SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly women's soccer team continues Big West Conference play on the road this week, first visiting UC Riverside at 7 p.m. Friday and then traveling to UC Irvine for a 1 p.m. kickoff Sunday.
The Mustangs begin the week with 3 points in the Big West standings (1-1-0), in a three-way tie for fourth place early on. Hawai'i and UC Davis also collected 3 opening-weekend points to match for fourth. Cal Poly (1-9-3 overall) opened conference play topping CSUN 1-0 on Sept. 28 before falling 2-0 to UCD Sept. 30 in Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
UC Riverside started conference action defeating Cal State Fullerton 3-1, improving to a league-best 10-0-1 overall.
The unbeaten Highlanders, 8-0-0 at home in 2018, received 31 votes in the latest coaches Top 25 poll (only four spots back of being nationally ranked). They're led up top by Madeline Feist's seven goals and three assists. Meanwhile in goal, Annie Bailey has a 0.26 GAA to go with a .944 save percentage, with six shutouts for UCR.
UC Irvine (5-5-1), defending regular-season Big West champions, opened its conference schedule earning a 1-0 double-overtime win against Hawai'i.
Claire Grouwinkel has tallied five goals this year for the Anteater attack, while Alex Karlowitsch has distributed three assists. UCI keeper Maddie Newsom brings a 1.21 GAA along with a .774 save percentage into Week 2.
The top four schools in the conference standings qualify for the Big West Tournament, scheduled for Nov. 1 (semifinals) and Nov. 4 (the championship match). The Big West table awards 3 points per win and 1 per draw.
KNAUER SCORES AGAIN: Senior midfielder Sydney Knauer tallied her team-leading third goal of the season during the win over the Matadors. She chipped into an empty net off a rebound 25 yards away, securing the game-winner in the 53rd minute.
Earlier this season, Knauer also scored against San Jose State (upon 34' Aug. 30) and Santa Clara (60' on Sept. 21). Having played in 56 games as a Mustang, she now has placed 16 of her 26 total career shots on goal (61.5 percent).
FRESHMEN FACTOR: 11 of the 12 newcomers from this year's recruiting class have already combined for 105 appearances.
Included in the group of first-year Mustangs making an immediate impact, eight freshmen have combined to start 60 times (including six out of 11 starters this past Sunday).
Among the freshmen starters, Mackenzie George (one of 24 players called to attend the USWNT U-19 camp in May) has a goal and an assist; Brooke Rubinstein also has a goal; Megan Hansen, Emily Talmi and Clare Murphy have one assist each; and Ava McCray has placed six of her 10 total shots on goal.
Additionally, Monserrat Hernandez Marquez and Talmi have accounted for 44 of the squad's 63 corner kicks.
OVERTIMES APLENTY: The Mustang loss to Cal Baptist on Sept. 23 was Cal Poly's fifth overtime game in 2018, four of which have gone to double-OT.
Cal Poly opened the season with a scoreless draw against Marquette on Aug. 16, with its other ties coming versus San Jose State (1-1 on Aug. 30) and Seattle U (also 1-1 on Sept. 9).
INJURIES SHUFFLE LINEUP: In part due to several injuries around the squad, 23 different players have started at least one match for Cal Poly in 2018.
Five active Mustangs have started at least 10 games, led by George as well as junior goalkeeper Sophia Brown, each of whom have started all 13 to lead the team.
Most recently this past week, Cal Poly lost senior defender Chelsea Barry 56 minutes into the win over CSUN to a season-ending injury. Barry, who earned Coaches Association All-West Region third-team honors in 2017, had moved to No. 13 in school history for career starts (with 66) and tied for No. 15 on Cal Poly's all-time assist leaderboard (10).
George has played a team-high 1,121 minutes in the field, while Brown leads the Big West in saves with 71, ranking 12th nationally. Also No. 1 in the conference for the per-game category (averaging 5.5), Brown ranks No. 4 in school history for career saves (236).
CAL POLY ADDED TO ESPN3 FOR OCT. 21: Cal Poly's matchup at Cal State Fullerton on Sunday, Oct. 21 has been added to the WatchESPN lineup. The game against the Titans, defending Big West Tournament champions, is set for a 2 p.m. kickoff. WatchESPN telecasts are available on all connected devices.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS: Mustang tickets are available at GoPoly.com, by calling (805) 756-4849 or by visiting the sidewalk window at the on-campus Performing Arts Center from 12 noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Links to follow Mustang games live throughout the season can be found above, on the schedule page or via the GoPoly Front Row app.
Photos © Owen Main