The Cal Poly men’s soccer team remained unbeaten at home this season with their 2-1 win over UC Riverside at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Saturday. The Mustangs (7-2-3, 2-0-2 Big West) gained their second conference match of the season against the visiting Highlanders (5-7-1, 1-3-0).
Senior midfielder Matt LaGrassa started the scoring for the Mustangs with a header off a Chase Minter corner kick in the 30th minute. LaGrassa leads the team with four goals on the year, while Minter leads the team in points with nine.
“We have really been focused on creating more chances offensively and when we went down south for our first two conference games we struggled a little bit to create those chances,” LaGrassa said. “But these last two games at home we have done a better job at converting.”
Cal Poly added to its lead near the end of the second period. Freshman forward Jared Pressley scored in the 80th minute off an assist from sophomore midfielder Joseph Bolous. It was the first collegiate goal scored by the 5’8″, 150-pound Pressley, who is from Powell, Ohio.
“I have been waiting awhile for that one,” Pressley said. “I have had some good opportunities this year and didn’t put them away, but I was glad I was able to do it tonight.”
The Highlanders put any early celebrations to rest when they answered in the 84th minute with a goal of their own. Forward Michael Salazar scored from the middle of the 18-yard box and the match suddenly felt more tense. But Cal Poly’s stout defense was able to hold off any hopes of a late Riverside run.
“At that point in the game, it’s about staying strong defensively and not taking on any unnecessary risk,” LaGrassa said.
With the win, Cal Poly maintained its hold on second place in the Big West Conference North Division. The Mustangs are ranked 19th in the most recent RPI poll, with North Division leader UC Santa Barbara sitting at 16th. Cal Poly plays their next match at UC Davis on Wednesday at 3 p.m.