Denver scored two goals in the opening 24 minutes in a 3-1 win over the Cal Poly men’s soccer team Sunday at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
The Mustangs (3-3-2) outshot the Pioneers 20-8 but managed only one goal when junior forward Benny Estes put home Cameron Walters’ free kick in the 72nd minute.
Denver, which lost to UC Santa Barbara in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, took a 1-0 lead on Christian Volesky’s goal in the 13th minute.
The Pioneers (2-4-2) went ahead 2-0 in the 23rd minute on a goal by Drew Beckie.
In the 26th minute, Cal Poly had a chance to pull one back when the Mustangs were awarded a penalty kick after Wes Feighner was pulled down in the box. But Denver’s goalkeeper Matt Aguirre made the save on George Malki.
It marked the first time the Mustangs failed to convert a penalty kick in its previous nine tries.
Aguirre made five saves for Denver.
Cal Poly had several good chances in the second half. Patrick Sigler’s header off a corner kick hit the crossbar in the 52nd minute. The Mustangs again nearly got on the board in the 56th minute, but Walters clanged a shot off the crossbar. And in the 69th minute, Keegan Smith’s shot hit the post.
After Estes, a transfer from St. Louis, drew Cal Poly within 2-1, Denver put the game away in the 88th minute on a goal by Matt Kirby. Kirby put away a rebound after Mustangs freshman goalkeeper Chase Hauser had stopped a shot by Nate Sackeyfio.
Hauser played the second half and made two saves.
“We gave up two early goals and you just can’t do that when you have a tough time scoring (yourself),” Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher said in a release. “We had plenty of shots, but a tough time finishing. We’re telling the guys to stay positive and stay aggressive though.”
Cal Poly opens Big West Conference play Wednesday at No. 8 UC Irvine.