Nick Larson & Trent Merfeld
[follow id = “njlarson8”] & [follow id= “MerfyMerf”]
The Cal Poly men’s soccer team (5-1-1) opened its five-game home stand with a 2-1 victory over San Francisco (4-2), extending its unbeaten streak to six matches.
6,856 fans were in attendance, making Friday night the ninth-largest crowd at a men’s soccer match in Alex G. Spanos Stadium history.
“The crowd was great,” interim head coach Phil Ruskin said. “Certainly the energy was electric. The crowd always spurs us on.”
Redshirt freshman forward Joseph Bolous opened the scoring in the 12th minute, tapping home a rebound at the back post for his second goal of the season.
The first half was very back-and-forth, seeing both teams countering at every opportunity. The Mustangs looked the stronger of the two sides going forward, linking up passes but unable to extend their lead.
The Dons showed their strength early in the second half. Within the first 10 minutes, a shot attempt was parried away by junior goalkeeper Wade Hamilton and finished on the rebound by a San Francisco player. However, he was flagged offside, revoking the score.
The Mustangs doubled their lead in the 70th minute when junior midfielder Matt Lagrassa headed home a cross from junior defender Kip Colvey. The goal is the team captain’s second in his last three matches.
The Dons made things interesting late, pulling back a goal in the 87th minute, but it was not enough to complete the comeback.
“We’re finding ways to win games,” Ruskin said. “At the end of the season, teams that find ways to win games ultimately give themselves a chance when the tournament starts.”
Hamilton, recently named the Disney Soccer/NSCAA National Player of the Week, was unable to post his fourth straight shutout but still came up big with six saves. Hamilton is the first player in program history to earn the NSCAA National Player of the Week honor.
Despite the unbeaten streak, the Mustangs have been dealing with injuries. Junior defender Kody Wakasa has been ruled out for the season with a foot injury, and redshirt freshman forward Kaba Alkebulan was held of the contest due to injury as well.
“The most important thing is that the players who were asked to play tonight stepped up and performed well,” Ruskin added.
Cal Poly continues its home stand Sunday at 1 p.m. against Pacific.