The Cal Poly women’s soccer team won its first Big West Conference game against visiting UC Irvine by a 1-0 score in double overtime Friday night.
The 426 fans packed into the bleachers at the Sports Complex went wild when sophomore forward Ashley Vallis ended the 0-0 score on an assist from Kaleena Andruss.
“I always expect something from the box,” Vallis said of the game-winner after the Mustangs stormed the field in happiness. “I anticipated the shot and just followed through.”
This being the Anteaters’ first Big West Conference game as well, both teams were unwilling to give a goal away so easily.
Cal Poly (7-5, 1-0) dominated the field in the first half, making good use of the field with long, clean passes, slowing down the pace of the game and leaving the Anteaters (3-8, 0-1) defending their side.
The Anteaters warded off 14 shots while the Mustangs blocked eight shots on their side. However, UC Irvine had more shots on goal compared to Cal Poly, 6-4.
UC Irvine goalkeeper Erin Henry kept the Anteaters in the game when she caught a shot taken by Cal Poly midfielder Meggie O’Hagan at the end of the second half from 25 yards out.
Equally, Cal Poly goalkeeper Alli Tramel in the last minute of the second half made a game-saving snatch from a corner kick taken by UC Irvine.
“We had the positioning, we just didn’t finish our chances,” Cal Poly junior midfielder Erica Leger said of the first 15 minutes of overtime.
By the time the second overtime session, both teams were still intense.
“It was a great ball game,” Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said.
UC Irvine had six players attempt shots.
“We had just as many chances,” said UC Irvine defender Lauryn Birkinshaw, who had one shot on goal. “(Cal Poly) got a lucky break on us at the end.”
Before the game, Crozier said the Mustangs are getting a good rhythm in their strategy to attack and remain in control of the ball.
“We are getting better each week and should be peaking toward the end of the season,” he said. “We play very good soccer and it’s exciting to watch.”