David Zamora took a free kick a few yards out of the goal box and sent a tight curl off the left post and in. Photos by Daniela Orihuela-Gruber
David Zamora took a free kick a few yards out of the goal box and sent a tight curl off the left post and in. Photo by Daniela Orihuela-Gruber

The Cal Poly men’s soccer team (8-10-2) season came to a close last night against the UC Irvine Anteaters (14-6-0) in a double overtime, Big West semi-final 2-1 showdown at Alex G. Spanos stadium. The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos after defeating Cal State Northridge 1-0 last night, will now host the Anteaters at Harder Stadium for the Big West Conference Championships.

Coming into the game Cal Poly was ranked number two in the league with the Anteaters right on their heels at number three. The Anteaters showed their prowess at only 2:02 when forward Carlos Aguilar was lofted a shot by midfielder Irving Garcia which Aguilar headed over the outstretched hands of Mustangs keeper Patrick McLain. The early goal marked the first time the Mustangs had trailed in 652 minutes at home.

McLain said that although the goal was tough on him he tried to use it as a motivator.

“I tried to keep my head up and move past it,” McLain said. “I thought it helped give us something to fight for. It’s like someone giving you the first punch. OK we’re in it now.”

The Mustangs didn’t take a shot until 26:10 into the game but were able to capitalize on another opportunity minutes later. David Zamora took a free kick a few yards out of the goal box and sent a tight curl off the left post and in. Zamora said that it was helpful they were able to capitalize on the opportunity.

“This game I was lucky enough to put it away and get the tie,” he said. “At the moment it was really important.”

Zamora, with seven goals, ended the season as the Mustangs leading scorer.

The game became a offensive stalemate with both defenses shutting down the other’s offense whenever they got a chance. Zamora knew what he was up against and tried to play through it.

“Their back line is pretty big, It’s the Big West, that’s the way you play,” he said. “Their defenders are really tough and sometimes they kick you when the referee is not seeing.”

The game was physical throughout. There were six yellow cards and 23 total fouls one of which would lead to the Mustangs loss in the second double overtime, sudden-death period.

Mustangs midfielder Brian Jones was trying to stop an advance by Anteaters forward Spencer Thompson in the goal box and took him down, resulting in a penalty. Aguilar took the penalty kick and reminiscent of Zamora’s earlier goal, curved it into the left corner of the net past McLain’s outstretched hands.

“That last play is obviously going to haunt me for a while,” McLain said.

McLain had his work cut out for him throughout the game. The Anteaters spent significantly more time near the Mustangs’ goal. They took 21 shots on goal compared to Cal Poly’s six. McLain had a career high eight saves in the game.

Head coach Pal Holocher said he was proud of how his guys played but gave credit to a talented Irvine team.

“I just thought Irvine was more deserving team tonight,” he said. “We gave them way too many corner kicks, way too many throw-ins. They kept the ball better than us in the second half. They attacked better than us.”

Holocher said the team was disappointed they had to end the season with the loss but that they had a good future to look towards.

“I think we did well this year and I think the experience will bode well for us in the future,” he said. “You can’t rush experience and I think that’s what we got this year.”

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3 Comments

  1. good job mustangs u guys did good. you guys didnt give up and that was the good thing. that shows that you guys are a team that can work together and that you guys can make it through next year.

  2. good job mustangs. you guys tried hard and it shows how u guys worked as a team. you guys never gave up and thats a plus. that shows that you guys have a good chance next year. good luck.

  3. Congratulations to the Mustangs for a great season. I just managed to make it to my first few soccer games here at Poly this season, and quickly became addicted. I’m curious why the field was freshly painted for Saturday’s upcoming football game right before a PLAYOFF soccer game. In the heat of the game I don’t see how it couldn’t be at least mildly distracting to have extra lines painted everywhere. Why not wait until Thursday to prep the field for football? I hope in the future we can show more respect for a soccer team that has certainly made me proud to be a fan. Go Mustangs!

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