SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A seventh-minute goal by Cal State Northridge sophomore midfielder Thomas Ramos stood as the match-winning strike on Wednesday evening as the Cal Poly men's soccer program dropped an eventual 2-0 decision against the Matadors at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Senior midfielder Kyle Montgomery finished with a match-leading five shot attempts for Cal Poly (5-5-2, 2-2-0), which entered play Tuesday deadlocked with Cal State Northridge (6-5-1, 3-1-0) for second place in the Big West Conference standings. Cal Poly, which outshot the Matadors, 17-12, saw an eight-match unbeaten run versus Cal State Northridge snapped with the defeat.
"We met a very good opponent tonight and we made a few mistakes that they capitalized upon," sixth-year Mustang head coach Paul Holocher said. "Credit to Cal State Northridge; they took advantage of their opportunities."
Cal Poly completes its four-match home stand against No. 13 and central coast rival UC Santa Barbara on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. (Spanos Stadium gates will open at 5:30 p.m.). Topping CollegeSoccerNews.com's list of the 14 Greatest Rivalries in College Soccer, the Cal Poly-UC Santa Barbara series has drawn seven of the top-21 regular season crowd figures in NCAA history with all matches occurring during the previous four-plus seasons.
Ramos made Cal State Northridge's first shot on goal count against Cal Poly, accepting a flick over the Mustang backline from senior midfielder Rafael Garcia and besting senior goalkeeper Patrick McLain.
Held without a shot for the opening 10 minutes, the Mustangs failed to test Cal State Northridge junior goalkeeper Michael Abalos until senior right back Cameron Walters hit the crossbar during the 29th minute. Abalos was forced into his first save during the 37th following a shot from the boot of junior forward Chris Gaschen. Abalos then turned away senior left back Wes Feighner less than a minute later.
Cal State Northridge nearly doubled its lead during the 36th, but Ramos fired right of goal on a breakaway versus McLain.
The Mustangs steadily began to take control of the game, beginning immediately after the restart. Montgomery skimmed the Matador cross bar following a 46th-minute free kick before senior midfielder Ryan Anderson had an attempt thwarted by Abalos five yards from goal in the 51st.
After Walters unleashed a screaming attempt wide a minute later, the Mustangs saw themselves denied by the woodwork again in the 62nd when Montgomery fired a free kick off the left post.
Cal State Northridge notched its second goal in the 66th minute with sophomore midfielder Carlos Benavides picking out sophomore forward Brian Behrad, who, in another one-on-one situation against McLain, found the back of the Mustang net for the Matadors.
Cal Poly registered four additional attempts the remainder of the match, two of which were blocked by the Matador defense and one that was stopped by Abalos.
McLain finished with four saves for the Mustangs.