Adam Olsen was one of the last Cal Poly men’s soccer players to walk off the field Saturday night.
As the swarm of students who rushed the field following the Mustangs’ 4-1 win over UC Santa Barbara dissipated, the senior wasn’t so quick to say goodbye to the field that had become his home over the past four seasons.
There would be no playoffs to follow. His season, and his Cal Poly career had come to an end. But Olsen and fellow senior Kaba Alkebulan left their mark. Both scored goals that sent a sold-out Alex G. Spanos crowd into a frenzy helped lift Cal Poly to a win in the storied Blue-Green rivalry match.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out. To get a 4-1 win, most of these games are a one-goal game, was special,” Olsen said.
It was the first time one squad in the Blue-Green rivalry series had scored as many as four goals against the other since UC Santa Barbara defeated Cal Poly 5-1 on Nov. 9, 2001.
UCSB (6-7-5, 4-3-3 Big West) opened the scoring in the 19th minute when a Rodney Michael shot deflected off a Cal Poly defender and past goalkeeper Jason Hernandez. Sophomore Kenneth Higgins answered with the equalizer just before halftime, knocking it past the UCSB goalkeeper with the outside of his right foot from 18 yards out.
Then it was Olsen’s turn. He sparked a run of three unanswered goals in the second half in the 49th minute with a left-footed goal after a scramble in the box. He followed that with a perfect cross in the 52nd minute to Alkebulan, who headed the ball into the side net to make it 3-1.
“It’s been a weird ride,” said Olsen who has had three coaches in four seasons. “To have all of that rewarded tonight was something special.”
There were plenty of people in the stands to witness Olsen’s special moment, including his parents. The announced attendance of 11,075 marked the largest crowd to witness an NCAA soccer match this season and the seventh consecutive sellout in the matchup.
Cal Poly finished the season 7-10-1 (3-6-1 Big West), and Olsen finished the year as Cal Poly’s top goal scorer with six.
Putting a cap on the night was junior Jared Pressley, whose rocket off his right foot from a tough angle off a pass from sophomore Diego Alonso flew past the ‘keeper. It gave Cal Poly the 4-1 advantage and helped give head coach Steve Sampson hope for the future.
“We would prefer to be going to the playoffs, let’s be honest, but to beat Santa Barbara 4-1 it’s really important to this university and this team and these fans,” Sampson said. “We have had a lot of ups and downs this season, but a lot of freshman were playing tonight and all season long and I think it really speaks volumes about what the potential for our future is.”