northridge's opener when scored in a 4-0 win over Portland University in the Wilson Titan Classic. It was his second career goal and first since 2009.

Northridge won its second match of the season over American, 2-1, but lost its next three. Since then, the Matadors have gone 7-1 and 3-1 in the Big West Conference. They continued conference play at home Saturday night against UC Riverside.

Camille Coffey (Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, 2011) sophomore, Fairfield University women's volleyball: It was a day of career and season highs for Coffey Saturday, but the outside hitter and the rest of the Stags were still dropped by Canisius College in five, 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-15, 17-15, on the road in what was a battle for first place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

It ended Fairfield's five-match winning streak, despite Coffey posting her fourth double-double of the year with a career-high 23 digs, season-high 14 kills and three blocks to tie her season best. Still, the Stags (12-8, 7-3 in conference) saw the match slip way, even after they took the first two sets.

For the season Coffey has 191 digs, 142 kills, 19 blocks, 12 assists and seven aces. Her kills per set (2.49) are the third-best on the team, while her 3.35 average digs a set are second best.

Eric Verso (St. Francis High, 2011) sophomore Stanford University men's soccer: The former Knight has yet to make a start this season, but he's been a key part for the Cardinal off the bench. He's appeared in eight of 11 games and posted a goal in the process.

Verso managed to score the first goal of his career at Stanford on Sept. 30 in a 2-0 PAC-12 win over San Diego State. It came off a corner kick as Verso played it in to Austin Meyer, who held the ball while Verso circled around him to a good place to take a shot. Verso took a pass and then a crack to the low far post and watched it go in for the goal in the 41st minute for a 1-0 lead.

The performance earned Verso a nomination for the Stanford Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week of Sept. 24-30.

The Cardinal played Oregon State to a 2-2 tie Friday night and while Verso didn't notch an assist, he did have a hand in a goal off the bench. The sophomore played a through ball out to Stanford's Adam Jahn, who continued down the field for a goal — his second on the night.

The tie brings Stanford's record to 5-5-1, 2-1-1 in conference this season. The Cardinal are back in action today at noon, as they travel to Washington to take on the Huskies.

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