Cal Poly men’s soccer lost in the Blue-Green rivalry game to UC Santa Barbara by a score of 2-1 on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at Alex G. Spanos Stadium
The Gauchos (5-1-2) tripled the shots on target by the Mustangs (0-7-0), and controlled the ball in the Cal Poly half for the majority of the game in front of the near-sellout crowd of 10,392.
The attendance number clocked in as the 25th-largest in NCAA regular season history.
UCSB started the scoring in the 18th minute, as Gaucho defender Caden Vom Steeg floated a cross in front of Cal Poly and UCSB players alike before finding the right foot of Gaucho forward Alexis Ledoux on the back post, who put the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the night.
Cal Poly redshirt freshman midfielder Richie Garica saw a yellow card for a reckless hand to the face just before the break, and his teammate, sophomore defender Logan Thralls, picked up a yellow for a late challenge just after halftime.
The Gauchos took their 1-0 lead into the half, as the Mustangs couldn’t get much going offensively.
In the 72nd minute, junior midfielder Tony Ruiz had Cal Poly’s best open play chance of the game, but he could not get a solid strike on the ball and Gaucho keeper Leroy Zeller collected the loose ball.
With a chance to put the game away in the 85th minute, the Gauchos’ Filip Basili put a cross into the box that found the head of Finn Ballard McBride, who scored. However, the Mustangs were saved from going down 2-0, as McBride was called offside.
With less than five minutes to play, the Mustangs pushed forward and in the 89th minute on a centerball, freshman forward Isak Clausen was barreled into from behind by Zeller in the box and won a penalty.
Sophomore midfielder Nate Colley then stepped up to the spot with all the pressure on and the crowd on their feet. Colley took his run up to the ball and slotted the penalty to the bottom left corner of the net just out of the reach of Zeller’s gloves for his first goal of the year and even the game up at 1-1.
With that goal, the Alex G. Spanos Stadium crowd erupted.
“I just took myself back to the backyard when I was a kid, the training at home,” Colley said. “I’ve done that shot thousands of times in my life, but to do it in front of that many people is obviously a lot different”
The score left 1:25 on the clock for either team to take advantage of before possible overtime. On the UCSB kickoff, they quickly worked the ball into the attacking half. With 12 seconds left to play, Jorge Aldana lofted the ball into the box. Salvador Aguilar, on almost the exact spot where McBride nearly put the game away in the 85th minute, provided the last word in this edition of the Blue-Green rivalry by heading home the match-winner, leaving the home fans speechless.
The Gauchos stormed onto the field, and the celebration for the visiting rivals only continued when the final horn sounded.
“To have that many emotion swings, them scoring first, us picking up the goal and then to give it up late is obviously a really sad thing,” Colley said after the match.
Cal Poly will look to get into the win column on Saturday, Sept. 24 as they host the University of San Diego Toreros at 5 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.