Two weekend tune-ups remain for the Cal Poly women’s soccer team before Big West Conference play begins Oct. 3 at Cal State Fullerton. The first of those comes at 7 tonight when the Mustangs (4-5) host Utah State.
The Aggies (4-5-1), who left the Big West in 2005, were picked to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll.
Utah State will be led by sophomore forward Lauren Hansen, who has four goals, nine points and 24 shots – all team highs – despite starting only six of the Aggies’ 10 games this year.
Cal Poly has historically dominated the play between the two former Big West rivals, compiling an 8-1 all-time record. The teams last met in Utah in 2004 in a 3-1 win for the Mustangs.
“Utah State we haven’t seen for quite a few years – since they left the Big West,” Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said. “They’re well-coached and they have good players, so they’re going to be good to get ready for conference.”
Utah State is winless on the road this year at 0-4.
The Mustangs just returned from their own road trip, which included two games at the Santa Clara Adidas Classic, where they beat Santa Clara and fell to No. 6 Stanford.
The win over Santa Clara was Cal Poly’s first in 17 tries against the perennial soccer power.
“We played two very good teams,” Crozier said. “We got exposed in a couple of areas, which was good, so we can address that this week and then get ready for the opening game in-conference.”
Cal Poly will host Utah (3-5-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Crozier said that the two games leading into conference action are a crucial build-up to improving on last year’s third-place Big West finish.
“We need to play well both of these games this weekend so we have that momentum,” he said. “These games are huge for us.”
Playing tight games against nationally ranked competition like Stanford has helped the players gain confidence, Crozier added.
“Our record is not quite .500 yet, but our players now believe they’re going to win every game they’re going to be in,” he said. “So that was one thing we’ve accomplished the last couple weeks. I want to continue that.”