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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly women's soccer program will conclude its preseason this weekend, visiting Westmont for a scrimmage on Friday before returning to Alex G. Spanos Stadium to host Fresno State for an exhibition on Sunday.
The unscored scrimmage against the Warriors at Thorrington Field will start at 1 p.m. in Montecito, and the home game vs. the Bulldogs is set for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Fresno State match will be the first of several Youth Days at Spanos Stadium this fall, not only featuring free admission but 2017 schedule posters.
The Mustangs will open the regular season at the Hoosier Challenge Cup on Aug. 18, facing host Indiana before taking on Southern Illinois Edwardsville, the defending Ohio Valley Conference champions (who advanced to the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, edging Notre Dame on PKs), on Aug. 20.
Cal Poly, led by 26th-year head coach Alex Crozier (278-169-50 overall, 100-50-19 Big West), returns eight starters among 18 letterwinners back from last year's squad that went 6-10-3, joined by 11 newcomers and one redshirt freshman.
The group of returning Mustangs is led by a former NSCAA All-West Region honoree (third team in 2014), senior midfielder Megan Abutin, as well as junior defender Chelsea Barry, a 2016 all-conference second-team selection, and senior midfielder Emily Hansen, a 2014 All-Big West Freshman Team member with a team-high 53 career starts.
Abutin (back after a medical redshirt in 2016 following a season-ending injury in the opener at Cal) ranks No. 18 nationally among all Division I players with 20 career assists — four back of tying Kolleen Kassis' school record set from 1992-95. Abutin also has scored 14 goals in her career.
Barry won the TopDrawerSoccer National Goal of the Week accolade on Oct. 19 last season, played all but nine minutes a year ago (a team-high total of 1,771), distributed three assists, and anchored the back line to four shutouts and a 1.3 GAA while taking free kicks.
Sophia Brown, last season's Big West Defensive Player of the Week on Aug. 22, is back in goal after playing every minute of her true-freshman season, making 92 saves (No. 7 in single-season school history).
Another former Big West All-Freshman player, 2016 honoree Jessica Johnson, is back in the attack. She tallied two goals and three assists in her debut season, which included 10 starts.
The Mustangs will return to Spanos Stadium on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. (during Week of Welcome) vs. Sacramento State.
FLOOD, HANSEN SCORE IN GREEN VS. GOLD: Senior forward McKenzie Flood (10th minute) — No. 3 on the team with 49 career games played — and Hansen (50') each scored in the Mustangs' intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 5, leading the Green to a 2-0 win. Brown played all 60 minutes (two 30-minute halves) in the shutout.
BIG WEST TOURNAMENT SLATED FOR NORTHRIDGE: This year's Big West Tournament will be held at CSUN, the 2016 regular-season conference champion. The top four teams in the regular-season standings qualify for the semifinals, scheduled for Nov. 2, with the championship game televised by FOX Sports PT on Nov. 5.
FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS: 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 Woodstock's Pizza, Eureka! and VISA, a member T-Shirt, and more upon reaching point levels by checking in at games.
For the general public, 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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Families are also encouraged to sign up for the Mustang Kids Club ($5 per child/8th grade or under), as benefits include ongoing free admission to all regular-season soccer, volleyball, wrestling & women's basketball events along with select football, men's basketball and baseball games; plus invitations to exclusive events, birthday cards, free ice cream from Doc Burnstein's and a T-Shirt.
Cal Poly went 5-2-2 at Spanos Stadium last fall, improving to 138-59-18 at home all-time. In addition to Sunday against Fresno State, more home matches will feature events and giveaways, with more to be announced soon:
Sept. 17 (Sun. • 12 noon) • vs. Pacific
All Sunday games are Youth Days, with free admission for kids 13 and under.
Sept. 24 (Sun. • 12 noon) • vs. No. 24 Santa Clara
The third Youth Day of the season will be against the Broncos (an Elite Eight participant in 2016).
Oct. 1 (Sun. • 12 noon) • vs. UC Riverside
In addition to another Youth Day, the game vs. the Highlanders will be the second annual Pups at the Pitch, as dogs are welcomed to Spanos Stadium.
BONSALL TO PLAY IN WORLD UNIVERSITY GAMES: Kendra Bonsall, who played every position except goalkeeper during her career for the Mustangs from 2013-16, will soon play as a defender for the United States at the upcoming World University Games in Taipei. She'll be joined by 15 teammates (all either current or recently-graduated NCAA players) at the International University Sports Federation-sanctioned event, scheduled for Aug. 18-28.
Bonsall played 70 matches for Cal Poly, including 60 career starts. Primarily in defense and the midfield as a senior, she played every minute of 13 games, finishing with 29 complete-game efforts for her career.
Chinese Taipei, South Korea and Argentina are also entered in Group A. Three additional groups make for a field of 13 countries represented.
The U.S. schedule is as follows: Aug. 18 vs. South Korea at New Taipei City Xinzhuang Stadium; Aug. 20 vs. Chinese Taipei at Fu Jen Catholic University Stadium; and Aug. 22 vs. Argentina at Xinzhuang Stadium. The quarterfinals (Aug. 24), semifinals (Aug. 26) and the final & third-place matches (Aug. 28) will be held in Fu Jen Stadium.
MUSTANGS IN THE PROS: Two Cal Poly alumni are currently in their second seasons as professionals, both now in the Toppserien League in Norway.
Alyssa Giannetti, with Arna-Bjørnar (in Bergen), was ranked by EverybodySoccer as the No. 4 pro goalkeeper in the world in the U-24 category on July 27. Following her rookie season last November, Giannetti was named the league's Goalkeeper of the Year by the Norwegian Football Federation.
Giannetti started six straight matches from April to May prior to an injury, going 3-0-3 with shutouts over Kolbotn IL and SK Trondheims-Ørn.
Additionally, Elise Krieghoff, a forward for Vålerenga Damer (Oslo), had a hat trick on June 4 during a 6-1 win over Medkila IL. Krieghoff has made 10 appearances in 2017 (including seven starts).
Cal Poly to Host Fresno State for Preseason Exhibition on Sunday
COMPLETE WEEKLY PREVIEW (PDF)