SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – UC Irvine senior midfielder Miguel Ibarra's 56th-minute strike stood as the difference on Tuesday evening as the Cal Poly men's soccer program completed its home slate at Alex G. Spanos Stadium with a 1-0 defeat against the 14th-ranked Anteaters.
Senior goalkeeper Patrick McLain registered a pair of saves during his final Spanos Stadium appearance for the Mustangs (6-8-3, 3-5-1; 10 points), who were eliminated from Big West Conference Tournament contention after a 110th-minute own goal by fifth-place Cal State Northridge (7-8-3, 3-4-2; 11 points) handed fourth-place and 17th-ranked UC Santa Barbara (12-5-1, 5-4-0; 15 points) a 3-2 victory.
Cal Poly will complete its 2011 schedule at UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Nov. 4. Kickoff at Harder Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Mustangs are seeking their first road victory versus UC Santa Barbara since prevailing on Nov. 13, 1998, 4-2. The match can be seen live nationally on Fox Soccer Channel.
Cal Poly, slimly outshot by UC Irvine on Tuesday, 11-10, enjoyed its first scoring opportunity during the 16th minute, but freshman midfielder Nolan Moore was turned away by UC Irvine senior goalkeeper Andrew Fontein. Mustang sophomore forward George Malki was stopped seven minutes later as Cal Poly forced Fontein into five saves during the course of the match.
Despite those looks at goal, Cal Poly's best opportunity to break the deadlock came two minutes out of halftime, as senior forward Kyle Montgomery latched on to a feed from sophomore forward Mackenzie Pridham before seeing a point-blank attempt scuppered by Fontein.
"I thought we played a good first half, but didn't necessarily create all of the opportunities we wanted," sixth-year Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher said. "Our best opportunity (to equalize) came on Kyle's one-on-one with the goalkeeper. UC Irvine is a good team. They drop deep, don't let much get in behind them and make you break them down on the wings."
UC Irvine had only placed one shot on target through the opening 55 minutes before Ibarra secured the eventual game-winning strike for the conference-leading Anteaters. It was senior midfielder Christian Hernandez who flicked a ball past the Cal Poly back line to find Ibarra who, having drawn out McLain, rolled his seventh goal of the season into the back of the Mustang net.
Cal Poly responded quickly with Pridham dragging an attempt across the UC Irvine goalmouth during the 57th minute.
However, the Mustangs – who will miss the Big West Tournament for the first time in program history – produced just two more scoring opportunities as Montgomery was stopped by Fontein in the 67th before junior forward Chris Gaschen was turned away in the 76th.