Cal Poly women’s soccer fell 1-0 in a hard-fought matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Sunday. 

The matchup was the Mustangs’ (0-2) home opener, and the Hawkeyes (1-1) were the first Big Ten team they faced since 2017 when they dropped a game to Indiana 3-1 in the Hoosier Challenge Cup.

Sophomore goalkeeper Mary Norman, who earned her first career start in the loss, believes the team can learn a lot from the game.  

“I thought today’s game was a tough challenge for us,” Norman said. “I thought it made us better as a team. Those girls are a lot bigger than us, so it was a good challenge for us to learn.” 

The first half of the matchup was a quiet one, as there were just six total shots and zero goals scored.

The only goal scored on the day came off the head of Iowa’s Josie Durr in the 62nd minute, converting a corner kick play to give them the 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs were outshot 9-6 on the day, but Cal Poly tallied five shots to the four by the Hawkeyes in the second half as they attempted their second-half comeback.

Freshman midfielder Brennan Cole led the team with two shots on goal and played for 80 minutes while sophomore defender Emma Brown and senior defender Kylie Rojas each played the full 90 minutes.

The second-half push came up short for Cal Poly, as the Hawkeyes took the match at the final score of 1-0.

Sophomore defender Aynsley Conner, a Minnoseta transfer, also had her first start for the Mustangs, and she was happy with how her team competed against the Hawkeyes.

“It was a really good game,” Conner said. “Obviously they were a super strong team; they finished fifth in the Big Ten last year. Coming from a Big Ten school myself, it’s exciting to be a part of this and a part of the first game played here against a Big Ten team. Getting to play against a different kind of style, bigger girls, stronger girls challenged us physically and I feel like we responded in a very good way.”

The Mustangs will now look forward to their next matchup against Minnesota, which will be the first time the two programs will have ever played against each other. 

“For Minnesota, we are going to keep preparing how we have been preparing,” Norman said. “We leave to travel on Wednesday, so quick turn over, but we are excited and keeping our heads up and confidence high will help.”

Conner will have a unique experience in Cal Poly’s next matchup, given her career as a Gopher.

“Going into that game for me, I just want to be able to make sure I show up, leave all of the history behind, show up for my team, play my game and focus on myself, Conner said. “Then as a team I think we just need to carry forward the positives that we took away from this game and just add on to that and get some goals… that’s the goal.”

The Mustangs will take on Minnesota on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. to kickoff a five-game road trip.