The Mustangs fall to No. 23 Gonzaga 4-0 in their 2023 home opener. Credit: Kayla Stuart

In their first home game of the year, Cal Poly Women’s Soccer lost 4-1 to No. 23 Gonzaga University Bulldogs on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Mustang Memorial Field for ALS Awareness Day.

The Mustangs are without sophomore forward and midfielder Jessie Halladay due to a groin injury. The sophomore transfer from LMU has two goals scored in four shots on target across three non-conference games.

According to the ESPN broadcast, head coach Alex Crozier hopes she is back for the first league game of the year against UCSB on Sept. 14.

The Mustangs (1-3-1) couldn’t find their rhythm against the Bulldogs (6-1), who jumped out to a fast start.

Within the second minute, the Bulldogs scored a goal from 30 yards out. 

Seven minutes later, junior goalkeeper Mackenzie Samuel came away from the goal to clear a ball from the Bulldogs. However, Samuel’s attempt to dispose of the ball ended up at the feet of Bulldogs’ sophomore forward Giana Riley, who shot the ball into an empty net for a goal.

The Mustangs tried to build an attack starting in the backfield, but they continuously struggled to get the ball to their midfielders. The Bulldogs gave the Mustangs very few opportunities with their aggressive style of play.

Crozier attempted to change the game’s pace by subbing out multiple players, but the Mustangs had trouble dealing with the Bulldogs’ pressure.

At halftime, the Bulldogs were leading 2-0 and had all the momentum heading into the second half.

In the 51st minute, Riley, who had scored on all of her shots on goal, received a through ball from her teammate. Riley took the ball down the flank and expertly placed it around Samuel to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.

Again, in the 75th minute, a Bulldog crossed a ball in the 18-yard box.  The ball ended up at the feet of junior forward Paige Alexander.  Alexander placed the ball in the back of the net for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs were up 4-0, and it appeared there was not going to be much positive from this game by the Mustangs.

Eventually, in the 86th minute, the Mustangs scored, ending the game on a high note.  Off a corner kick, sophomore forward Caylie Button finished off the play for a score to put the Mustangs on the board and prevent a shutout.

The Bulldogs put up 15 shots compared to the Mustangs’ 12. Although the teams had a similar amount of shots on goal (five for the Bulldogs and four for the Mustangs), Cal Poly couldn’t convert on their chances.

The Mustangs’ next match is on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 12 p.m. against No.8 Santa Clara, the 2020 NCAA National Champions, at Mustang Memorial Field.