Freshman defender Parker Owens clears a ball in the Mustangs 5-0 win over the No. 1 team in the Big West, CSU Fullerton on Sunday, Oct. 22. Credit: Alice Sukhostavskiy

Before the start of the season, Oige Kennedy stated one of the goals for the season was to make sure in the last game of the season, the Mustangs would be playing for something.

Cal Poly Men’s Soccer has put themselves in that exact scenario after defeating the No. 1 seed in the Big West, CSU Fullerton in a 5-0 one-sided win.

Now, the Mustangs head into the regular season finale against CSU Bakersfield playing for their playoff hopes after ending their two-game losing streak.

 f the Mustangs win or draw against the Roadrunners, they will stay as the sixth seed heading into the conference tournament. However, if they lose to Bakersfield, the Roadrunners will jump ahead of the Mustangs in the standings and into the postseason tournament.

The Mustangs have had trouble finishing off scores throughout this year, but the team showed improvement by scoring five goals.

The last time the Mustangs (5-7-3, 3-3-2) sunk five shots in a game was Oct. 4, 2013 against UC Riverside. The Titans (11-4-3, 5-2-1) still remain atop the conference with one game to play, and the Mustangs could find themselves in a rematch with them in the tournament.

The first goal came in the 22nd minute when junior forward Jackson Kestler’s shot was rebounded towards freshman midfielder Rylan Firouznam, who put the ball on target to net the opener.

The 28th minute saw the Titans drive down to the Mustang box, but a pair of blocks by the defense kept them at bay. 

Mustangs again found the net when freshman midfielder Diego Guerra nailed a shot at the top of the box off a pass from Firouznam to double the advantage early in the 32nd minute.

Kennedy described the offensive performance as “clinical” after the game. 

Sophomore forward Luke Schaefer (23) assisted on one of the Mustangs’ five goals in the team’s 5-0 win over CSU Fullerton on Monday, Oct. 23.

It wouldn’t take long for the Mustangs to cause havoc in the Fullerton box again, less than one minute had elapsed before Fullerton got caught with a handball.

Graduate defender Emory Rapaport stepped up to the penalty kick spot and slotted it away to make it a 3-0 lead.

It didn’t stop after halftime either. After taking the opening kickoff to the second half, sophomore forward Luke Schaefer found fellow sophomore forward Oren Stuppel just outside the six-yard box who slotted it home to extend the lead even further.

Within the minute again Cal Poly was on the attack, but Schaefer’s own shot went wide.

Redshirt freshman midfielder Jackson Miller was the benefactor of a 60th-minute cross from sophomore winger Sean McTague, putting home the diving header to extend the lead to 5-0.

The Mustangs kept up their signature pressure on the Titans, but with a five-goal lead, the Mustangs were content to pass the ball around as the final whistle blew.

“We were disappointed in the performance against Irvine,” Kennedy said. “I’m proud of the guys to come out and compete against a really good team.”

Cal Poly ended the match with 19 fouls, tied for their second-highest total of any game this season.

“We always talk about if we want more opportunity, we have to take the opportunity in front of us,” Coach Kennedy said. 

The final match to determine the Mustangs’ postseason birth will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 at Bakersfield at 7 p.m.