SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – After both teams scored less than four minutes into the game, Cal Poly found the game winner in the 71st minute for a 2-1 home win over the Hornets Saturday night in San Luis Obispo.
Having already clinched the No. 2 seed in the Big West North for next week's conference tournament, Sacramento State (8-8-2, 4-5-1 Big West) concluded the regular season with a narrow defeat. The win kept Cal Poly (5-9-3, 3-5-2 Big West) in the hunt for the final Big West Tournament qualifying spot pending the UC Davis game at UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.
CSUN beat UC Riverside to claim the Big West South division title Saturday night. The loss put the Highlanders into the No. 3 seed from the division, meaning the Hornets will host UC Riverside in a first round Big West Tournament game next Saturday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m.
In their lone regular season meeting, UC Riverside scored a 2-0 win over Sacramento State at Hornet Field on Oct. 6. The Hornets outshot the Highlanders 15-8 in that game but placed only two shots on goal while UC Riverside had four shots on frame and tallied a goal in each half.
On Saturday night the Hornets were playing without senior Nate Nugen, the team's second leading scorer, and were in a quick hole. Just two minutes and 33 seconds into the game, a corner kick from Cal Poly's Christian Enriquez connected with teammate Bjorn Sandberg for a header inside the far post.
The lead would last for just one minute and two seconds. A Cal Poly foul permitted a Hornet free kick from 25 yards out to the right of the Mustang goal, and senior Bert Corona sent a ball into the Mustang box that bounced, untouched, over the Mustang goalkeeper and into the left side of the home goal.
The goal by Corona came on the only shot on goal of the first half for the Hornets. However, Corona did come close to a second goal as he hit the post with a shot in the 17th minute.
Cal Poly had a 9-4 edge in shots in the first half and put four tries on goal. The Mustangs had a 6-1 shot edge in the second half and the only Hornet shot on goal from senior Alex Bettencourt in the 54th minute was stopped by goalkeeper Eric Kam.
Cal Poly scored the go-ahead goal in the 71st minute when Ruben Duran sent a ball from the right side and Sebastian Herran put in a shot straight away from 15 yards.
Junior James Del Curto finished with five saves for the Hornets. Cal Poly had a 7-2 edge in shots on goal for the game and a 7-5 advantage on corner kicks. All three goal scorers in the game tallied their first goals of the season.
The winner of the Big West Tournament first round matchup between Sacramento State and UC Riverside next Saturday will go on to play at CSUN, the No. 1 seed in the South, on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in the semifinal round.