The CSUN men’s soccer team out shot and out played Cal Poly on Wednesday, but still walked away from the match with their first conference loss of the season.
The Matadors controlled possession for most of the game, winning the majority of loose balls at midfield and giving numerous scoring opportunities to their strikers. CSUN had 18 shots in the game, compared to seven for the Mustangs. The Matadors also had a 7-1 edge in corner kicks. But the only statistic that mattered in the end was the 1-0 final score in favor of Cal Poly.
“I was extremely disappointed,” said head coach Terry Davila. “It doesn’t matter how many shots we had. You can measure that on the stat sheet, but you can’t measure hustle. They out-hustled us for sure.”
The loss snaps an eight-match unbeaten streak for CSUN, who is 5-4-5 on the season and 3-1-3 in the Big West. Cal Poly improved their record to 7-6-1 and 3-3-1 in conference.
The Matadors had some of their best scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of the first half. In the seventh minute, defender Sean Franklin pushed a pass ahead to midfielder Adrian Lopez, who was wide open inside the box. Lopez fired a shot, but was denied by a brilliant leaping save by Cal Poly goalkeeper Eric Branagan-Franco. Ten minutes later, Franklin had a scoring opportunity after a great through pass by Fergie Agwu. Franklin decided to pass instead of shoot and the Poly defense cleared the ball.
The Mustangs had a few scoring opportunities in the first half, but unlike the Matadors, they took advantage. In the 30th minute, the CSUN defense cleared the ball out from in front of the goal to the top right corner of the box, directly at the feet of midfielder Anton Peterlin, who shot a rocket into the upper-left corner of the net.
A defensive miscommunication by the Mustangs just six minutes later led to a Matador corner kick and a chance to even the score. Midfielder Taylor Canel bended the kick in front of the net and forward Moy Gomez headed it off the crossbar.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Franklin said. “I think we were just unlucky.”
The crossbar once again stymied the Matadors in the 86th minute, when top-scorer Sunghyun Kim fired a shot from the top of the box that deflected off a Mustang defender and hit the bar.
The Matadors out shot Cal Poly 13-4 in the second half, but couldn’t put the ball in the net. Branagan-Franco was shouting at his team during the final minutes of the game to “hold the ball” and “don’t foul.” The Mustangs followed the orders of their keeper and played keep-away to run out the final minutes of the game.
“We shouldn’t have lost to a team like that,” Franklin said. “We all know we could’ve done better and stuck to the game plan more.”
The loss puts CSUN into a three-way tie for the conference lead with UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine.
The team will travel to Santa Barbara to take on the Gauchos on Oct. 25 at Harder Stadium.
“You can talk about it all you want,” said Davila. “Talk is cheap. We have the next couple of games to see what we’re made of.”