The Cal Poly men’s soccer team thought it should have had a goal by then, but in the waning minutes against visiting No. 17 UCLA, the Mustangs’ attention turned from pulling the upset to leaving without a loss.
After the second yellow card against Evan Richter ejected the Cal Poly junior midfielder in the 109th minute, the Mustangs had to hold on for the final 1:26, watching a shot by the Bruins’ Ryan Hollingshead drift wide left of the post as time expired and preserving the scoreless double-overtime tie Friday.
“You’re thinking ‘Oh, no. It can’t be. A minute-and-half left?’ ” Mustangs head coach Paul Holocher said. “We’re down a player and they got their last chance because we didn’t have that defensive midfielder, and it created that chance at the very end. Luckily, it went wide.”
Cal Poly (2-2-1) registered a season high in shots (22), outshot the Bruins 4-1 in overtime and pitched its 15th shutout since the start of the 2007 season, but the Mustangs still missed out on their second upset of a top-20 team in as many weeks.
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Cal Poly topped No. 18 Indiana 1-0 in a tournament in South Bend, Ind., last week. The only loss on the season for UCLA (3-1-1) was a 5-1 decision to the Hoosiers.
“We’re playing such a good opponent that you think the game could have gone both ways,” Holocher said, “but we had a number of shots and a number of opportunities to score. So, it’s just a bit bitter sweet, but I’m very, very excited about the support that we got from the community.”
The 8,717 attendance figure was the largest home crowd for the Mustangs against any opponent not named UC Santa Barbara. In the first week with students on campus, the match outdrew both Cal Poly football games and the Mustangs’ women’s soccer match against No. 1 North Carolina last Friday.
It was the 10th-largest regular season crowd in NCAA Division I men’s soccer history, a list in which Cal Poly owns six of the top 16. Players and coach agreed that Friday was a missed opportunity that the crowd did not get to cheer on a signature goal.
Cal Poly junior Patrick Sigler tied a career high with five shots, two on goal, numbers that were matched by senior forward David Zamora.
Zamora snuck a few breakaways behind the Bruins defense but had his best look at a goal negated because of a foul called against him late in the second overtime period.
For Sigler, a 6-foot-4 defender, his came on set pieces.
“I just really, really wanted to score and try hard to get to the ball,” Sigler said. “Tonight, I actually should have had one or two, but that’s just the way it goes.
“It’s frustrating when we have so many chances like that and you can’t get a goal, but it’s not a loss. It’s still a tie, and it looks good against a very good opponent in UCLA.”
While the Mustangs felt they were missing chances on the offensive end, the Cal Poly defense was doing a solid job stopping UCLA’s offense, which hadn’t been shut out all season.
Holocher credited defender Wes Feighner, a converted forward, who had several impressive throw ins and used his speed to track down Bruins players from behind.
“I thought Wes Feighner, our left back, was probably the man of the match,” Holocher said. “Defensively, he was unbelievable. He shut down everything that came his way. There were moments in this game where you thought they had a clear breakaway, and we came up with a big tackle.”
UCLA got off 11 shots in the match, six in the first half, but Cal Poly goalkeeper Patrick McLain came up with the stop every time he needed to, registering four saves and probably none bigger than the diving stop he made against Bruins’ forward Victor Chaves in the 49th minute.
The Mustangs defense has also been bolstered by true freshman Connor Dreschler, who Holocher said wasn’t expected to be as composed as he’s shown in his first few collegiate matches.
“They have a lot of good forwards up there,” Dreschler said of UCLA, “and the key is to stick with them. You just gotta stay with their runners and communicate as best as possible.”