The Cal Poly men’s soccer team seemed poised to break onto the national scene.
The Mustangs were starting to receive some recognition in national polls, building momentum and racking up goals in a six-game unbeaten streak when they stumbled Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Pacific, a first-year program that had been dormant since 1985.
Still ranking 10th in the nation with 16 goals, Cal Poly (5-2-1) has yet to receive votes in the NCAA’s official NSCAA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Whether the Mustangs can win over some voters could depend on how they perform Friday at 8 p.m. against Drake and next Thursday against No. 4 UC Irvine (5-0-1) in the Big West Conference-opener.
“The first thing is just the team’s response,” junior midfielder Matt Lagrassa said. “It’s been a long time since we faced a loss, and last time we lost a game, the first game of the season, we had an excellent response, won 3-1 at NC State. So, hopefully, we have something similar Friday night against Drake.”
Cal Poly lost its season-opener, a 4-3 defeat at Davidson, but went on to win five of the next six, which also included a scoreless draw against No. 1 UCLA.
Along with the result against the Bruins, the Mustangs also tied No. 15 Cal 1-1 in a preseason exhibition. The draw with the Bears may not count on either team’s record, but it’s part of what’s helped Cal Poly build its confidence a s a team.
“We feel like we’re a top team,” Lagrassa said, “and every time we play, we feel like it’s an opportunity to prove that we’re a top team. We expect to be winning the games that we’ve won now so far, and we fully believe we’re capable of putting together streaks like that.”
Scorers recognize goals
Cal Poly women’s soccer coach Alex Crozier said he wasn’t thinking about the Mustangs’ single-game scoring record as he watched junior forward Elise Krieghoff tie the mark with five goals in a 6-1 victory over Fresno State on Friday.
But when Crozier, who has coached Cal Poly since the women’s soccer program’s inception in 1992, got a call from former Mustangs star Kolleen McNamee this weekend, Cal Poly’s all-time scoring leader rattled off the record instantly.
“I mentioned that Elise got five goals on Friday,” Crozier said, “and she knew right away it was Wendy Jones, Southern California College, five goals in a game we won 16 to nothing or something like that.
“There’s people out there that are aware of that stuff.”
It was 1993 when Jones scored her five goals against Vanguard, which back then was known as Southern California College.
McNamee, who also underwent a name change, starred on Cal Poly’s first four teams from 1992 to 1995. As Kolleen Kassis, McNamee scored 45 goals in her career.
The career scoring mark is the next hurdle left for Krieghoff, who set the program single-season record with 21 goals last season. Krieghoff is second with 40 career goals.
“You’re always looking for goal-scorers,” Crozier said. “We have a goal-scorer. These games are tight, especially when you get into conference.
Everything’s pretty even, but if you have a goal-scorer that gives you that one-up it’s huge. “She’s a special player, and she’s getting better and better by the week.”
Mustangs finding groove
After opening the season with a 1-4 mark on the road, the Cal Poly volleyball team has evened its record at 5-5 as the program continues to adjust to a team half full of true freshmen.
Head coach Sam Crosson has tinkered with lineup combinations early on, even playing as many as six freshmen on the court at once.
A 3-2 loss to Santa Clara punctuated a 4-1 stretch at Mott Athletics Center the past two weekends, and going into the Big West opener at rival UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Crosson said he is close to finalizing the rotation, but cautioned to expect some additional ups and downs.
“We’re getting pretty close I think. One of the hardest parts at times is just the inconsistency they play at,” Crosson said, referring to the freshmen. “There’s just times when certain players on the court may be executing at a high level for long periods of time and for others, it may not be their day to be that way.”