The Cal Poly men’s soccer team’s hopes of an at-large bid to the NCAA College Cup were dashed today when the selection committee announced the 48 teams for the 49th annual Division I Men’s Soccer Championship.
The Mustangs were ranked No. 31 in the latest RPI standings and third overall in the Big West Conference behind UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis.
“This is a conference that deserves three teams in almost every year,” head coach Paul Holocher said. “It deserved three this year. I’m really proud of this team – they’re heartbroken right now, just heartbroken.”
In his second season at the helm, Holocher has brought his team to an overall mark of 11-4-4 and a Big West Conference record of 6-3-4.
Winning 11 games this season is something that hadn’t been done in men’s soccer at Cal Poly since 1995, when the Mustangs made it to the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The highlight of the team’s season was its 2-1 victory over defending national champion and current Big West champion UC Santa Barbara. The 7,143 fans in attendance broke the previous school record of 2,694, set on Nov. 2, 1996 as Cal Poly fell 2-1 against UCLA.
Although he was upset about the bracket results, Holocher expressed his aspirations for next season.
“I expect to win,” he said. “I work very hard, our coaches work very hard and the players respond to that. We want to win Big West Championships and compete for national championships. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen.”
Junior goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco said, “We aren’t going anywhere. Coach Holocher isn’t going to stop until he gets a national championship.”