SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — On the road again, the Cal Poly women's soccer team is headed to Montana this week for a pair of games. First up, the Mustangs will face the hosting Grizzlies at 4 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, broadcast on WatchBigSky. Cal Poly will stay in Missoula through the weekend, taking on Idaho State in a neutral-field match on Sunday at UM's South Campus Stadium, kicking off at 11 a.m. MDT.
Last week, Cal Poly (1-4-1) topped Pepperdine, 2-1 in its home opener, before being edged on an 86th-minute goal at San Diego, 1-0.
SCOUTING THE GRIZ: Montana, the defending Big Sky Conference Tournament champion, has started 0-3-2, with the last two losses incurred by just one goal each: 1-0 at both Gonzaga and Cal.
Alexa Coyle scored a 65th-minute equalizer for the Grizzlies in their 1-1 draw with North Dakota State in Fargo on Aug. 25, off an assist from Taylor Stoeger. Coyle tallied six goals in 2018.
Between the posts for the Griz, Claire Howard has a 1.65 goals-against average and a .690 save percentage, with one shutout this year. Cal Poly is 4-2-0 all-time against Montana, although the two programs haven't met in 16 years.
A LOOK AT THE BENGALS: Idaho State (0-5-1) starts the week looking for its first win of 2019, with the closest losses coming against New Mexico State (2-1) and Boise State (1-0).
Paige Smith, Jazmin Lopez and Lauren McGahie each have a goal apiece for ISU, while Makena Bambei, an All-Big Sky honorable mention last season, has two assists. In goal, Katie Hogarth holds a .750 save percentage next to a 1.94 GAA.
The Bengals will host Saint Mary's in Pocatello on Friday before heading north to Missoula. Sunday's matchup will be the first-ever encounter between Cal Poly and ISU.
BROWN CLIMBING IN RECORD BOOK: Including a combined 17 saves against Pepperdine and USD, goalkeeper Sophia Brown begins this week with 307 career saves, tied with Kristina Grigaitis (1993-96) for No. 2 all-time at Cal Poly. She's 73 saves back of Alyssa Giannetti's school-record total of 380 from 2012-15.
Brown, a senior from Pleasanton, currently ranks third throughout the conference (No. 47 nationally) in save percentage, at .861, as well as fourth in the Big West in GAA, via 0.92.
ROJAS, BUGSCH SCORE IN WIN OVER PEPPERDINE: Kylie Rojas and Sidra Bugsch each scored a goal apiece on Sept. 6, leading the Mustangs to a 2-1 win over Pepperdine.
Just under 25 seconds away from intermission vs. the Waves, Rojas recovered a loose ball above the top-right perimeter of the 18-yard box, made a quick maneuver to her left to shake her defender, took a few steps and blasted a left-footed strike into the top-right corner of the goal. Cal Poly doubled the lead five-&-a-half minutes after returning to the pitch, earning a left-centered free kick 2 yards above the penalty area stemming from a foul, after which Bugsch ripped a right-footed strike just to the right of the Pepperdine wall for a 2-0 lead.
LONG BEACH LOOKS TO REPEAT: The top four schools in the regular-season conference table — which awards 3 points per victory and 1 per draw — will qualify for the Big West Tournament, with the semifinals scheduled for Nov. 7 and the championship game Nov. 10.
The Mustangs begin Big West play at home, hosting defending conference champion Long Beach State on Oct. 3. LBSU achieved the 'double' in 2018, winning both the regular-season and Big West Tournament titles. Cal Poly finished last year tied for sixth in the conference standings.
This year's regular-season No. 1 seed will host the conference tournament immediately after finishing in first place, a change from in years past where the previous season's regular-season champ won hosting rights for the year ahead.
SAVE THE DATES: This season's remaining home slate features numerous additional giveaways and community events inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium:
Thursday, Sept. 19 vs. Washington (5 p.m.)
As part of Week of Welcome around campus, the match against the Huskies starts a soccer doubleheader at Spanos, as the Mustang men's team will later take on Westmont at 7:30 that evening. The first 200 students will receive free T-shirts.
Sunday, Sept. 29 vs. Seattle U (12 noon)
For Youth Day against the defending WAC Tournament champions, admission is free for kids 13-and-under.
Thursday, Oct. 3 vs. Long Beach State (7 p.m.)
At the conference opener, free scarves will be handed out to the first 250 fans.
Sunday, Oct. 27 vs. Cal State Fullerton (2 p.m.)
Admission is free for kids 13-and-under on Mustang Family Weekend.
Sunday, Nov. 3 vs. UC Riverside (2 p.m.)
Admission is again free for kids 13-and-under as Cal Poly celebrates Senior Day.
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.
Families are encouraged to sign up for the Mustang Kids Club ($10 per child 8th-grade-or-under), as over $300 in benefits include ongoing free admission to all 2019-20 regular-season soccer, volleyball, wrestling & women's basketball events along with select football, men's basketball and baseball games; plus invitations to exclusive events; opportunities to be an honorary captain at Mustang home games; a birthday card from Musty; free gelato at SLO Sweets every month (along with birthday scavenger hunts) and a T-Shirt.
Cal Poly students always get into games for free, and are also invited to join the Stang Gang. Stang Gang, Cal Poly's student fan group, features several rewards for a $10 one-time lifetime registration fee, including prizes from sponsors such as Adidas, Amazon, Breakfast Buzz, Eureka Burger, Frank's Famous Hot Dogs, Mr. Pickles, Old San Luis BBQ, SLO Sweets, Splash Café, Visa and Woodstock's Pizza, a member T-shirt, and more upon reaching point levels by checking-in at games.
Links to follow Mustang game broadcasts throughout the season can be found above, on the schedule page or via the GoPoly Front Row app.
Photos © Alexander Bohlen / Owen Main / Nathan Nybakke