The Cal Poly women’s soccer team started its weekend off on the right foot by defeating St. Mary’s 2-1 Friday at Mustang Stadium.
After suffering its first loss of the season to No. 6 Santa Clara last Sunday and dropping in the national rankings to No. 23, Cal Poly (7-1-3) was primed to get moving back in the right direction again.
“It’s the biggest game after a loss,” junior forward Kelsey Carroll said. “It shows the morale of the team if we can fight back and not dwell on the past.”
Cal Poly was also gunning for St. Mary’s (5-4-1) as a result of the team’s match last season.
“I was extremely fired up for them because last year we had one of our two losses (during the regular season) against them,” senior goalkeeper Liz Hill said. “I wanted to get revenge this year.”
The Mustangs were first on the scoreboard in the ninth minute when Carroll bypassed the Gael defense deep in Cal Poly territory and found the corner of the net.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the half, St. Mary’s came inches from tying the match. Junior forward Maureen Cindrich snuck through the Cal Poly defense to rattle off a short-range shot on goal. Senior goalkeeper Liz Hill deflected the attempt, but the freshman forward Nikki Schrey was lurking a few feet away. Schrey nearly got her boot on the free ball, but Hill’s diving save kept her from the quick tap in.
Cal Poly had a chance to expand on its lead with less than a minute left in the half with two quick shots by junior forward Sharon Day. Her first shot from inside the box bounced off the side post and her second attempt soared wide. The Mustangs ended the half with a 1-0 lead.
After controlling the match for the beginning of the second half, the Mustangs tallied another goal in the 66th minute, putting them up 2-0. Cal Poly scored when Carroll slashed through the Gaels’ defense to fire her second goal of the match and fourth on the season.
St. Mary’s retaliated eight minutes later when junior forward McKenna Belzer gained possession from a cluster of players near the goal. Belzer chipped a shot over Hill’s head and in to the net just as she encroached the group.
Belzer’s goal started a St. Mary’s comeback where the Gaels threatened to score on several attempts, but the Mustang defense held strong.
“They were very direct, pounding balls down there, hoping something would happen,” Cal Poly coach Alex Crozier said. “We cracked a little bit, but I thought we stayed pretty composed.”
Sierra Simmons, two-time Big West Defensive Player of the Year, and senior midfielder Sarah Squires led Cal Poly defensively with their highlight-reel caliber footwork and by clearing St Mary’s offensive attacks back into Mustang territory.
“You always have to be afraid for the worst, but I know our defense would fight through no matter what,” Carroll said. “We always battle strong.”
After the match, St. Mary’s head coach Paul Sapsford was congratulatory of Cal Poly and praised his girls for playing hard.
“It was end-to-end and a very close game,” Sapsford said. “I’m particularly proud of our girls. We didn’t capitulate after going two nil down. We kept battling and came back. We deserved to get a goal and were unlucky not to get the equalizer.”
Cal Poly 2, UC Davis 0
The lady Mustangs’ winning streak rolled through the weekend after defeating UC Davis 2-0 at Mustang Stadium on Sunday.
Cal Poly (8-1-3) scored first against the Aggies (3-6-2) when junior forward Carroll passed across the box to junior defender Alix Cohen, who kicked the ball in to the opposite corner of the net. The goal was Cohen’s second of the season.
The Aggies had a good chance to respond off two consecutive corner kicks during the 33rd minute, but came up empty on both attempts.
Freshman speedster forward Ashley Vallis scored early in the second half to put the Mustangs up 2-0. During the 49th minute, Vallis received an inbounds pass in Cal Poly territory. She then wheeled through the Aggie defense for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
“In the first half we were playing down to UC Davis’ level,” junior defender Kim Yackzan said. “We had to come out and play more direct and tougher- (In the second half) we played together rather than relying on booting it up.”