The Cal Poly women’s soccer team’s regular season came to an end Sunday afternoon at Alex G. Spanos Stadium with a 3-2 loss to Long Beach State, but the Mustangs still have their sights on the Big West Conference Tournament.
With the loss and UC Santa Barbara’s win later in the day, the Mustangs fell to third in the conference standings, meaning they’ll visit the Gauchos in a tournament semifinal Thursday.
The Mustangs’ Ashley Vallis opened the scoring in the eighth minute on a pass from Carrie Andrews, but Long Beach State’s Hayley Bolt answered on an assist from Dana Farquhar in the 15th.
By the 68th, Cal Poly found itself down 3-1.
“Long Beach State is a very good team,” Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said. “Then they got the goal off the corner kick and it just took it out of us, and the rest of the game just played out as it did.”
Vallis said the Mustangs’ enthusiasm dissipated a bit.
“We definitely came out with fire and somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes, we just lost it,” she said. “As our last game this season, we were trying to prove something in conference. And I think that we let up too soon.”
It looked as if the Mustangs might have had an opportunity for redemption in the second half when senior midfielder Leah Morales scored a goal off a free kick in the 84th minute.
But Long Beach State (13-4-3, 7-0-1), which outshot the Mustangs 18-11, held on.
Cal Poly finished 10-9 overall and 5-3 in Big West play.
“There were some games I thought that we didn’t win that we should have,” Crozier said. “Overall, I think that the team played pretty well and we are still getting better.”
Vallis agreed the record doesn’t reflect the Mustangs’ potential.
“We started off slow and we started building up,” she said. “I honestly feel that from freshman year to senior year, this is the strongest team we’ve ever had and we’ve got what it takes. We just need to do those little things and it will all come together.”
Cal Poly lost 4-2 at home against the Gauchos on Oct. 19.
“We felt like we didn’t play that well when we played Santa Barbara last time and made some mistakes,” Crozier said.
Vallis is confident Cal Poly will put Sunday’s game behind itself.
“That’s what we are going to be working on this whole week – focusing,” she said. “We need to show that we are No. 1. It doesn’t say it in the (standings) but we know it.”