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Cal Poly Eliminated from Big West Tournament at Cal State Northridge

Cal Poly Eliminated from Big West Tournament at Cal State Northridge

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – Despite a 16-15 advantage in shots, the Cal Poly men's soccer team fell to No. 25 Cal State Northridge in the first round of the Big West Conference Tournament, 4-1, at Matador Soccer Field on Tuesday night.

CSUN (14-5-1) scored 37 seconds into the match, as David Turcios passed to Edwin Rivas, who proceeded to set up Sagi Lev-Ari for his 12th score of the season.

Senior forward Chris Bernardi nearly equalized for the Mustangs (10-9-2) in the 18th minute after corralling a rebound, but the shot sailed just over the top-right corner.

Cal Poly did net the equalizer, though, in the 32nd minute, as sophomore outside back Kip Colvey (pictured at right) tallied his first goal of the season at an ideal time, with freshman forward John Chronopoulos assisting from the left side.

Just 57 seconds before the half, the Mustangs were whistled for a foul in the penalty area. CSUN's Brian Behrad converted the ensuing penalty kick, aimed inside the left post, to regain the Matadors the advantage, 2-1.

Senior forward Ronald Medrano Williams also placed a shot on goal in the first half for the Mustangs.

Wade Hamilton made three first-half saves for Cal Poly. The sophomore also repelled five shots in the second half.

Lev-Ari scored on a breakaway in the 62nd minute to provide the Matadors a 3-1 lead. In the 71st minute, Nicolas Camacho finalized the scoreline by putting away a rebound off a shot by Behrad that had been blocked.

Freshman winger Ari Lassiter accounted for two second-half shots on goal (and another shot that nearly went in on a header but skimmed over the crossbar), and senior midfielder Mike Hocker and sophomore midfielder Matt LaGrassa also placed shots on target in the final 45 minutes.

"We're proud of our team and how we played and fought tonight," eighth-year head coach Paul Holocher said. "We had Cal State Northridge under pressure, got our equalizer and held much of the momentum in the first half.  It wasn't our night though and we tip our hats to Northridge. They're a terrific team and the Big West is clearly one of the best men's soccer conferences in the nation."

The Matadors moved on to face No. 12 UC Santa Barbara in the semifinal round at 7 p.m. Friday.

Six Mustangs earned All-Big West honors Monday, including senior striker Mackenzie Pridham, who was named the conference offensive player of the year for the second season in a row after scoring 14 goals. Pridham recently brought his career goals total to 27, a school record.

Also named to the All-Big West First Team for the Mustangs were senior defender Connor Drechsler and LaGrassa. Additionally, senior midfielder George Malki was chosen for all-conference second-team accolades, while wingers Justin Dhillon and Lassiter were selected for all-freshman distinction.

Cal Poly, led by its class of eight seniors this season, came into the match leading all of Division I with 42 goals on the year, a single-season program record.

"As for our season, we feel very thankful for our approach to the game and our senior leadership," Holocher added. "We went out to play in a special and challenging way – one that produced some beautiful and accomplished soccer. Scoring 42 goals this year was a testament to how we looked to play in an attacking and daring way. Our young men possessed and built up offensively all year, even under great pressure. They were committed to a way of playing and we couldn't be more proud.

"We inside the program will look back at this season years from now and realize that what we did was very special."