When Alex Crozier saw Cici Kobinski tearing up the club soccer fields, he saw a recruit that could help give his team a more dynamic attack.
The Cal Poly women’s soccer coach just didn’t have any bets on whether the 5-foot-2 forward from Santa Clara could produce in her first year in San Luis Obispo.
But one of three freshmen starters on a Mustangs team that holds a first-place tie in the Big West Conference with three matches to go, Kobinski is proving height and age are just a couple of overrated numbers.
“She’s very dangerous with the ball,” Crozier said. “It’s almost like she has Velcro on her feet. It’s hard to take the ball from her, she’s just so quick, so deceptive.
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“You look at her and she’s 5-foot-nothing, but she plays big.”
Kobinski scored the lone goal in a 1-0 Big West Conference win over visiting UC Davis on Thursday, and Mustangs goalkeeper Coral Hoover came up with two point-blank saves in the second half to preserve the win for Cal Poly (10-5-0, 4-1-0 Big West).
Fellow freshman Bianca Burright threaded a ball between a couple defenders, and Kobinski rushed around Aggies defender Katie Webb on the left side of the box to snatch possession. Once free, Kobinski cut back across the goal and split another defender and goalkeeper Sarah Peters with a shot in the 19th minute.
It upped Kobinski’s season total to a team-high four goals. Coming into the game, Kobinski, Tiffany Gumow, Morgan Miller and Julianne Grinstead had three goals apiece.
“Cici’s great, She’s just a little ball of fire,” said Hoover, who came up with seven saves in her seventh shutout of the season. “She’s stepped into her role really well. She knows what she’s out there to do, knows how to do it and does it well.”
Cal Poly, now tied with UC Santa Barbara (7-7-1, 4-1-0 Big West) atop the conference standings, held on the rest of the game, but it was not easy shutting out UC Davis (6-6-1, 1-3 Big West).
Coming into the game with as many goals (12) as the Mustangs’ top-four scorers combined, the Aggies’ Rochelle VanBuskirk was limited to just two shots, none on goal.
Teammate Marisa Boge came up with two scoring opportunities in the 50th minute from right in front of the goal with only Hoover left to beat each time.
On the first shot, Hoover hung back to make a diving stop. On the second, she rushed Boge and stuffed her attempt.
“I told them at halftime because Davis is such a dangerous team that we needed another goal,” Crozier said. “We were pushing for it, but at the same time, we had a couple breakdowns, and Coral came up big again, made some great saves.”
The most certain way Cal Poly can seal the regular-season Big West title is by winning the next three matches, starting with a Sunday showdown with Long Beach State. The Mustangs travel to Pacific and UC Santa Barbara to finish the year.