For the first time in four seasons, Cal Poly Men’s Soccer is returning to the Big West Conference Tournament. The Mustangs will host Cal State Fullerton in an opening-round match on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Cal Poly (7-8-1, 3-4 Big West) finished the regular season tied for fourth place in the Big West standings with three wins and four losses. Cal State Fullerton (11-6-1, 3-4 Big West) tied Cal Poly with nine points in the standings and an identical conference record.
The last time Cal Poly hosted a Big West Tournament game was in 2015, when the Mustangs eliminated UC Irvine 1-0 in the opening round before falling to the Titans 3-1 in the semifinal. The win against UC Irvine remains the program’s first and only Big West Tournament victory.
Senior defender Daniel Klemm said the team is confident in their ability to compete in the upcoming match against the Titans.
“We were looked at as underdogs throughout the whole season and I think we’ve had a chip on our shoulder ever since,” Klemm said. “This is an opportunity to continue to prove people wrong.”
The Mustangs earned the opening-round home match after having defeated Cal State Fullerton 3-1 during the regular season on Oct. 16. Klemm said playing opponents they’ve faced before can only give them an advantage.
“We’ve played every team in the Big West at this point, and I can say with confidence that there’s no team in the Big West that we can’t dominate,” Klemm said.
Head coach Steve Samson said other teams in the conference didn’t have the same respect for the Mustangs as they do now that the season has ended.
“It’s a massive opportunity for us on the heels of playing two very good teams in our conference, to continue to demonstrate that we belong,” Sampson said.
Cal Poly played their final game of the regular season against UC Santa Barbara in a home match that broke this season’s NCAA attendance records. The Gauchos won 2-0 despite a shot total difference of 19-3 in favor of the Mustangs.
“We’re coming off having played in front of 12,000 people and we feel we sort of let our fans and ourselves down by not putting a ball or two in the back of the net,” Sampson said. “I think we have something to prove, and we’re not taking this game lightly at all. We have no right to.”
Cal Poly’s game against Cal State Fullerton in the opening round of the Big West Tournament kicks off at 7 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.