Under the Saturday night lights at Spanos Stadium, more than 11,000 fans packed the stands, the largest crowd in NCAA attendance this season, for the year’s final installment of the Blue-Green Rivalry which saw the Cal Poly Mustangs handily beat the UCSB men’s soccer team, 4-1.
With the loss, the Gauchos finished the regular season 6-7-5 with a 4-3-3 conference record earning them a No. 2 seed for next weeks Big West Tournament.
For the ‘Stangs, they were able to end their year on a good note but missed out on the conference tournament finishing out the year 7-10-1 overall and 3-6-1 in the Big West.
The team was only able to muster 10 total points during the 2017 campaign, making it the lowest point total in the conference. The 10 total points are actually worse than Cal Poly’s 2016 point total, where the team had 11.
The Mustangs have not been back to the playoffs since 2015 and appear to have a lot of work to do in order to get back.
Despite the final score, it was actually freshman Rodney Michael who opened up the scoring for the game, giving the Gauchos the early 1-0 lead on a 15 yard shot from the top of the box.
The goal was Michael’s eighth on the season, increasing his team lead in goals on the year. Michael’s scoring shot was the first UCSB since the Oct. 18 match against Sacramento State where Michael again scored all two goals of the match for the Gauchos.
The Gauchos were offensively active, taking six shots in the first half, but only Michael’s was able to find the net.
The play between the two teams was back and forth during the first half, much like the last meeting between the two familiar clubs.
It wasn’t until the 43rd minute when sophomore Kenneth Higgins received a heads-up pass from teammate Jared Pressley and took a shot that went just to the left of a diving Alan Carrillo.
The point was not only the Mustang’s first of the match, but it was also Higgins’ first goal of the season and the equalizer left it all even at halftime, 1-1.
If the story at the end of the first half was yet another Cal Poly & UCSB draw, the Mustangs were quick to change that as less than four minutes from the beginning of the second half, senior Adam Olsen found himself at the far post when the ball deflected towards him and the senior was able to tap the ball into the net for the lead, 2-1.
Olsen’s mark on the match was not left at the eventual game-winning goal, as the senior lobbed a high arcing pass to a waiting Kaba Alkebulan in the 51st minute, who ran past a defender to find himself alone in the box, who headed it past Carrillo, putting Cal Poly ahead 3-1. It was Jared Pressley who scored the final goal of the match in the 65th minute as the Mustangs would go on to win 4-1.
While the Gauchos did not find themselves ready to play their last minutes of the 2017 regular season, they did find themselves looking to make the Blue-Green Rivalry their last chance to get some momentum headed into the playoffs.
Throughout the month of October, UCSB has only won two games out of the eight they have played. The team has split the remaining matches between three losses and three ties.
The first round of the Big West Conference Tournament will begin on Wednesday, November 1 where the number two seeded UCSB Gauchos of the North Division will host the number three seeded UC Riverside Highlanders of the South Division.
In their only match of the regular season, the Gauchos hosted the Highlanders and subsequently won the match 3-1.