One spot out of Big West playoffs and only two games remaining, Cal Poly entered its match against Cal State Fullerton Wednesday in a must-win scenario. With help from senior David Zamora, the Cal Poly Mustangs (7-6-3, 4-3-2 Big West) knocked off Cal State Fullerton (6-10-2, 4-6-0) 1-0 Wednesday night in Alex G. Spanos Stadium, clinching a spot in the Big West Tournament.
Both teams began the match slow, with Cal Poly registering only one shot on goal, and Cal State Fullerton with only two, in a scoreless first half.
Holocher said his team was able to turn the game around in the second half by discussing a new strategy in the locker room at halftime.
“We were just not dangerous enough in the first half,” Holocher said. “We weren’t asking our defense enough questions. It took a halftime talk to get our guys going in the right direction again.”
Cal Poly started the second half drilling Cal State Fullerton, recording eight shots in a row in eight minutes. They finished with 17 shots in the second half, seven of them on goal.
A shot attempt came from Zamora in the 47th minute but was narrowly saved by Cal State Fullerton goalie Trevor Whiddon.
Just one minute later, Zamora had another chance at a goal with a pass from junior Jake Hustedt just a few yards from the post. Zamora jumped in the air, collided with Whiddon, and headed the ball into the net giving Cal Poly the lead and eventual win.
After breaking the Cal Poly all-time point record last week against Santa Barbara, Zamora is just one goal away from becoming Cal Poly’s all-time leading goal scorer. He finished the game with a team-high six shots.
Senior Junior Burgos was second on the team in shots with five.
In what may be his last home game of his Cal Poly career, Zamora said he was really going to miss playing in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
“Its been four great years,” Zamora said. “There a lot of memories in this stadium and its great to finish with the win and the goal … A lot of stuff goes through your mind before the game and it was really nice having my dad and part of my family be part of this.”
Holocher said he and the team will miss both graduating seniors Burgos and Zamora, especially Zamora, one of Holocher’s first recruits.
“They’re both two special young guys,” Holocher said. “David, for me, was in my first full recruiting class. He came from Costa Rica and he’s such a wonderful human being. His first game he scored a Hat Trick against Cal, his last game on the field he score a game-winning goal. He’s been so consistently good for four years and he’s been everything we could have dreamed of.”
It took a loss from UC Davis to propel the Mustangs into the postseason. Their win alone didn’t do the job, but in conjunction with a loss from the Aggies, the Mustangs season will be at least one match longer.
After a long season, its something the team deserved, Burgos said.
“I’m excited,” Burgos said. ” I want the best for this team … I know we can compete against the best teams in the conference.”
Cal Poly’s last game will be against Cal State Northridge, and a win will determine whether Cal Poly seeds third or fourth in the Big West Conference standings. A third place finish would face them against UC Irvine in the first round of playoffs, while a fourth place finish would pit them against conference rivals UC Santa Barbara.