Emily Lieber (37) scored her first goal of the season against Hawaii within the first minute of the game. Credit: Owen Roberts

Emily Lieber usually is the one sending crosses over the middle to her teammates. But prior to Cal Poly Women’s Soccer matchup against Hawaii, she had an “itch” that her time to score was coming.

The sophomore forward has three assists on the season but no goals scored. However, Lieber found the back of the net 41 seconds into the game.

“I knew it was coming eventually, and to have it come at such a big game was really exciting,” Lieber said after the Mustangs’ 2-1 win over Hawaii, on Sunday, Oct. 29.

The Mustangs’ (9-7-3) win secures the team’s semifinal spot in the Big West Championship where the team will face the No. 2 seed in the Big West, UC Davis on Thursday, Nov. 2.

On top of Lieber’s score being her first of the season, it was also the fourth-fastest goal in Cal Poly Women’s Soccer history. 

Cal Poly continued an aggressive offensive attack the rest of the first half, with eleven shots compared to Hawaii’s two. 

The Mustangs’ aggression paid off as junior midfielder Peja Balanon scored her second goal of the season off an assist from redshirt freshman midfielder Sophia Minnite in the 38th minute to put the Mustangs up 2-0.

In the second half, Hawaii responded with a goal in the 66th minute.  

As the Rainbow Wahine attempted to equalize the game, tensions rose as both teams earned a total of four penalties, including a red card to Hawaii’s sophomore defender, Eve Bleam, during the last 81st minute. 

Junior goalkeeper Mackenzie Samuel would ensure Cal Poly’s win by saving the last shot attempt from the Rainbow Wahine. Samuel had three saves on the day. 

“We can be an underdog this year.”

After two seasons of winning the Big West regular season championship, the Mustangs come into the tournament as a three-seed. Credit: Owen Roberts.

The Mustangs’ loss to UC San Diego last week had dropped them to the No.3 seed in the Big West tournament and terminated their hope of winning their third consecutive Big West regular season championship. 

However, the Mustangs are in a new position they haven’t found themselves in before.

“We’re coming from underneath, so we can kind of be an underdog this year,” junior defender Emma Brown said. “I think that we are just going to come out really strong and just play well (for) the rest of the tournament.”

The Mustangs will take on No.2 seed UC Davis in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 4:30 p.m. at the Titan Stadium in Fullerton, CA. The winner of this game will determine who plays in the Big West Championships.