Elise Krieghoff couldn’t have plotted a more amazing way to score her most recent goal, one in at least 200 she thinks she’s scored in a lifetime of playing soccer.
Seriously, she’s lost count.
This one won the game. It tied a record. And after her teammates started a social media campaign to raise awareness, it ended up on ESPN.
With less than eight minutes left in a 3-2 victory at UC Riverside on Sunday, Krieghoff one-timed a pass from Megan Abutin from 30 yards out and hooked it just inside the upper right corner of the goal for the game-winner.
“We have less than 10 minutes, and we’re still tied,” Krieghoff said at a news conference Tuesday. “This game is crucial for us to go into postseason play. I’ve taken shots from there before. I just had the confidence to take it, so I went for it. I didn’t think it was going to turn out as beautiful as it was.”
The picture-perfect arc of the shot and a slew of Mustangs tweets after the game were enough to get the attention of ESPN. With the help of the Cal Poly sports information department, the clip ranked third on Sunday night’s SportsCenter Top 10. In his 23rd year as head coach of the Mustangs, Alex Crozier said it was possibly one of the top five goals he’d ever seen and was definitely the first SportsCenter Top 10 appearance for the women’s soccer program.
The Cal Poly men’s basketball team was twice featured on the SportsCenter countdown last season — once when Chris Eversley dunked past the outstretched arm of 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndaiye of UC Irvine and again when Ridge Shipley sent the Mustangs to their first NCAA Tournament with a last-minute 3-pointer.
The fact that Krieghoff’s goal seemed to confidently come out of nowhere made her strike especially appealing.
“As I was watching it,” Crozier said, “it was like, ‘Why are you taking that shot?’ She was 35 yards out and hadn’t really taken a touch on the ball. She just hits it.
“So, it was one of those ones where it’s like, what are you doing? Oh, it’s a goal. Good shot.” Krieghoff’s 45 career collegiate goals tied Cal Poly’s all-time mark set by Kolleen McNamee, formerly Kassis, set from 1992-95.
Perhaps more impressive, Krieghoff is just a junior. Her career goal total ranks second in Big West Conference history, and she should have a good chance to pass UC Santa Barbara’s Jennifer Borich, who had 56 goals from 2001-04.
The victory over the Highlanders moved Cal Poly (9-8-0, 4-2-0 Big West) into a first-place tie with CSUN going into Sunday’s noon home finale against the Gauchos. The Mustangs are in good shape to earn a berth in the Big West Tournament, which will be played at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, but Cal Poly may need to defeat Cal State Fullerton on the road in the regular-season finale on Nov. 2 to seal a spot.
The assist by Abutin is also significant. For the sophomore forward, her 11th assist of the season places her fifth in the country and is only one shy of the program-record 12 recorded by Shana Stickel in 1997.
Tying the career record for goals “means a lot for me personally,” Krieghoff said, “but it goes to show how well my team has come to adapt to having great goal scorers. We have great chemistry on the field, and we’re looking to just continue that.”