Joseph Pack/Mustang News

Senior forward Mackenzie Pridham matched the Cal Poly men’s soccer program record scoring his 26th career goal in a 4-2 win over Sacramento State on Saturday.

Jacob Lauing
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With its 4-2 victory over Sacramento State on Saturday night, the Cal Poly men’s soccer team reached 41 total goals on the season and broke the previous school record of 40.

The Mustangs (10-6-2, 3-3-2 Big West Conference) were fresh off two consecutive 1-1 draws with UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, and entered Saturday’s match looking for some more offensive production.

“We just focused on being more patient and getting back to passing the ball a little bit better and not being so direct,” head coach Paul Holocher said. “That’s what got us the goals in the first place. It opens up the game and we create better opportunities.”

The Mustangs did just that in the first half.

Senior forward Mackenzie Pridham had four shots and one goal of his own through the first 45 minutes, while the team collectively recorded 11 shots and five shots on goal.

At the 22:08 mark, one of those shots got by Sacramento State’s goalkeeper Cesar Castillo.

Following a sharp cross from freshman winger Ari Lassiter, George Malki poked one in the right side of the goal and gave Cal Poly the lead.

The goal marked Malki’s second goal of the season and Lassiter’s fourth assist.

“It happened quick,” Malki said. “Ari beat his guy. As soon as he beat him I made a run in for the box and (he) played in a perfect ball, I redirected it and it went in perfectly. I don’t know if that was luck or if it was a good shot, but it worked.”

But the tide soon changed, as Sacramento State took control and answered back in the 34th minute.

Defender Andrew Gosselin took advantage of a free kick from the right side of the box, connecting on his second goal of the year to even the score at one apiece.

In the 57th minute, Lassiter sent a shot slicing towards the right side of the goal, which bounced off Sacramento State defender Mason McCann and hit the right corner of the goal, putting Cal Poly up 2-1.

“When we get the ball on the ground, when we move it and share with each other, that’s when we get our chances,” Malki said. “When we’re high pressing and we’re playing on the ground and moving for each other, and we’re playing quick and smart, that’s when we’re at our best.”

The Mustangs tacked on another with 16 minutes left in regulation when Pridham, who had five shots in the first half, finally found the net. It marked Pridham’s 13th goal of the season and the 26th of his career.

After a 69th-minute goal from Sacramento State, Pridham had the opportunity for number 27, but instead passed to senior midfielder Kevin Atkins on a breakaway. Atkins recorded his first career goal and gave the Mustangs a 4-2 victory in the 90th minute.

“Right when I got it, my first instinct is always to go to goal, that’s just my natural thing to do,” Pridham said. “But Kevin Atkins is an amazing man. That guy’s got me so many assists. Senior night, he got on the field and he deserved it, so I owed it to him.”

Saturday night marked the last regular season game in Alex G. Spanos Stadium for eight Cal Poly seniors. Chris Bernardi, Pridham, Atkins, Malki, Mike Hocker, Ronald Medrano Williams, Connor Drechsler and Brett Finkelstein were honored on the field before the game.

“It’s definitely a special moment,” Malki said. “I guess it’s kind of sad. But it’s not over yet. We still have two more games.”

Cal Poly rounds out its 2013 campaign on the road, facing UC Davis on Nov. 6 and No. 16 UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 9.

Currently sitting three points clear of the Aggies with two matches to go, the Mustangs need a victory against UC Davis to clinch second place in the Big West North Division. In that case, Cal Poly would host the third-place team from the southern division in the first round of the Big West tournament, while the first place teams in each division receive a bye.

“We’re going to try to do things that this program has never done,” Malki said. “I look forward to these next couple games.”

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