Cal poly awaits the NCAA selection show on Monday for a tournament berth. Photo by Nick Camacho- Mustang Daily
Cal poly awaits the NCAA selection show on Monday for a tournament berth. Photo by Nick Camacho- Mustang Daily

The Cal Poly women’s soccer team’s season comes to an end after penalty kicks once again. The Mustangs lost to UC Santa Barbara in the Big West Conference Championship in a shootout at Alex G. Spanos Stadium Sunday.

The Gauchos will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Cal Poly still has a shot to get into the tournament if they receive an at-large bid. The tournament brackets will be decided today at 5 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN News.

UCSB, the No. 3 seed, won two road games to claim the tournament championship, having first beat CSU Northridge 2-1 in Thursday’s semifinal.

“I think (Cal Poly is) on the outside looking in,” Santa Barbara head coach Paul Stumpf said. “Do I think they are a playoff caliber team? Yes.”

The Mustangs were first to get on the board Sunday when Morgan Miller got her second goal of the tournament in the 40th minute. After a series of passes between Tiffany Gummow and Bianca Burright on the left side of the field, Burright crossed the ball into the box, where it deflected off a UCSB defender to Miller, who put the ball past the goalie into the lower-right corner.

“I think the team played with a lot of heart,” Miller said. “I think we all really wanted this game.”

Stumpf said it would be hard to score points against the Mustangs and told his players that their defense had to be in top form to win.

“We’re gonna have to keep them under two because they are not gonna give up three,” Stumpf said.

The Gauchos evened the score in the 69th minute with a goal from Katy Roby. Roby received the ball in the middle of the field on the Mustang’s end and dribbled into the box and fired one past Mustang goalkeeper Coral Hoover from about 13 yards out. It was the first goal scored on Hoover and the Cal Poly defense since Oct. 4. The Mustangs hadn’t allowed a goal in 747 minutes, the longest streak in school history.

Hoover said she knows that she will get scored on every once and a while, and that knowledge helps her to be successful in the goal.

Both teams continued to have chances in the match but were unable to connect. UCSB’s Genelle Ives could have had a second goal for the Gauchos but was out of position when a cross came across the front of the net and hit her in the back of the leg.

Cal Poly, who scored both goals on set plays against UC Irvine, was unable to take advantage of the 11 corner kicks or the 10 free kicks they were awarded.

“We had our chances, and we just weren’t able to put the second goal in,” Miller said.

Neither team had a shot on goal in either overtime period but Cal Poly had a good opportunity in the 116th minute when Kristina Condon-Sherwood, who leads the team in assists, took a free kick from 39 yards out and put it just over the head of Julianne Grinstead.

Stumpf said that while they did want to win the game in overtime, he was confident that his team would be able to win in a shootout.

“I felt coming up here (Cal Poly) had a pretty good shot at it,” he said. “I felt like once we get to PKs the chances really kinda change to like 60-40 maybe in our favor.”

The Gauchos switched their goalie for the shootout, replacing Tammy Lenham with Ali Cutler. Cal Poly’s Whitney Sisler took the first penalty kick in the shootout and shot one just outside of the left post. One miss was all the Gauchos needed ,scoring on all five of their attempts, while Cal Poly was able to score on the other four shots.

Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said he thought his team played well but felt helpless during the shootout.

“Penalty kicks is just a crap shoot really,” he said.

Cal Poly was the No. 1 seed in the tournament after claiming the Big West regular season championship with a conference record of 7-1. The Mustangs defeated UC Irvine 2-0 at home Thursday evening to get to the tournament finals.

The Mustang’s season will be over if they do not receive an invitation to the tournament. Hoover said that going to the NCAA Tournament was one of the team goals at the beginning of the season.

“I’m crossing my fingers big, and I am praying and hoping, and I think the team deserves it with what we’ve done this season,” Miller said.

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