SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – Sophomore forward Ian Clark's first collegiate goal stood as the difference on Saturday evening as the Cal Poly men's soccer program, which held UNLV to just three shot attempts, opened the 2011 regular season and a five-match homestand with a 1-0 triumph at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Cal Poly (1-0) had registered 11 shot attempts through the opening 74 minutes when UNLV was whistled for a foul on the outside of its own penalty area. The Mustangs took a quick tap and sophomore midfielder George Malki earned his first collegiate assist by sliding a pass out right to Clark (right), who rolled his strike past the sprawling figure of UNLV sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Harding.
"(Clark's goal) was a massive relief because, honestly, we could have probably had four or five goals," said sixth-year Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher, whose Mustangs defeated UNLV for the first time in program history and furthered their undefeated streak at Spanos Stadium to eight-successive matches. "In the first half, we lacked a little bit of that final-pass quality to put us through or give us a really good chance. In the second half, it looked like we had worn UNLV down a little bit so we were creating a lot more quality chances and we all felt that it was a matter of time that the goal would come. We talked about quick set pieces (at halftime) and that's how the goal came."
Cal Poly's first true scoring opportunity occurred during the seventh minute after UNLV defender Kyle Mellies brought down a marauding Benny Estes on the edge of the penalty area. Mustang senior midfielder Kyle Montgomery, however, sailed the ensuing free kick high.
Eight minutes later, senior right back Cameron Walters sent a cross through the box that Montgomery overran darting in toward goal.
Cal Poly, which controlled a majority of the possession, needed just four more minutes to isolate Clark, but the forward – who registered just one shot in 10 appearances last year – had the first of his three attempts stopped by Harding.
The Mustangs finished the first half with a flurry of attacks. During the 34th minute, senior midfielder Ryan Anderson slid a pass from the right and through the box toward a lunging Clark. Montgomery charged onto goal two minutes later only to fire left of the net. Junior forward Chris Gaschen was then turned away by Harding in the 38th before sophomore forward Mac Pridham fired wide in the 42nd.
UNLV mustered just one shot attempt during the first half, with freshman forward Salvador Bernal contributing to senior goalkeeper Patrick McLain's lone save of the night.
Pridhim kept up his pace into the second half, heading over the crossbar during the 49th and junior forward Dakota Collins and sophomore forward Ronald Medrano Williams were each stopped by Harding moments later. Pridham again headed over goal during the 57th before Clark helped hand Cal Poly victory 15 minutes from time.
Cal Poly continues its homestand on Friday, Sept. 2 versus New Mexico at 7 p.m.