Ian Billings/Mustang News

Sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff earned Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday after posting a nation-leading 21 goals this season. Seven other Mustangs garnered all-conference honors, as well.

Aryn Sanderson
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Spoiler alert: Elise Krieghoff is good.

She’s leading the nation in goals. With 21 this season, she broke the Cal Poly all-time single-season school record — a record that had been untouched for 21 years.

Seven of her goals were game-winners, and just one came on a penalty kick. She’s had six multi-goal matches, four of which where she racked up more than one goal within a five-minute span. She’s third all-time on the Big West single-season chart, only four goals behind UC Santa Barbara’s Krystal Sanza’s record-holding season. She’s been named the conference offensive player of the week five times this year, a single-season Big West record.

So it wasn’t a surprise that the Cal Poly sophomore forward was named the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year on Tuesday.

Except to her.

“Every time I get an award, I’m still pretty shocked,” she said. “Next season, things could be a lot different, like I could be out with an injury or something, so I just take the awards as they come because nothing is ever really given to you. They’re still really special. This one kind of sums up everything we’ve done this season in one really big award, all of the hard work that my teammates and I have put in.”

The team is really what it’s all about for Krieghoff.

“She’s scoring a lot of goals, but her teammates are doing the dirty work to get her there,” head coach Alex Crozier said.

Those teammates include senior midfielder Haley Walker, the only other Cal Poly player to make the All-Big West First Team.

“If you look at the stats, you don’t see much, but she’s the engine that makes our team run, and I think the coaches realized that,” Crozier said of Walker.

Walker has been a consistent driving force for the team, setting others up to get the big stats.

Walker, though, is humble about her role.

Krieghoff making the All-Big West First Team —  well, Walker “saw that coming,” she says, “and it was deserved.”

But when Walker found out she made the cut, too, it was “a complete surprise,” she said. She didn’t even find out until Mustang News contacted her for an interview.

“I looked it up after that and was like ‘so cool,’” the senior midfielder, said. “I called my parents — they came to almost every single game this season, even in Hawaii — and they were excited to see my hard work get recognized.”

Still, it’s all a team effort, she said.

“Our team has been working so hard,” she said. “I honestly think our whole team should be on that list.”

Walker and Krieghoff weren’t the only Cal Poly players recognized. Four others made All-Big West Second Team.

Freshman forward Megan Abutin, defenders Cristina Farrington and Jordyn Zander and goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti were recognized as All-Big West Second Team.

Seniors Farrington and Zander haven’t been recognized by Big West before despite playing the entirety of their college careers.

“It was a blessing,” Zander said. “It felt like all my hard work paid off in the end.”

She credits a united team with her success.

“As a team, we worked better together this year,” she said. “We had the heart and desire to win, and we had drive and determination to go far. I think we were all on the same page in the season, and we had one goal in mind and that was to win conference, and we did it.”

Farrington also sees this as recognition for her team, not just herself.

“I was happy that I could have made a bigger impact than I even thought,” she said.

Giannetti says the acknowledgement was “a great honor” and a “prestigious award,” but, as an underclassmen, this is just her beginning.

“I still have two more years to make a difference for my team,” she said.

Giannetti is “special,” her coach said.

“I think she’s probably the best goalkeeper in the league,” Crozier said. “She’s this rare type of goalkeeper that’s got another dimension. She’s great with the ball at her feet, and she’s part of our attack. That’s rare in a goalkeeper.”

Cal Poly senior midfielder Kacey Held, whose six assists this season tied for second in the Big West, was also named an all-conference honorable mention.

The team plays fourth-seeded Cal State Fullerton in a semi-final match of the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday at 7:35 p.m.

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