In the only Blue-Green rivalry match of the season between the first and second place teams in the Big West, Cal Poly proved why they are in first place, defeating the UCSB women’s soccer team 2-1 on Friday in the final regular season game at Harder Stadium.
Two second-half goals by the nation’s leading scorer, sophomore forward Elise Krieghoff, was enough to push the Mustangs past the Gauchos. After a goal from senior forward Allie Ariniello late in the second half, the Gauchos could not put together a rally despite outshooting Cal Poly 12-10.
“We just always have to get that one [goal] and they always keep coming. But, unfortunately we did it too late in the game,” senior defender Paige Gankema said. “If we just had more accurate shots and put away all the shots we had then it wouldn’t have been such a challenge.”
Cal Poly clinches a berth in the playoffs with the win, improving to 10-7 overall and 6-1 in the Big West. With the loss, UCSB drops to 9-8-1 overall and 3-4 in the conference. The defeat endangers the Gauchos’ chance of qualifying for the Big West Tournament for the first time since 2009. UCSB will need to at least win its next game against UC Davis to maintain any chance of qualifying for postseason play.
It is the 12th time this season the Gauchos have been involved in a game decided by a one-goal margin, including all of its conference games.
Despite emotions running high for the Gauchos after honoring their five seniors on Senior Night, UCSB came out flat in the first 15 minutes of the game. Under heavy pressure in the opening moments, Santa Barbara soon settled in to match Cal Poly’s intensity. With both sides playing evenly on both sides of the pitch, the game went scoreless into halftime.
“There are extended periods where you have to weather the storm and after 15 or so minutes we weathered the storm,” Head Coach Paul Stumpf said. “I think from then on the game was relatively even, but it did take us 15 or so minutes to match the energy.”
It did not take long for Cal Poly to break the scoreless draw in the second half. Unable to score in any of her three shots taken in the first half, Krieghoff broke through in the 50th minute with a shot from outside of the box that lofted over sophomore goalkeeper Beth Ritter’s outstretched hand into the corner of the net.
Just three minutes later, Krieghoff found the back of the net again for her 20th goal of the season. This time a breakdown resulted in Ritter leaving her goal early. Krieghoff sidestepped Ritter and had an open shot on goal to give Cal Poly a 2-0 advantage.
“[In the] second half they just found their chances and put them away,” junior midfielder Miranda Cornejo said. “Honestly there was nothing we can do about [the first goal], it was about 30 yards out, a bender in the top so that was a tough one. [Kreighoff] is the number one scorer in the nation.”
UCSB was not without its opportunities. Junior midfielder Madison Beckley had a shot rebound to her with the goalkeeper out of position and sent the ball just left of the open net. Not until the 80th minute did the Gauchos find the back of the net on a cross that connected with Beckley’s head, hitting the crossbar and pushed in by Ariniello. It was Ariniello’s team-high fifth goal.
The last game of the regular season for UCSB will be a must-win road game at UC Davis on Sunday at 2 p.m.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of October 28, 2013’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Peter Vandenbelt of The Daily Nexus.