The Big West season is in full swing as both the Cal Poly men’s and women’s soccer teams prepare for a pair of conference showdowns this weekend. The men’s soccer team (6-4, 1-1 Big West) takes on Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine at home, a week after a defeat at the hands of UC Riverside in overtime, while the women’s team (5-5-1, 2-0-0) travels to play UC Irvine and Long Beach State.
“We were disappointed that we lost in overtime,” head coach Paul Holocher said. “We definitely had played well enough to win, anytime you lose in overtime it’s crushing.”
The Mustangs look to continue to make progress with their new possession based game plan.
“The focus of this year has been developing our style of play,” Holocher said. “A lot of times in college soccer it’s a high transition, very direct set piece game, but we’re trying to change that.”
Holocher said the team’s style of play has received compliments from opposing coaches as well as fans. Logan Spittler, who is a graphic communication junior, in addition to being the starting goalkeeper for the Cal Poly club soccer team was also pleased with the team’s style of play.
“Their ability to keep the ball is probably their biggest strength,” Spittler said. “The way they move the ball around the pitch and hold possession always gives them a chance to win.”
Friday’s matchup against Cal State Northridge features two squads with similar styles of play.
“Both teams are really committed to how they play,” Holocher said. “It’s gonna be a game with a lot of passing and a lot of great movement.”
Cal State Northridge is also looking to rebound from a difficult defeat after losing in double overtime to Sacramento State.
Cal Poly looks to improve its 4-1 record at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Taking advantage of home matches is imperative in the talented Big West, according to Holocher, who said he believes the conference is in the top three in the country.
UC Irvine is currently riding a five-game losing streak and will play undefeated No.3 UC Santa Barbara (7-0-3, 1-0-1 Big West) before Sunday’s match against Cal Poly.
“They’re kind of going through a little rough patch right now,” Holocher said. “But they’re fantastic players and can beat any team in the country.”
For the women’s team, the Mustangs started off conference play with two home victories last weekend against Pacific and UC Davis.
The season got off to a difficult start. However, the Mustangs are undefeated in conference play and the outlook for the rest of the year looks more positive.
“We’re in a good spot but we’ve got a really tough weekend ahead of us, so we have have some work to do,” head coach Alex Crozier said.
Injuries have made an impact on the season so far with the loss of freshman midfielder Breanna Rittmann who Crozier described as the “quarterback on the field” for the team. As a result, Crozier has had to make some adjustments and has been forced to alter the team’s style of play.
UC Irvine is 6-7-0 (2-0-0) this season. Crozier expects a tough matchup despite the squads difficulties at home, where the Anteaters are just 1-3.
“They’re a very physical team, very athletic and organized,” he said. “It’s a tough team to break down so we need to be patient in our attack.”
Crozier doesn’t plan on letting his team become complacent after its positive start to Big West play.
“It’s a great start to the conference play, but there’s still seven more games to play,” he said. “So we’ll just take one game at a time and keep plugging away and hopefully we’ll get it done.”