Nick Larson & Trent Merfeld
[follow id = “njlarson8”] & [follow id= “MerfyMerf”]
The Cal Poly men’s soccer team (5-2-2) played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer Friday night against Drake (2-4-2) in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The first half saw no goals, but plenty of action. Drake was able to muster nine shots, while the Mustangs managed eight. Despite the 17 shots, none were of high quality, as only four saves were forced between Drake’s goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod and Cal Poly’s junior goalkeeper Wade Hamilton.
The Mustangs are visibly compensating for injuries, tampering and tweaking the lineup each match. This contest saw redshirt freshman Joseph Bolous slot into an attacking-midfield role just ahead of senior midfielder Steve Palacios, a new combination in the center of the pitch.
Freshman forward Adam Olsen has also benefited from a banged-up Cal Poly squad. He filled in nicely up top, providing a physical presence with his 6-foot-2 frame.
The Mustangs only made one substitution in the entire game, exemplifying their lack of depth at the moment.
The second half opened nearly perfectly for the Mustangs. A low cross from junior midfielder Matt LaGrassa found sophomore forward Justin Dhillon at the 6-yard box, but he could not steer the ball inside the post.
In the 59th minute, junior midfielder Chase Minter was taken down inside the box, but the referee was having none of it and waved the play on.
“It’s college; it’s expected,” Minter said of the refereeing. “If he doesn’t call it, he doesn’t call it. We were the better team, and it’s on us to show that, not him.”
The referee was lenient, letting a lot of physicality go undisciplined. Cal Poly players and coaches were visibly frustrated with the lack of calls. After a relatively clean first half, there were seven total calls in the second half and many no-calls that could have been whistled.
When asked about the fouls in the game, interim head coach Phil Ruskin sported a cheeky smile and said, “What calls?”
Both teams had chances late in the game, but neither could find the back of the net. The Mustangs ended with 16 shots, five of those on goal, while Drake finished with 13 shots, though only three were on goal.
“We certainly outplayed them in every phase of the game,” Ruskin added. “We were unlucky not to finish a couple times.”
This was the second golden-goal overtime for the Mustangs this year. The first time was against No. 1 UCLA, which failed to see a goal in the extra 20 minutes, ending in a goalless draw.
After a blistering start to the season, the Mustangs have been held in check of late, scoring only three goals in their last four matches. Minter was on fire early, with three goals in the first three matches, but has been held scoreless since.
“As an attacker, you can never come off the field thinking you played well unless you create a goal or score a goal,” Minter said. “I wasn’t able to do that, so back to the drawing board.”
The Mustangs are finished with nonconference play and now look ahead to their Big West Conference opener on Thursday at home against No. 24 UC Irvine.