There is only one word to describe Cal Poly Men’s Soccer’s last home match of the season against UC Irvine: heartbreak.
The Mustangs (5-8-2, 1-4-1 Big West) took on the conference-leading Anteaters (11-4-2, 5-0-1 Big West) in Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Sunday night, losing 3-2 on a controversial goal with two seconds remaining in the final overtime period.
Replay footage shows a handball occurring as Anteaters midfielder Ivan Canales scored the winning goal in the waning seconds of the match, preventing what would have been a tie.
“It is what it is, [the referee] didn’t call it,” senior goalkeeper Simon Boehme said. “It’s unfortunate. We fought that hard to get back.”
“It’s unfortunate. We fought that hard to get back.”
The Mustangs’ fight back began in the 30th minute, when Canales scored the first goal of the match on a tap-in, putting the Anteaters up 1-0. A header from sophomore forward Jacob Lindberg went above the crossbar in the 41st minute, preventing the Mustangs from tying the match before the end of the first half.
At the start of the second half, the Anteaters were awarded a penalty kick after a foul inside the box in the 46th minute. Boehme sent the ball flying over the crossbar for one of his eighth saves in his last match at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Four minutes later, Boehme was unable to stop Anteaters midfielder Alvaro Quezada’s shot from 12 yards out, as Quezada slotted the ball into the net near the left post and gave UC Irvine a 2-0 lead.
However, in the span of 44 seconds, the tables turned thanks to a penalty kick awarded to the Mustangs in the 78th minute. Senior forward Sean Goode converted the penalty kick to put the Mustangs within one point of tying. Just 44 seconds later, Goode beat the Anteaters goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation to tie the match at 2-2 in the 79th minute.
With two goals scored in rapid succession, Goode relied on the fast change of events to capitalize on both scoring opportunities to put the Mustangs back in the match.
“Just get the first [goal], [and] the second one will probably come,” Goode said. “[The] momentum of the game usually decides those types of factors in the second half.”
Tensions rose in the 82nd minute, when the referees called a back-pass against UC Irvine, giving Cal Poly a free kick from inside the goal area. Freshman defender Brecc Evans was unable to take advantage of the close-range free kick against a wall of Anteaters.
With the Mustangs unable to convert another free kick from five yards out near the end of regulation, the match went into overtime. Senior defender Nick Carroll made two shots within the first minutes of overtime that were blocked by Anteater defenders. Redshirt junior forward George Grote came close to scoring with a shot in the 106th minute that was saved by the UC Irvine goalkeeper.
The Mustangs will end their season against UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Santa Barbara at 5 p.m in the away installment of the Blue-Green Rivalry. While Cal Poly remains in last place in Big West Conference standings with one match remaining, head coach Steve Sampson hopes to cap off this season with a win against the Gauchos in Harder Stadium.
“These guys are pros … they’re gonna wanna play and play to win. No doubt.”
“We would have loved to have won this game and for there to be meaning for the game, [and] getting into the playoffs,” Sampson said. “But that’s going to take anything away from the rivalry and how much we’re going to work hard this week to prepare ourselves. These guys are pros … they’re gonna wanna play and play to win. No doubt.”