Whitney Sisler was out there.
But it wasn’t the same Sisler — the senior forward who’s scored a team-leading six goals for the Cal Poly women’s soccer team — at Alex G. Spanos Stadium during the Mustangs’ 2-0 loss to Cal State Northridge on Sunday.
“I don’t feel the way I was feeling before,” said Sisler, who missed two games after injuring her ankle against Weber State on Sept 19 and hasn’t scored since.
“A girl tackled right through my leg. I was on crutches for five days I just don’t feel normal. It’s not terrible. I just can’t move the way I’m used to moving.”
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And Bianca Burright, the only other Cal Poly player to net more than one goal this season was present in spirit but bound to crutches during a critical two game swing that also included a 3-0 loss to UC Irvine on Friday.
Both players are nursing injuries at an inopportune time for the Mustangs (6-7-1, 1-2-1 Big West Conference), who are mired in an offensive rut right in the heart of Big West play.
“The two teams we played were good, and that had something to do with it,” head coach Alex Crozier said, “but whether I like to admit it or not, injures to players at different times is starting to take effect a little bit.”
Since Sisler and Burright began cycling in and out of the lineup — Burright with a hip injury — Cal Poly is just 2-3-1 overall and has scored just three goals during that span. The Mustangs were outscored 5-0 this weekend.
Sisler and Burright, who also has three assists, have combined for 23 shots on goal and are the only two Cal Poly players to have double digits in that stat category. Crozier said he is confident other players can score, but the loss of the duo is a shock to team that has relied on them for scoring chances.
“Those two combine really well together,” Crozier said. “Bianca’s able to find Whitney, so it changes how they need to play because they’re playing with different players. The other players are playing well, but it’s just a different combination. The combination of Bianca and Whitney works. We just don’t have that right now.”
Cici Kobinski had a team-high two shots on goal against the Matadors (8-6-0, 3-1-0 Big West) and had Cal Poly’s only real chance at a score. Morgan Miller had a goal called back on a foul in the 7th minute.
Kobinski tried to go high across the net past Cal State Northridge keeper Cynthia Jacobo for what would have been the equalizer late in the first half, but Jacobo was able to make the diving save.
“The runs are there, and the ideas are there,” Kobinski said. “It’s just the final connections we need to get. It’s the last little bit.“We know what we need to do, start pinging the ball and moving around a little bit more.”
Sonia Espitia opened scoring with a shot similar to Kobinski’s in the 21st minute that was just beyond the reach of Mustang goalkeeper Brooke Gauvin, who finished with four saves.
Espitia got an assist in the 77th minute when she crossed a ball from the right side to Stephanie Galarze, who headed the ball in front of the net, where Desiree Cardenas finished past Gauvin.
The win moved the Matadors into second place in the conference standings. Cal Poly remained in fifth. Had the Mustangs been able to knock off UC Irvine on Friday and get a win over Cal State Northridge, they would have been on their way to another top-two seed in the Big West Tournament and a shot at a second straight regular-season conference title.
With four matches left in the conference season, Cal Poly will have to turn things around quickly. Sisler continues to recover, and Crozier said he hopes Burright can be back on the field for next weekend’s homestand against Pacific and non-conference foe Seattle.
“Now, it’s pretty much we need to win every game just to get one of the four spots in the tournament,” Crozier said. “Before the weekend, we were hoping to play well, win two games and looking to get a good seed, but now we’re just fighting for our lives.”
Said Kobinski: “We can’t go soft anymore. There’s no time to rest. We just have to go as hard as possible.”
FOOTBALLMustangs earn weekend honors
After a three-week drought for Cal Poly (4-2), two Mustangs football players were awarded Great West Conference Player of the Week honors after Saturday’s 50-37 victory at Old Dominion.
After racking up a career-high 16 tackles against the Monarchs, Cal Poly linebacker Marty Mohamed was named Defensive Player of the Week for the second time this season, and kicker Jake West, who was 3 of 3 on field goals and 5 of 6 on PATs, was the Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
West, a former Atascadero High standout, hit on field goal tries from 26, 28 and 31 yards, and Mohamed also forced and recovered a fumble midway through the fourth quarter.
The conference’s offensive player of the week was Southern Utah receiver Tysson Poots, who had 13 receptions for 210 yards and a touchdown in a 31-21 win at North Dakota and has always given Mustangs defensive backs trouble.
Cal Poly travels to play the Thunderbirds in its Great West opener Saturday.
WOMEN’S TENNISCal Poly wraps up UCSB Invite
Sophomore Alexa Lee and freshmen Jennifer Cornea, Gabrielle Gatewood and former St. Joseph High standout Ané McPike all picked up singles wins for the Cal Poly women’s tennis team on the final day of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational, where the Mustangs also won two of three doubles matches.
Lee beat Denver’s Sophia Berger, who retired with an injury in Flight A. Cornea beat UC Santa Barbara’s Michelle Murphy 6-0, 6-3 in Flight B, where Gatewood later beat Eastern Washington’s Ryann Warner 6-4, 6-2. McPike won a 6-1, 6-1 Flight C match over UC Santa Barbara’s Samantha Chou.
Lee and freshman Florence Lehane topped Gauchos duo Murphy and Chou 9-7 in doubles, and freshman Kathryn Webb and senior Ashley Pane rallied for an 8-1 doubles victory over UC Santa Barbara’s Kiersten Meehan and Jordan Dockendorf.
WRESTLINGCuesta College at Modesto Junior College Tournament
The Cougars had three wrestlers place in the top six and took seventh place out of 17 teams in Modesto in the tournament that ended late Saturday night.
Spencer Anderson took second place at 157 pounds, the top finisher for Cuesta. Jonathon Gay (133 pounds) and Nestor Ruelas (149 pounds) each took sixth place.
Cuesta competes at the Southern Dual Championships at Palomar College on Saturday.