Cal Poly women's soccer forward Elise Krieghoff participated in the U.S. Soccer Under-23 Women's National Team training camp this month. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Samantha Pryor/Mustang News

In the face of adversity, Cal Poly women’s soccer rose to the occasion and played one of their better games defensively against Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference tournament, sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff said.

The Cal Poly women’s soccer team is working through its loss against Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 7, which eliminated the team from the Big West Conference tournament and ended its season.

After scoring the first goal of the game, the team eventually fell to after a nail-biting series of penalty kicks. Despite the dissatisfying loss, the Mustangs regrouped and appreciated their hard work during the season.

Despite the loss, everyone on the team played well, assistant coach Kathleen Lemieux said.

“We fought for everything and we couldn’t have done anything more,” she said. “It just happened to be the result wasn’t there.”

Defensive back Jordan Ansara, one of the starting players, was forced to the sidelines after an injury and the women had to adjust quickly by replacing her with other players who were not used to playing that position.

In the face of adversity, however, the team rose to the occasion and played one of its better games defensively, sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff said.

“We were able to keep them out of our net,” she said. “It is something we failed to do most of this season and we did a good job regardless of who was playing there.”

Krieghoff’s Big West Player of the Year campaign that saw her score 21 goals — the 3rd most in the nation — speaks volumes of the hard work her team has accomplished, she said.

“It lets me know that I am doing my job individually, but it also tells me if I’m able to get these individual awards, my team is doing some great things,” Krieghoff said. “I can’t score on my own.”

In addition to Krieghoff, captain and senior midfielder Haley Walker showed a lot of heart throughout the match, Lemieux said. She worked hard tackling, which set the tone for the other women.

“I lead by example,” Walker said. “I try and keep everyone together when things are hectic.”

The penalty kicks created a tense environment. The uncertainty of the outcome was nerve-wracking, knowing one kick can change the outcome of the game, Walker said.

Not having the advantage of playing on their home field with a home crowd added to the tension.

Krieghoff knew she was going to take a penalty kick because of her experience in previous attempts. The team had worked on penalty kicks the week prior, and she was mentally confident before stepping up to the goal line. Krieghoff buried her attempt, but other Mustangs weren’t as fortunate.

“They had a lot of fans taunting us and a really good goalkeeper that was able to save two goals,” she said.

The Matadors converted each of their attempts and won the shootout.

Cal Poly will host the conference tournament next year, but the women must finish in one of the top four spots in the Big West to play be included. If the team earns its way to play in the tournament, being at home will give them a boost and hopefully a win, Lemieux said.

No matter where they’re playing, though, the team creates a “positive environment,” head coach Alex Crozier said.

“The chemistry is good,” he said. “They work hard on field and get along well off the field.”

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