Junior midfielder Emmanuel Perez scored his second consecutive brace in a 3-0 home victory against nonconference opponent Westmont College on Thursday, Sept. 19.
Perez was named the Cal Poly Student-Athlete of the Week four days prior after collecting three goals in victories against Fresno State (Sept. 10) and Gonzaga (Sept. 15). Junior defender Andrew Forth added his first career goal for the Mustangs in Thursday’s victory as well.
“We were putting together possessions and creating opportunities,” Head Coach Steve Sampson said. “In that aspect of the game, I thought we had really grown from one game to the next, and that’s what I was really looking for.”
The Mustangs held steady possession of the ball throughout the first half of the match, but failed to convert a goal in their first seven shots. While the first half finished 0-0, Cal Poly had no trouble converting their opportunities throughout the remainder of the match.
Perez said the team was focused on beginning the second half with high intensity and high quality gameplay.
“We’ve been training on it and emphasizing that the whole week,” Perez said. “One of our goals was to play the first half the same as the second half, or even better.”
One minute into the second half, sophomore defender Andrew Robertson placed a cross from the right side onto Perez’s ball, who directed the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead. Ninety seconds later, Perez notched his second goal from the middle of the box off an assist from senior midfielder Diego Alonso.
Sampson said the key to Perez’s success was not only placing him higher up the field, but allowing him to be more selfish with the ball as well.
“I told him, ‘You’re in this center channel of the field, stop giving balls away and trying to get assists. You’re a striker now. Go for goal,’” Sampson said. “And that’s exactly what he did.”
Forth capped the scoring for the Mustangs in the 72nd minute with a header off an Alonso corner kick. The goal was a career first for Forth. Sophomore goalkeeper Carlos Arce-Hurtado recorded the first solo shut-out of his career in the victory, but not before making two saves in the final eight minutes as the match concluded at 3-0.
While Sampson said the team is starting to click, he also pointed to bigger tests ahead, such as the Mustang’s home match against Seattle University on Sept. 23.
“We just have to match up well with them, close down key players and continue to play the quality soccer that we’ve demonstrated in the last three games,” Sampson said.