Cal Poly women's soccer is expected to be successful in the upcoming season, according to head coach Alex Crozier. "We've got a good group of players. ... We're in a good rhythm offensively."

Cal Poly women’s soccer (6-3-1) is off to a strong start as they gear up for a run at the 2011 Big West Conference title.

Coming off an injury-plagued 2010 campaign in which the team won its final three games to improve its overall record to 9-9-1, the Mustangs look to improve on their recent four-match unbeaten streak.

Playing its first three matches on the road, Cal Poly posted a 2-1 record before arriving home to play nationally-ranked Santa Clara.  The Mustangs registered their first win of the season by defeating Cincinnati 2-1. The first setback came at the hands of the University of Dayton as the Flyers earned a 3-1 victory over Cal Poly.

After picking up a double-overtime victory against Cal State Bakersfield, Cal Poly dropped a tough 3-0 decision to No. 16 ranked Santa Clara. Since, the Mustangs have gone 4-1-1 including a first-place finish at the Portland State Tournament, and a 4-1 win over the University of Nevada. The Mustangs also collected a well-earned draw against ninth ranked Pepperdine (7-0-3). Cal Poly’s lone strike came from redshirt sophomore Jenny Haggerty in the 62nd minute. The Waves equaled the scoreline with an 88th-minute goal by Anisa Guajardo.

Cal Poly finishes up their non-conference schedule by hosting Fresno State (4-3-2) this Friday night at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. The team will then play a loaded Big West Conference slate with hopes of winning the conference and advancing to the NCAA tournament.

Coach Alex Crozier said the team is prepared for the conference championship.

“We want to win the conference and get to the NCAA tournament,” said Crozier, who is in his 19th year as coach.

Crozier said that in order to make a push for Cal Poly’s eighth Big West title the team will need to make some mid-season adjustments to be more competitive against conference opponents than they were a year ago.

“We’re playing well right now, but we need to improve defensively,” he said. “(We need to) tighten it up in the back and sustain our attack better on offense.”

Junior Cici Kobinski said he agrees that, going forward, the team needs to be more consistent with the ball in the attacking third of the pitch.

“Our biggest focus is moving the ball forward and keeping possession of the ball,” Kobinski said. “We have a lot of different scorers, and we need to keep up that depth.”

For now, the Mustangs are solely focused on upcoming opponent Fresno State.

One of the multiple scorers Kobinski mentions is freshman phenom Sara Lancaster. The forward from Reno, Nevada is the team’s leading scorer with 5 total tallies on the year. Her most recent goal came against Nevada last Friday night.

Lancaster believes communication on the pitch will be integral to the team’s success and will eventually lead to more scores and more wins on the pitch.

“Coming in as a freshmen, it’s tough to know what the other girls want so communication will be important for me and the team to win more games,” Lancaster said.

With only one non-conference match remaining, the Cal Poly women’s soccer team prepares for a tough Big West schedule. Key matchups include those versus Long Beach State (6-3-1) at home on Oct. 2, at rival UC Santa Barbara (4-5-1) Oct. 28, and at UC Irvine (5-2-1) Oct. 9.

Crozier said he believes his squad can go toe-to-toe with any conference opponent and believes the Mustangs are a viable threat for the Big West crown.

“We’ve got a good group of players. We’re in a good rhythm offensively,” Crozier said. “Sara (Lancaster) has 5 goals, and Tiffany (Gummow) is right behind her with 4 and Cristina (Farrington) too. We match up well with everyone in the Big West Conference.”

For now though, the Mustangs are solely focused on upcoming opponent Fresno State. The Bulldogs take a 4-3-2 record into Alex G. Spanos Stadium where Cal Poly is 1-1-1 this year.

“We’re looking forward to Fresno State,” Crozier said. “There’s a lot of parity in women’s soccer right now. We don’t have the luxury to look too far ahead right now.”

Cal Poly’s next eight games will be played against Big West opponents.

The Mustangs open their conference schedule against Cal State Fullerton (4-4-1) on Sept. 30.  The Big West Tournament begins Nov. 3.

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