Cal Poly Men's Soccer secures their first win of the season against Air Force Academy 2-1 on Sunday, Sept. 17 Credit: Kayla Stuart

Cal Poly Men’s Soccer won their first game of the season 2-1 against the Air Force Academy Falcons on Sunday, Sept. 17 at Mustang Memorial Field

The Mustangs (1-3-1) played after the conclusion of the women’s soccer match, who defeated the University of Pacific earlier that day.

The Mustangs had the first score of the game with a goal in the 18th minute by junior forward Jackson Kestler.  From about 45 yards out, junior midfielder Nate Colley serviced the ball over the top of the defenders, where Kestler finished the score with one touch.

The game was not without its fouls with the Mustangs committing nine and the Falcons five in the first half.

In the 35th minute, freshman midfielder Diego Guerra received a yellow card after going up for a header, but he went over the top of a Falcons player.  The Falcons’ player came off the field bleeding on the face.

About seven minutes later, in the 42nd minute, sophomore forward Luke Schaefer scored from the top of the 18-yard line, assisted by junior forward Ashton Alonge.

Only a few minutes later, in the final minute of the half, freshman midfielder Benji Jimenez received a yellow card after a foul was called, and he kicked the ball away from the Falcons’ players.

The best chance for the Falcons in the first half came from the free kick when graduate student goalkeeper Justin Siegel came out for the ball but couldn’t secure it. 

The ball was loose around the goal, but the Mustangs cleared the ball before the Falcons could get in the back of the net with the keeper out.

Even though the Mustangs were up 2-0 at the half, the match was evenly played.  71% of the first half was played in the central area of the field.

In the second half of the game, the chippiness did not stop.

Five minutes into the second half, redshirt freshman defender Joaquin Torres ran by the Falcons player throwing in the ball and swatted it out of their hands.

The Falcons changed out their goalkeeper at the half, and the new keeper made a critical error by picking up the ball outside of the box, leading to him receiving a yellow card in the 64th minute.

The Mustangs could not capitalize on the free kick as a result of the penalty.

A few minutes later, Falcons senior midfielder Luke Hill received a yellow card for persistent infringement.

In the 75th minute, freshman midfielder Rylan Firouznam had a handball in the box of the Mustangs, leading to a penalty kick for the Falcons. Air Force senior midfielder Remi Smith put the ball away for the Falcons, ending the chance at a shutout for the Mustangs.

“I think after something unfortunate like that happens, it’s just the next play,” Graduate defender Emory Rappaport said. “We’re really trying to keep it clean and simple.”

That mentality worked for the Mustangs since they had no more yellow cards nor conceded another goal.

Throughout the game, 40% of Falcons’ shots were on target but none found the back of the goal.  For the Mustangs, 18% of their shots were on target, and all were goals.  Kestler led the Mustangs in shots with three.

This was first-year head coach Oige Kennedy‘s first win with the Mustangs. 

“I think we’ve kind of played well in games, and we’ve been close in games,” Kennedy said. “We finally got it over the line today.  So we’re super excited about that, and the guys have been working really hard.  So it’s great for them to get the result.”

The next game for the Mustangs is on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. in Spokane, Washington, against Gonzaga University.