The magnitude of Elise Krieghoff’s accomplishments is becoming too big to ignore, and the Cal Poly women’s soccer sophomore forward literally came face-to-face with one Friday night — a face she’d previously only known in bronze.
The Mustangs’ 1-0 victory over Cal State Fullerton, won on Krieghoff’s program record 17th goal of the season, was significant because it moved Cal Poly all alone into first place in the Big West Conference going into Sunday’s home contest against second-place UC Riverside.
There was also a gathering of alumni, and former single-season scoring record-holder Kolleen Kassis (McNamee) was there to see her first Mustangs match of the year. Krieghoff eclipsed the Cal Poly Hall of Famer’s old mark of 15 last week, and after the Mustangs broke their postgame huddle Friday, the prolific shooters met for the first time at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
“I didn’t know what to say,” Krieghoff said. “I’m, like, just so honored to meet you.” Krieghoff is well aware of the plaque honoring McNamee that hangs in the halls of Mott Athletics Center.
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“I can’t believe I’m in that range,” said Krieghoff, who led the Big West with 11 goals as the conference freshman of the year last season.
“I honestly didn’t expect it to go this well for me this season for me individually. I thought maybe I’d be more of a contributor, have more assists this year.”
Instead, Krieghoff has been among the national leaders in goals all year and was the national leader for awhile. She ranks second today, sitting one behind Illinois’ Jannelle Flaws.
Krieghoff surpassed McNamee, who set the original mark in the program’s inaugural season in 1992. Head coach Alex Crozier has guided the team since the beginning, and appreciates Krieghoff as one of the great ones.
“She’s a good player,” Crozier said, “and there’s players that are as good as her, but to be able to just find the back of the net, it’s a little Wayne Gretzky-ish. Kind of knowing where to be, how to play, and she’s good at connecting with her teammates and all those other things. Then when she gets that opportunity, she just has ice in her veins.”
The match was scoreless into the 51st minute, when Cal Poly freshman forward Megan Abutin attempted a cross from the right side of the box, and Cal State Fullerton defender Kellie Bohner was whistled for a hand ball after she dove to deflect the pass.
Krieghoff converted the penalty kick moments later. It was her first of the season and the first of the year for the Mustangs, too. Krieghoff had been turned away in her only previous penalty kick this year during a 4-0 loss to Baylor.
Perhaps surprisingly to spectators, Krieghoff said she tried to defer to Abutin and others on the kick, but her teammates had faith in her to take the shot.
“She’s definitely not selfish on the field at all,” said sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Giannetti, Krieghoff’s roommate in a house she shares with several other players. “She wants the ball in the back of the net, and if another player is in position to do that, she’s obviously going to give them the ball. She just wants the betterment of the team.
“It’s awesome being able to play with the leading scorer in the nation and being such a good friend, too.”
Giannetti got her sixth shutout of the season, which is the most since the Mustangs also recorded six in 2010.
With two saves, she moved into fifth on the program’s all-time list and increased her career total to 188. Cal Poly’s defense ended up outperforming the Titans defense, which came into the match with a Big West-leading 0.73 goals against average.
“It takes the whole team to get a shutout,” Giannetti said. “It’s not just me or my back line. It’s all of us giving 100 percent. All it takes is one little letdown or anything, and it just shows how flawless our defense has been playing.”
Giannetti and the Mustangs were under fire early but benefitted from two wide shots by Cal State Fullerton.
A fifth-minute foul by Cal Poly set up a free kick for the Titans from just outside the penalty area. On the ensuing play, the ball ricocheted to wide-open Titans midfielder Chelsey Patterson directly in front of the goal, but her shot went left of the post.
Giannetti was forced to leap up and knock the ball away twice during a flurry of shots in the eighth minute, and in the 12th, Cal State Fullerton forward Morgan Batcheller found another rebound centered in front of the net but again pushed a shot wide right.
“It was just balls banging around like a ping-pong match for a while,” Crozier said. “But once we started connecting with some passes and generating some kind of rhythm in the attack, it was a little easier to deal with. They’re solid defensively, and we had a hard time cracking that.”