Lauren Rabaino

Patrick Sigler is no stranger to college soccer.

Although the freshman for the Cal Poly men’s soccer team redshirted last year after breaking his foot and is just beginning his career as a center back for the Mustangs, he is following in the footsteps of his three siblings who all played college soccer, including C.J., who played for Cal Poly from 2000 to 2002.

“(Sigler) is a threat in the attacking set pieces,” Mustangs head coach Paul Holocher says. “He’s got some good ability in the air and good timing. So that’s a great asset for us. He’ll be better (than C.J.).”

Sigler helped lead Cardinal Newman High School to a No. 1 national ranking in 2004, was the California Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005 and was an NSCAA All-American in 2005 and 2006.

He’s already made a name for himself at Cal Poly, leading the Mustangs in goals (four) and points (nine) entering a home match-up with UC Riverside at 7 tonight in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Windsor native was named to the College Team of the Week after he scored in the 31st and 61st minutes of a 2-1 upset over then-No. 23 New Mexico on Sept. 14.

“He’s a very smart kid,” Cal Poly senior goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco says. “He knows how to position himself well. You’d think with that long hair he’s relaxed, but he’s an intense player out there. If he keeps his head on straight and keeps on working hard, I think he can probably be one of the best defenders in the country.”

The Sept. 14 win was especially memorable for Sigler, he says, because two days earlier, he “lost the game” against Missouri State.

“That (win) kind of just picked up my confidence again and kept my head on straight,” he says. “I hope to contribute a presence on the field.”

Cal Poly assistant coach Ziggy Korytoski says that hasn’t been a problem so far.

“He’s a fantastic player, person and strong character,” Korytoski says. “(He) loves to compete and is just first-class in everything. He’s got all the tools to be a very talented player, (yet) there is not a hint of arrogance that goes with it.”

Sure enough, after walking off the field following a 3-2, comeback, double-overtime win over Cal State Bakersfield on Sept. 24, Sigler – called by Korytoski “down-to-earth” and “very approachable” – leaned down to greet an eager young fan.

“Anytime,” Sigler cheerfully said as the boy asked for his autograph.

Although he played hard – the trickle of blood running down his leg attesting to that – he admitted he still has some work to do.

“I want to try to play professionally but I’ve got a lot of work to do and I think being here is going to help me out a lot to get to where I want to be.”

Unlike many of his teammates majoring in kinesiology, Sigler chose to study wine and viticulture. He says that if soccer doesn’t work out, he would like to open his own winery. But Holocher says he thinks soccer can work out just fine for Sigler if he maintains his work ethic.

“I want him to be able to balance about how well he can become a defender and organize and lead the back line,” Holocher says. “He’s young, and so that vocal presence, leadership and maturity still needs to be developed. The more games he gets, that’s how he gains his strengths.”

Korytoski also has no doubts about Sigler’s potential.

“He’s very coachable – he puts the time in,” Korytoski says. “He continues to develop as a player and in how he reads the game. I think he’s making good progress to come in as a freshman to a program on the verge of cracking the top 25 again. He’s a big force.”

Indeed, Sigler’s admiration for his coaches and his teammates comes across when he speaks of them, noting that they were the reason he chose Cal Poly – where forward David Zamora proved freshmen could contribute immediately by winning Big West Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2007.

“I came and met the players (and coaches) and fell in love with (the program) right when I met them,” he says.

Mustangs junior defender Josh Didion says Sigler’s smarts make him invaluable.

“He’s an intelligent player (with) his body movement, his communication with others (and) just being a leader on the field,” Didion says.

Korytoski agrees, adding that Sigler is exactly the kind of player that coaches dream of.

“There’s a certain image that comes to us, and a coach wants his team to play like it, and when a player fits that image through hard work, you tip your hat to him,” Korytoski says. “And then you demand more of him and I think that he’s up to that challenge.”

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