WATCH LAGRASSA'S EQUALIZER AND DRECHSLER'S GAME WINNER
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Senior defender Connor Drechsler (right) followed sophomore forward Matt LaGrassa's 82nd-minute equalizer with an 88th minute headed goal – his first in four collegiate seasons – as the Cal Poly men's soccer team rallied for a 3-2 come-from-behind triumph against Penn on Friday evening at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Sophomore goalkeeper Wade Hamilton added two saves for the Mustangs (3-2-0), who overcame a first-half own goal and Penn freshman forward Sam Hayward's 74th-minute go-ahead strike to record their first home win of 2013. Cal Poly outshot the Quakers (2-1-0) 15-12 and produced 14 corner kick opportunities to Penn's two.
Cal Poly forced Quakers senior goalkeeper Tyler Kinn into five saves inside the opening 16 minutes, but it was a 29th-minute deflected clearance from Penn senior defender Nicky Yin that shot into the back of the Quaker net which provided the Mustangs a 1-0 lead.
Eighty second later, however, Cal Poly suffered the same fate with sophomore midfielder Ruben Duran inadvertently redirecting a Penn attack past Hamilton to square the scoreline.
"This was an interesting game to say the least. Two own goals in the first half in a span of a few minutes when I really felt that we had the lion's share of the game. But that's soccer sometimes," eighth-year Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher said. "We had a lot of possession and several good chances in the first half, but their goalkeeper was excellent and we weren't clinical enough in finding the corners."
Penn, which held Cal Poly without a shot on goal for a 67-minute stretch, found its go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, as senior defender Jonny Dolzeal broke from midfield to find Hayward, who fired a low line drive from 25 yards past Hamilton and into the lower left corner of the Mustang net.
Cal Poly, however, deadlocked the game seven-and-a-half minutes later as an initial attack from freshman forward John Chronopoulos fell toward LaGrassa inside the Penn penalty area. LaGrassa pounced on the loose ball and smashed his first goal of the year past Kinn.
The Mustangs proceeded to produce the game winner three minutes from full time. After the Mustangs won a free kick on the perimeter of the Penn penalty box, senior forward Chris Bernardi lofted a future assist in front of the Penn goal where Drechsler – a starter in all 61 of Cal Poly's games during his career – dove to head his first collegiate shot on goal past Kinn.
"When we went down a goal it was a moment for our guys to realize their character – similar to how we responded with three late goals in our season-opening win at Drake," Holocher added. "We kept our composure and resolve and found a way to score two late goals. I'm happy for our guys and our fans, who were tremendous in their support tonight."
Cal Poly contests the third leg of its five-match home stand on Sunday, Sept. 15 when facing San Jose State at 4 p.m.