Despite scoring two goals in the final four minutes of regulation to even the score, Cal Poly men’s soccer ultimately fell 3-2 in overtime against No. 25 Grand Canyon University on Thursday, Sept. 16 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Senior midfielder Neil Boyal collected an assist and a goal in the defeat and now leads the Big West Conference in assists with four.
“I just want to get the wins,” Boyal said. “The assists, the goals, it is what it is, but if we can get the wins, then that’s all I really care about.”
The Mustangs (2-2-1) kicked off the first 15 minutes with the upper hand over the Lopes (5-1-0), holding and recovering lost balls in the midfield while recording a 66% possession rate.
After an uneventful first 40 minutes, GCU looked to open the scoring late in the first half with a dangerous chance as a crossed ball from the right corner was headered just wide of the upper left post.
Both sides went into halftime with zero shots on goal and the Lopes nearly caught up in ball possession with 48% compared to the Mustangs’ 52%.
The second half continued with the same slow pace, but the action started to kick in when GCU opened the scoring in the 62nd minute as Marco Afonso found a solo breakaway, slotting the ball past the keeper into the bottom right corner.
In search of the first goal for the Mustangs, freshman midfielder Nathan Colley nearly evened the score in the 67th minute with a shot from outside the 18-yard box that notched the lower right post.
Still looking for Cal Poly’s first score in the 80th minute, senior defender Josh Graham headered the ball off of a corner kick. However, it calmly landed into the hands of the goalkeeper.
Two minutes later, GCU extended their lead to 2-0 thanks to a left-footed strike from Justin Rasmussen.
However, the Mustangs did not let their spirits down and, in the 86th minute, Boyal found freshman defender Jacob Glass in the back of the penalty area to convert his third goal of the season to bring the score 2-1.
“[The goal] was a bit bittersweet today,” Glass said.
“We spend a lot of time on the training pitch practicing set pieces and for whatever reason this year my balls end up finding Jacob more times than not,” Boyal said.
In the 88th minute, just two minutes after the Mustangs scored their first goal of the night, Boyal found the bottom right corner of the goal to even the score and send the game into overtime.
“It’s such a roller coaster of emotions, soccer is,” Boyal said. “It just shows the resilience of our squad.”
Eight minutes into overtime, Afonso fired a left-footed free kick into the right side of the goal to win the match for the Lopes 3-2.
“You hate to see that go in, especially with the momentum we felt like we had, but that’s soccer,” Boyal said. “We’ve got another game coming up, so we have to clean it out of our mind and focus on the next one.”
GCU capitalized on their shots, scoring three goals in only four shots on target, but Cal Poly’s defensive efforts did not go unnoticed.
“I think me and [Josh Graham] have a good partnership going with more minutes together,” Glass said. “We’re always working hard to make sure that we win the ball back.”
Cal Poly will look to bounce back from the defeat against another ranked opponent, visiting No. 15 Loyola Marymount on Monday, Sept. 20 at 7:00PM.