Tony Ruiz secured Cal Poly's lone goal in the Big West opener. Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2022

Cal Poly men’s soccer opened up Big West play with a tightly-contested 1-1 draw with UC Davis on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Aggie Soccer Field.

The Mustangs (0-8-1, 0-0-1 Big West) and Aggies (1-5-3, 0-0-1 Big West) matched up well, but they will both have to wait for their first taste of victory in conference play.

Early on in the contest, it seemed as though a draw was nowhere in sight and that the Mustangs were on their way to winning their first Big West opener in five years. 

After sophomore goalkeeper Gabe Penner recorded his second save of the afternoon in the 20th minute, Cal Poly surged ahead three minutes later after sophomore defender Conner Leber reached the UC Davis penalty area with a throw-in from the right touchline.

The Aggies were unable to clear and in the 23rd minute, junior midfielder Tony Ruiz – a transfer from Hartnell College – tapped in his first goal as a Mustang to give Cal Poly just their second lead of the season at 1-0.

The score would remain 1-0 for the rest of the first half, as neither team could create or convert any shots on goal following Ruiz’s tapper. The Mustang defense led the way, limiting the chances of the home team going into the break. 

As the second half drew on, it appeared that Cal Poly would add to its lead. Penner recorded his third save of the contest in the 50th minute, and the Mustang offense enjoyed attempts to double the lead in the 63rd and 64th minutes.

However, redshirt freshman midfielder Richie Garcia’s initial attempt at the right post was saved by UC Davis goalkeeper Charles Janssen, and freshman forward Sean McTague ripped a shot that just grazed the crossbar, keeping the score at 1-0

That was the point at which things began to slip for the Mustangs. As the half progressed, the Aggies found themselves on Cal Poly’s half of the pitch more and more, and the Mustangs were plagued by poor control and multiple offsides calls. After a foul by Cal Poly in the 77th set up an Aggie free kick in the attacking end, Davis had their shot to even the score.

Following their free kick, the Aggies scored after forward Ethan Hoard chipped a perfect pass to freshman forward Cason Goodman, who guided a header past Penner for the equalizer with just 12 minutes remaining. Neither squad was able to do anything offensively the rest of the way, and the final whistle sounded on the 1-1 draw.

Despite the opportunities they had in the second half, the Mustangs still found themselves outshot eight to three, for a 16-6 total. On a positive note for Cal Poly, they allowed five shots on goal to set a season-best while also recording three more saves than the Aggies.

The Mustangs will look to earn their first win of the season when they return home to Alex G. Spanos Stadium and face the UC Irvine Anteaters on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 5 p.m.