Cal Poly (3-3-1) was able to record their first home win of the season against Cal State Bakersfield (5-3-0) with their highest scoring game of the season.
Cal Poly had been struggling offensively in their last three matches of the season, tying for season lows in shots (9) in their last two losses against Loyola Marymount and Notre Dame, and scoring no goals in a double overtime match to UCLA.
Trying a new offensive strategy, head coach Paul Holocher started Wednesday’s game with a different formation then Cal Poly had been playing. Instead of starting a usual three forwards, Holocher started only two with an extra midfielder.
“(The formation) did produce results for us,” Holocher said. “The first goal scored was a typical 4-4-2 goal where one of the frontrunners slips in behind the defense, and (Justin Hill) did a great job to put in that first goal.”
In the 34th minute, freshman Justin Hill scored his first goal of the season off an assist from senior David Zamora. With four defenders around him, Hill managed to beat the man guarding him, dribble left around goalkeeper Shane Ascheri, and shoot the ball between two more defenders to give Cal Poly the lead.
“I had the ball and was one-on-one with the goalie but I had a bad angle. I was able to sense where I had pressure and where I needed to dribble the ball to score,” Hill said.
Zamora, who has a team-leading three assists for the season, tied for most shots of the game (3), but was still unable to score his first goal of the season. Zamora has lead the team in scoring in both the least two years. This is the first time since playing with Cal Poly that he has gone more than six games without a goal.
The new formation also allowed for a tighter defense. By the end of the first half CSUB had only taken three shots, with none of them being on goal.
Cal Poly had another major scoring chance when a CSUB defender was called for a hand-ball in the goal box, setting Cal Poly up for their first penalty kick of the season. The shot was eagerly taken by junior Jake Hustedt.
“I wanted that shot,” Hustedt said. “In the past I’ve seen people miss and (missing) was not something I was going to do. I didn’t feel nervous. Back in club (soccer) I used to take those all the time. It was second nature to me.”
Hustedt was able to score on the penalty, marking the first game all season Cal Poly had scored more than one goal. The goal also made Hustedt the first player to score more than one goal all season.
But CSUB was relentless in the second half, outshooting Cal Poly 13-5 and scoring their first goal in the 63rd minute. CSUB managed to take eight shots in the final 27 minutes of play.
Sophomore goalie Brett Finkelstein was able to stop CSUB’s last offensive push, making five saves in the last half of the game to earn his first win of the season.
“I was really happy with the effort our team put in through all 90 minutes. They pushed it the whole time. This win was definitely a momentum booster,” Finkelstein said.
Cal Poly will play their first Big West conference game of the season this Saturday at 7 p.m. at UC Riverside.