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Cal Poly to Visit Long Beach State for Big West Matchup Thursday Night

Cal Poly to Visit Long Beach State for Big West Matchup Thursday Night

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly women's soccer team continues Big West Conference play with a third straight road game this week, as the Mustangs will visit Long Beach State at 6 p.m. Thursday evening at George Allen Field.

The Mustangs begin the week in sixth place in the Big West standings, at 1-2-1 for 4 points. The 49ers also come in with 4 points, however with two fewer losses for fourth place (1-0-1).

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. Defending regular-season champion UC Irvine will host the tournament provided the first-place Anteaters (9 points; 7-5-1, 3-0-0) make the four-team field. If, however, UCI doesn't qualify, hosting rights would then go to this year's No. 1 seed, a new format for 2018.

Long Beach State (6-4-2 overall) picked up a 3-2 win at Hawai'i last week. Dana Fujikuni and Ashley Gonzales lead the 49ers with four goals each, while Imani McDonald has a .790 save percentage to go with a GAA of 1.18 in goal. Alyssa Alvarez has distributed a team-high three assists for LBSU, which is 4-1-1 at home in 2018.

Cal Poly (1-10-4 overall) is coming off a pair of back-to-back double-overtime games, finishing in a scoreless draw with UC Riverside on Oct. 5 before losing with just 28 seconds remaining in the second OT Oct. 7 at UCI, 2-1. Freshman Megan Hansen scored the goal against the Anteaters, converting a 61st-minute equalizing penalty kick.

OVERTIMES APLENTY: The Mustangs have now played seven overtime games in 2018 — six 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).

With the extra time added, junior goalkeeper Sophia Brown enters this week No. 7 in the nation in minutes played: 1,421.

KNAUER LEADS ATTACK WITH TRIO OF GOALS: Senior midfielder Sydney Knauer tallied her team-leading third goal of the season during the 1-0 win over CSUN on Sept. 28. 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 58 games as a Mustang, she now has placed 16 of her 27 total career shots on goal.

FRESHMEN FACTOR: 11 of the 12 newcomers from this year's recruiting class have already combined for 122 appearances.

Included in the group of first-year Mustangs making an immediate impact, eight freshmen have combined to start 70 times (including five 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) and Megan Hansen each have a goal and an assist; Brooke Rubinstein also has a goal; 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 46 of the squad's 70 corner kicks.

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.

George as well as Brown have started all 15 to lead the team.

On Sept. 28, 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 1,341 minutes in the field, while Brown leads the Big West in saves with 92. Brown made a career-high 13 saves in earning the mirroring shutout in a scoreless draw at UCR on Oct. 5 (her second shutout in three games), moving to No. 3 in school history for a career (now with 255 saves).

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, 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 / Nathan Nybakke