Cal Poly women’s soccer regained first place in the Big West Conference with a 3-2 overtime victory over UC San Diego on Sunday, Oct. 17 inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The extraordinary year for the Mustangs (10-6, 6-1 Big West) continued as they jumped UC Santa Barbara in the standings once again to take a two-point lead. Meanwhile, the Tritons’ (4-8-2, 2-3-1 Big West) rocky season continued with the loss.
A first half dominated by the Mustangs was followed by a troubling second, but the familiar names of sophomore forward Nikki Trucco, sophomore midfielder Camille Lafaix and sophomore forward Olivia Ortiz led the Mustangs offense to victory.
Head coach Alex Crozier spoke about the three players and their play so far.
“At the beginning of the season I would not have told you it would be those three,” Crozier said. “But they are finding a way to get it done for the team.”
The first half scoring started before fans could even settle in, as Trucco found the back of the net 30 seconds into the match after a turnover by the Tritons’ goaltender in the box. Her ninth of the year, which is second in the Big West, etched her name into the Cal Poly record book, tieing Patty Teal for quickest goal in program history.
The myriad of offensive pressure continued for the Mustangs, totalling eight shots in the first half. Ortiz and senior defender Danielle Anderson both had great looks on net late in the half, but they were turned away to keep the score 1-0.
The momentum carried over for the Mustangs to start the second half when Ortiz put a rocket of a shot into the bottom right corner to give the Mustangs a 2-0 lead in the 53rd minute.
“I black out when I make goals so I don’t really remember it,” Ortiz said. “It’s awesome scoring and hearing everyone cheering and playing for the team.”
Ortiz got the look off a corner by junior defender Emily Talmi and a headed back pass from Anderson.
UC San Diego would not go away easily, however, mounting 30 minutes of dominant soccer that resulted in two goals to cap off regulation.
Suddenly, a game that was all Cal Poly for 60 minutes now was squared up at 2-2 in the 76th minute.
“They were a difficult team to play,” said Crozier. “But overall we found a way to win the game and so I’m happy about that.”
For the second time this year, the Mustangs were headed to extra time and for the second time, it was Lafaix putting the winner into the back of the net.
A diving right-footed strike by Lafaix in the 99th minute solidified the Mustangs with the victory.
The score came off of Ortiz’s sixth assist of the year, which puts her at second place in the conference.
“We were teasing the crowd by waiting until overtime to get that third one in,” Lafaix said. “But it feels good to take back first place.”
The Mustangs ended the game with a 20-9 shot advantage, 11 being on target. Cal Poly also dominated possession time, holding the ball for 62% of the time.
Cal Poly will now turn around and face-off against rival UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. inside Harder Stadium.
The Mustangs currently hold a two-point advantage in the standings, but with wins being worth three points, the victor will leave the stadium with an outright lead in the Big West.
“We’re just really pumped up,” Ortiz said, “It’s always a really tough and scrappy game when we play them, but we’re ready and super pumped to keep first place.”