DES MOINES, Iowa – Senior forward Mackenzie Pridham registered the third two-goal game of his career, senior midfielder Mike Hocker (right) notched the game-winning strike with his first goal in four years and freshman forward John Chronopoulos scored his first collegiate goal as the Cal Poly men's soccer team opened its 20th season of Division I action by sliding past Drake at Cownie Soccer Complex on Friday evening, 4-2.
Sophomore winger Chase Minter added two assists and Pridham tallied one for Cal Poly (1-0), which twice overturned one-goal deficits in 99-degree heat by recording its first four-goal outing since thrashing Temple 4-1 on Sept. 14, 2012. Mustang sophomore goalkeeper Wade Hamilton recorded five saves as Cal Poly outshot the Bulldogs (0-1) 18-11 in the first meeting between the two programs.
"We played a tough and committed game tonight. As always, we want to control as much of the match as possible with the ball and defend effectively when we don't have possession as teams try to counter on us. We did this for the most part today," fifth-year Mustang head coach Paul Holocher said. "We didn't play an exhibition to look for areas of improvement leading into today. I thought we prepared well this last week, working on being dangerous with our wide play and movement. There were some excellent moments of controlling the game and our team showed good character to continue playing our way and were rewarded in the end."
Drake, a 2009 NCAA Tournament quarterfinalist, opened the scoring in the ninth minute as midfielder Bryan Jantsch deflected a shot off the right post and past Hamilton.
Held to a solitary shot attempt during the opening 14-and-a-half minutes, the Mustangs leveled the scoreline in the 15th, as Chronopoulos – who redshirted last season – fired a shot off the outstretched arms of Drake goalkeeper Rich Gallagher and into the upper left corner of the goal. Minter, who recorded three assists last year, was credited with his first of 2013.
With the match stalemated well into the second half, Hamilton was forced into four more saves until Drake forward Danton Irelan took a feed from forward Eric Williams and converted to provide the hosts a 2-1 advantage.
Cal Poly, however, responded three times in the final 15 minutes to secure victory. Two minutes following Irelan's goal, Pridham – the reigning Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year honoree – converted a penalty to deadlock the scoreline. The converted penalty was Cal Poly's first in 25 games.
Five minutes later, Hocker seized upon a blocked Pridham shot attempt to score his first goal since Sept. 18, 2009. The Mustangs, who held Drake without a shot attempt for the final 16 minutes, put the match to bed four seconds from full time as Minter picked out Pridham from the left side for the final goal.
Pridham matched a career high with six shot attempts.
Cal Poly, which improved to 13-7-0 in season-opening matches, continues its three-match road trip at No. 6 Creighton on Sunday, Sept. 1. Match time is set for 5:30 p.m. PT.
"We're pleased with tonight's performance and can now continue to improve on many details," Holocher added. "Creighton is one of the best teams in the nation and we'll look to play in a similar way on Sunday. It should be an entertaining match for fans to watch."