FULLERTON – Senior defender Kody Wakasa (above) produced his second career goal in 74 collegiate matches and junior goalkeeper Eric Kam finished with four saves Thursday evening, but the Cal Poly men's soccer program dropped its 2016 Big West Conference opener to Cal State Fullerton at Titan Stadium, 2-1.
Cal Poly (2-5-1, 0-1-0) placed five of its seven shot attempts on goal, but fell in a Big West-opening match for the first time since 2006 and saw a three-match unbeaten run snapped after Cal State Fullerton (5-5-0, 1-0-0) built a 2-0 lead after 52 minutes.
In the first meeting between the two sides since Cal State Fullerton eliminated Cal Poly from the 2015 Big West Tournament semifinals, the Titans outshot the Mustangs, 13-7.
Cal Poly enjoyed Thursday's opening scoring chances with junior defender Tony Scimeca seeing a header stopped by Titans goalkeeper David Elias six minutes into action before freshman forward Kenneth Higgins was turned away on 14 minutes and senior forward Justin Dhillon on 28 minutes.
Cal State Fullerton, meanwhile, failed to test Kam until scoring the game's opening goal in the 29th minute. Substituted into the match seconds earlier, defender Alex Heilmann scored with his first touch of the evening by heading a corner from midfielder Nicolo D'Amato past Kam to place the Titans up 1-0.
Kam, the reigning Big West Defensive Player of the Week honoree, chalked up his first save three minutes later. Kam then made two saves during the opening four minutes of the second half to keep Cal State Fullerton's lead at one goal.
The Titans, however, doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute as a free kick from the top left corner of the penalty box skipped toward D'Amato, who flicked his first and only attempt of the night past Kam.
Cal Poly eventually pulled a goal back in the 77th minute as a corner from junior midfielder Joseph Bolous fell to Higgins, who flicked on to Wakasa sliding toward the Titans goal. The goal was just Wakasa's first since scoring the overtime game-winner against No. 13 UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 17, 2015.
Cal Poly concludes its Big West-opening road trip on Saturday, Oct. 1 at UC Riverside. Kickoff is 7 p.m.