Credit: Diego Rivera | Mustang News

Naythan Bryant — Volleyball’s reverse sweep at NCAA Tournament

December 5, 2019

I don’t think any of us knew what to expect when we arrived at Stanford for Cal Poly Volleyball’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against Georgia. I sat and watched in excitement as the teams warmed up. My excitement only grew when I saw former Big West Player of the Year Torrey Van Winden, who sat out the entire year due to injury, suit up for the first time that season. 

The first and second rounds were tight, back-and-forth battles that saw Cal Poly on the brink of defeat, down 0-2 to Georgia. I was starting to think it would be a short trip, dreading the three-hour drive back to San Luis Obispo. But then it happened. After leading by just one point at 20-19 in the third set, the Mustangs ripped off a 5-1 run to seal the set victory and deny the sweep. Cal Poly fired back once again in the fourth round to tie the match at 2-2 and force a decisive fifth set. 

Something had changed within the Mustangs’ play. You could actually feel the momentum and the significance of the moment as it unfolded. After Cal Poly mounted a 14-10 lead, sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea set a perfect pass to the left side for senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey to smash the ball over the net, completing the reverse sweep and knocking Georgia out of the NCAA Tournament. 

Kyle Har — Men’s Basketball 101-100 overtime win vs. Cal State Fullerton

January 30, 2020

There was hype surrounding the men’s basketball game versus Cal State Fullerton because it was the first time the two teams had faced each other since John Smith, Cal State Fullerton’s former associate head coach, became the head coach at Cal Poly. Cal Poly led by 10 points with 2:32 remaining. I remember one of my friends saying we should leave because they were going to win the game. However, the Titans cut down the lead, sending the game to overtime. 

In overtime, Titan guard Austen Awosika hit another clutch shot with four seconds remaining to take a 100-99 Cal State Fullerton lead. The Mustangs quickly inbounded the ball to junior point guard Keith Smith. Smith raced to half court before dropping a bouncing pass to freshman guard Colby Rogers, who scored the game-winning layup with just 0.4 seconds remaining. It was one of the craziest Cal Poly sports moments I have ever seen. 

Rafael Medina — Women’s Basketball takes down UC Santa Barbara 

February 26, 2020

This women’s basketball edition of the Blue-Green Rivalry meant even more than usual. With only three games left in conference play, the chances for the Cal Poly Women’s Basketball team to qualify for the Big West Tournament were dwindling.

While the Mustangs held a comfortable lead throughout most of the game, things quickly spiraled in the opposite direction near the end. With just 2:20 remaining on the clock, Cal Poly lost its lead and fell behind at 52-50.

That’s when superstar freshman point guard Abbey Ellis came off the bench and, after only 16 seconds, sank the three-pointer that erupted the stadium walls and sent us into the conference playoffs with a 53-52 lead. The Mustangs finished off the Gauchos at 56-52.

I hadn’t covered a game all season where Cal Poly won at home. Chills went down my spine as I knew the Mustangs qualified for the Big West Tournament, and I knew this was unarguably my top moment of the year.

Diego Sandoval — Baseball’s walk-off against No. 5 Michigan 

February 29, 2020

Before the Cal Poly baseball season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had faced many tough opponents, including Michigan, who were ranked No. 5 in the country. Despite playing these high-level teams very well, the Mustangs were struggling to finish out games.

After Cal Poly dropped a close first game of the weekend series, the Mustangs and the Wolverines faced off for a Saturday matchup where Cal Poly was hoping to turn their season around. Based on the first game of the series, I knew it was going to be a dogfight, and it ended up being just that.

The first eight innings of the game were very back-and-forth, with Michigan holding a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. With the game on the line, a fielder’s choice off the bat of senior outfielder Bradlee Beesley tied the game up heading into extra innings.

After keeping the game tied in the top of the tenth, freshman infielder Taison Corio stepped up to the plate. Being an unproven freshman, I, along with others throughout the stadium, was unsure of Corio’s abilities to come through in the clutch. Corio proved his worth by knocking in the game-winning run for the Mustangs, giving them their second walk-off win against a Top-5 opponent in the 2020 season.

Adam Birder — Sophia Brown penalty kick on Senior Day

November 3, 2019

Most goalkeepers go their whole careers without scoring a goal — the odds are certainly slim. However, senior goalkeeper Sophia Brown defied the odds and scored on Senior Day, the last match of her Cal Poly career. 

Already winning 1-0 in the 70th minute, freshman forward Nikki Trucco was tripped in the penalty box, giving the Mustangs a penalty kick. A sense of uncertainty from teammates on who will take the shot was soon followed by shouts from the Cal Poly players, urging Brown to take the honors in her last match in green and gold.

When Brown began making the long run to the other penalty box, it sparked immediate excitement from the whole stadium on an already celebratory day. Cal Poly had dominated the game so far, despite only leading by one goal, and Brown had already made multiple saves to maintain the lead. The keeper coolly put the ball in the upper right corner of the goal, effectively sealing the game for Cal Poly on Senior Day.

The result was a 3-0 win, with the heart of the women’s soccer program scoring her first-ever goal in her last game for Cal Poly. There was no better way to cap the season, making it my top moment.

Garrett Brown — Baseball’s walk-off against No. 1 Vanderbilt

February 16, 2020

As a smaller school on the collegiate athletic scene, Cal Poly often has to embrace the underdog mentality. One of the upsides of being the underdog is that everyone loves to see the underdog win. That’s exactly what happened when Cal Poly took down defending national champions Vanderbilt in the second game of the season. 

It was evident early on in the game that the Mustangs were not going to make this an easy win for the defending champs. Cal Poly claimed an early lead by putting up a run in each of the first three innings, and at one point even led 7-2.

However, Vanderbilt crept back in the game and tied it up in the eighth inning at 7-7. It started to look like Cal Poly was going to blow their big chance to stun the baseball world after giving up another run in the top of the ninth to put the defending champs up 8-7. 

That’s when the heart of the Cal Poly lineup led them back to a tie. Kicked off by Myles Emmerson’s leadoff double, Elijah Green produced a base hit and advanced to second base on a throwing error. The Mustangs followed up with back-to-back sacrifice flies for an 8-7 walk-off win against the No. 1 team in the nation.

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