Cal Poly women’s soccer came up short against UC Irvine 2-0 in the final game of the regular season on Sunday, Oct. 31 at Anteater Stadium.

Entering the match, the Mustangs (12-7-0, 8-2-0 Big West) held a three-point lead over the Anteaters (13-5-0, 8-2-0 Big West) in the Big West conference standings, only needing a tie to solidify a first-place finish. However, the Anteaters had other plans and, with the UC Irvine win, the two squads split the regular season champion title.

The regular season title is the first for Cal Poly since 2013.

In the seventh minute, Irvine freshman Desiree Mendoza’s header found the top left corner of the Mustang’s goal off a corner kick, setting the tone for the Anteaters early and giving them a 1-0 lead. 

The conference powerhouses went back and forth for the rest of the half, with neither one having another great chance on goal. Junior midfielder Megan Hansen had the only two shots on goal for the Mustangs in the half, both saved by Anteater goalkeeper Glo Hinojosa. 

UC Irvine came out of the halftime locker room pressing and gaining offensive opportunities, scoring within ten minutes for the second time in the match. 

Redshirt sophomore Destinee Manzo picked up the bouncing ball inside the 18-yard box and struck a rocket into the back of the Mustangs’ goal in the 53 minute, extending the lead to 2-0. 

With only two shots on net the whole game, both coming off of corner kicks, the Anteaters made the most of them. 

The next twenty minutes of game time saw more of the same back-and-forth play by both teams.

As time started to dwindle, the Mustangs became very aggressive as they looked for some source of momentum. With less than twenty minutes left, the Mustangs pushed with great scoring opportunities by sophomore defenseman Kylie Rojas and redshirt junior midfielder Sidra Bugsch. However, both were turned away by UC Irvine’s defense.

The defense for the Anteaters held on to win 2-0 and take the right to host the Big West Conference Tournament from the Mustangs. 

Cal Poly will face off against Cal State Fullerton on Thursday, Nov. 4 at UC Irvine for the semifinal round of the Big West Tournament. Should the Mustangs win this matchup, they would play for the Big West Conference championship on Sunday, Nov. 7.

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