After losing back-to-back games on the road earlier this week, the Cal Poly women’s soccer team was unable to stop the streak Sunday, losing 1-0 to CSU Northridge.
For the Mustangs, this shutout drops their record to 6-8-1 (1-3-0 Big West) and marks the second time in three games they have been shutout. The Matadors, now 7-3-5 (2-1-1), are one of the best defensive teams in the country this season, and this shutout brings their best-in-country total to 11.
“Right now we don’t really have that confidence, so we are trying to force things a little bit,” head coach Alex Crozier said. “I think it’s just getting back to keep the ball, be patient and if we spread it out enough we can find our holes and we can attack those.”
Freshman goalkeeper Sophia Brown was one of the few bright spots for a Cal Poly team that was outshot 20-11. Brown recorded nine saves in the match and the Mustangs’ defense withstood the Matadors’ first three shots in the first nine minutes of play, including one on goal.
She surrendered only one goal in the 25th minute when CSU Northridge sophomore defender Lindsay Kutscher scored off a rebound following a shot by redshirt junior forward Cynthia Sanchez. Brown kept the Matadors off the scoreboard for the rest of the game, but the Mustangs were unable to find the back of the net against the stifling play of CSU Northridge redshirt junior goalkeeper Jovani McCaskill.
The Mustangs came close to breaking through the Matadors’ defense in the 14th minute on a shot by sophomore forward Ashley Kirchick, but McCaskill was there for the save. Two minutes later freshman forward Megan Demijohn sent a header to the net but again McCaskill made the stop. Cal Poly senior defender Kendra Bonsall also had a good scoring opportunity on a header in the 42nd minute, but McCaskill saved the shot again and recorded her 10th shutout of the year.
The Matadors continued to control the game in the second half and fired the first seven shots after the break. They mostly kept possession of the ball until the 65th minute when the Mustangs had their best offensive push of the match. Demijohn had another shot on goal, but McCaskill swatted the ball over the crossbar.
Less than two minutes later, Cal Poly sophomore midfielder Kelly Kessloff sent a corner kick to the box, setting up senior midfielder Nicole Wheeler for a header that McCaskill also deflected over crossbar. The Matadors were able to control the game from then on, as McCaskill stepped in front of the Mustangs’ final shot on goal in the 76th minute from sophomore defender Chelsea Barry.
“It’s hard to get behind them and we were not able to do that,” Bonsal said. “It just shows that we have to work a little harder and at this point we just need to focus on the next one.”
Streaks have defined the Mustangs’ season so far, as they now have lost three games in a row twice, and won three games in a row once. Despite being in the middle of one of those streaks, Brown is confident the Mustangs’ struggles now will lead to success later.
“We are trying to switch up where certain players are starting, trying to get a new look on the field that will hopefully give us more success,” Brown said. “I think overall we are still trying to get a hang of things, but we are looking good. Our time is coming soon.”
The Blue-Green rivalry returns to Alex G. Spanos Stadium Thursday at 7 p.m. when UC Santa Barbara comes to town.