There are three Canadian-born players on the Cal Poly men’s soccer team.
Ian Clark and Nolan Moore, both from British Columbia, and Mackenzie Pridham, who was born in Toronto, all enjoy typical Canadian activities.
“We love hockey,” Clark said. “We say ‘eh’ a lot. Yeah. A lot.”
What they had not been doing a lot was scoring goals. It was a team-wide epidemic, however, regardless of home province.
Though Cal Poly ranks as the best goals-against team (0.75 per game) in the Big West Conference, it’s also the worst in scoring (0.70 per game).
But the Mustangs broke out of that funk Sunday with the Canadian trio collecting a hat trick and spearheading a 5-0 victory over visiting UC Riverside going into a week where Cal Poly will also host rival UC Santa Barbara.
“I’m glad all three of them scored today,” said junior midfielder Chris Gaschen, whose first goal of the season gave the Mustangs (5-4-2, 2-1-0 Big West) a 2-0 halftime lead. “I love playing with all three of them, so, I guess I like Canada.”
The Mustangs had scored only seven goals in 10 matches this season and had multiple scores in just one of those. Freshman Dakota Collins was the solo team leader with two goals.
The Highlanders (6-4-1, 1-2-0 Big West) were held scoreless for their fourth straight trip to Alex G. Spanos Stadium, while Cal Poly’s offense had a huge breakthrough.
“Scoring five goals in a game for any team is amazing,” Clark said, “and for us, it just felt fantastic. We came into this game, we said we needed to play with confidence, we played with confidence and it just proves we can do it.”
The Mustangs have only scored five goals one other time under head coach Paul Holocher — a 5-1 victory over Maine in 2006, Holocher’s first season in San Luis Obispo. Since joining the Big West in 2001, Cal Poly had never scored five in a conference match.
The Mustangs had also been riding a two-match home winless streak, and having lost three of the past four while scoring a combined two goals, the pressure was beginning to build.
“That’s what we were all feeling,” Holocher said. “It was like, ‘My gosh, the way things are going, we’re going to have to produce a shutout every game to get wins.’
“We had been outshooting a lot of teams but not putting it in the back of the net. So, this was a good feeling for everybody.”
Warming up for Tuesday’s home match with second-place Cal State Northridge and Friday’s showdown with the nationally ranked Gauchos, an announced crowd of 1,333 first had reason to cheer when Clarke put a shot past Highlanders goalkeeper Cody Suppe in the 27th minute.
Senior defender Patrick Sigler led Cameron Walters up the right sideline with a pass from the back line, and Walters found Clark in front of the net with a cross for his second assist of the season.
Gaschen scored less than 6 minutes later when Suppe left the goal to stuff Clark on a one-on-one. The ball bounced to Gaschen about 35 yards out, and he one-timed a shot before UC Riverside defenders could recover.
“I knew the goalie was off his line,” Gaschen said. “I didn’t try to pace it. I just tried to hit it as hard as I could on frame because I knew everyone was crashing the goal.”
Pridham, Moore and Kyle Montgomery each scored second-half goals as the Mustangs ended up outshooting the Highlanders 21-9 and 8-4 in shots on goal.
The match very nearly developed with a different storyline when UC Riverside threatened in the 7th minute.
Cal Poly goalkeeper Patrick McLain ventured away from the goal and dove to prevent a shot near the right post but failed to gain possession of the ball.
The Highlanders centered it to Ivan Garcia while McLain was still down, but with Sigler and Wes Feigner both backing up in the box, the shot was kicked away by Sigler.
“That would have changed the whole outcome of the game,” Sigler said. “If they would have went up 1-0 in the first 7 minutes of the game, we would have been on our heels again, and who knows what would have happened?”
WOMEN’S SOCCERUC Irvine 1, Cal Poly 0
The Mustangs (8-6-1, 2-2-0 Big West) allowed the winning goal in the 71st minute and dropped to third place behind the Anteaters (9-3-2, 2-1-1 Big West) and first-place Long Beach State (10-3-1, 3-0-0 Big West).
Cami Privett scored the winner on a long cross from Devon Delarosa.
Tiffany Gummow led Cal Poly with four shots, one on goal.
WOMEN’S TENNISCal Poly at Gaucho Classic
Senior Jocelyn Davis won twice Saturday and once Sunday to capture the B Singles Consolation championship at UC Santa Barbara’s Gaucho Classic.
Davis beat Colorado State’s Veronika Wojakowska 6-3, 6-2 and UC Santa Barbara’s Jordan Dockendorf 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday, and Loyola Marymount’s Elisavewta Pironkovas 6-2, 6-2 in the finals Sunday.