Cal Poly Men’s Soccer secured it’s first conference victory of the season over Cal State Fullerton 3-1 on Wednesday, Oct. 16 in Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Two Fullerton own goals and a third from junior forward Angel De Leon left the Titans as the only winless team remaining in the Big West Conference.
“It feels great because we’ve been playing some really good soccer as of late, we just hadn’t been able to find the back of the net,” head coach Steve Sampson said. “It was refreshing. Overall, I’ve been really, really pleased with the quality of the soccer we’ve been playing.”
After the Titans opened the match with a shot from defender Edward Salazar in the second minute, the Mustangs responded with a chance from De Leon one minute later. Another Mustang attack came in the fifth minute when a cross to the back-post nearly found the head of junior midfielder Emmanuel Perez, but was inches too high.
The Mustangs thought they had jumped into the lead in the 14th minute when a corner kick by junior defender Freeman Dwamena found the head of fellow defender Andrew Forth, who calmly headed the ball past the Fullerton keeper. However, the goal was disallowed due to of an offsides call on the play.
The first goal of the match came six minutes later in the form of an own goal when Cal State Fullerton defender Clayton Torr sent a pass back to his goalkeeper. The Titan goalkeeper mistakenly allowed the ball to roll right underneath his foot and was forced to watch as it crossed the touchline behind him.
The Mustangs doubled their lead in the 20th minute after a low pass played across the box by Perez found the feet of De Leon, who slid the ball home for his third goal of the season.
Cal State Fullerton got one goal back before the first half ended when midfielder Sebastion Cruz received a pass at the top of the box and curled a bending shot into the top corner of the net. The Titans gained momentum in the last five minutes, but failed to score as Cal Poly carried a 2-1 lead into halftime.
While Sampson praised the Mustangs’ performance after the match, he also said the team needs to “learn to put teams away earlier.”
“We allowed Fullerton back into the game psychologically and emotionally,” Sampson said. “Lesson learned. When you’re up 2-0 and you have opportunities to put the game away, you gotta do it.”
The Mustangs started the second half with four chances within the first five minutes — all of which through Perez. In the 56th minute, De Leon played a low ball across the box to Perez from the left side. Perez’ ensuing shot was deflected by the Titan goalkeeper directly into defender Jose Delgado, who deflected the ball back toward the net for the second own goal of the night.
The Mustangs held their 3-1 lead until the final whistle to secure their first conference victory of the season. Cal Poly allowed zero shots on goal in the second half and only a single corner kick.
Sampson credited Perez and De Leon for their performances against the Titans after the Mustangs’ victory.
“I’m really happy for [De Leon], he’s a very quiet, introverted individual, but he sort of comes alive on the soccer field,” Sampson said. “He worked really hard this summer and came back with an incredibly different attitude, much more mature…” Sampson said.
The Mustangs return to Alex G. Spanos Stadium to take on CSUN on Sunday Oct. 20, at 5 p.m.