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October 31, 2013

Cal Poly Wins Regular-Season Big West Championship, Clinches No. 1 Seed

DAVIS, Calif. – Elise Krieghoff scored the game-winning goal in the 85th minute Thursday afternoon, and the Cal Poly women's soccer team finished the regular season with a 1-0 victory at UC Davis.

With the win at Aggie Soccer Field, the Mustangs clinched both the outright regular-season Big West Conference championship and the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament.

"We had a very good run in conference," Cal Poly head coach Alex Crozier said. "The players just dug in and got it done, and today was no different."

It was the sixth time in the past seven matchups between the two that the rivalry game was decided by no more than a one-goal difference.

A draw also would've clinched the same outcomes for the Mustangs. It looked as if overtime might be imminent, but with just five minutes and five seconds remaining in regulation, Krieghoff took a pass from Megan Abutin in front of the goal and fired to net her 21st goal of the season.

"Both teams had chances," Crozier said. "We were able to hold off Davis, and Elise, like she's done all year, put one in off a great feed."

Although the regular-season title is now in tow, the Big West's automatic NCAA Tournament berth will be decided next week.

Cal Poly (7-1-0 Big West, 11-7-0 overall) will open the Big West Tournament in the semifinals against the No. 4 seed, Cal State Fullerton, at Titan Stadium (on the campus of Cal State Fullerton), at 7:35 p.m. Thursday. The championship game, with the College Cup bid at stake, will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at the same location.

"It's a great accomplishment for the program," Crozier said on Thursday of finishing atop the regular-season standings. Of the single-elimination postseason, Crozier added: "Now we're in a situation where it's one-and-done. Being the No. 1 seed is great, but whether you're 1, 2, 3 or 4, it's all pretty much the same, so we're going in there with that mindset."

Krieghoff's 21 goals are the most in the country at the Division I level, and also represent a single-season school record.

The sophomore forward had already tested UC Davis junior Taylor Jern with three other shots on goal in the first, 26th and 51st minutes Thursday. Sara Lancaster (28') and Cristina Farrington (65') also placed shots on target that were sent back while the Aggies (2-4-1 Big West, 5-9-3 overall) battled to boost their postseason hopes.

On the other side, Alyssa Giannetti made three critical saves for the Mustangs, nullifying Aggie attacks in the 11th, 43rd and 61st minutes. The sophomore goalkeeper anchored Cal Poly's seventh shutout of the season.

With help from a back line comprised of Farrington, Jordyn Zander, Jordan Ansara, Allie Begin, Robin Mertens and Braelyn Fetsch, Cal Poly improved to 11-0-0 overall this year when tallying the first score.

It's the first regular-season Big West championship for the Mustangs since 2009. (Cal Poly tied for second in the standings a year ago before being eliminated in the semifinal stage of the conference tournament.) Overall, it's the seventh regular-season Big West title in program history.

The win was also the 200th overall for Crozier as a member of the Big West. The 22nd-year head coach had already surpassed the overall 250-win milestone earlier this year, as the program's first four NCAA seasons, 1992-95, came before the establishment of the Big West as a women's soccer conference.