SAN LUIS OBISPO – Junior midfielder Matt LaGrassa scored his team-leading fourth goal in the fourth minute Sunday afternoon, but Pacific equalized 10 minutes prior to halftime before notching the game-winning goal in the 79th as the Cal Poly men’s soccer program saw its six-match unbeaten run come to a close with a 2-1 loss to the Tigers at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Junior goalkeeper Wade Hamilton chalked up five saves for Cal Poly (5-2-1), which outshot Pacific (1-5-0) 21-12 and forced Tigers freshman goalkeeper Josh Adachi into eight saves. However, Pacific – making its Division I return after the program was dormant from 1985-2013 – produced the game winner on one of only two second-half shots on target.
“We had our chances to win it and just didn’t capitalize,” interim head coach Phil Ruskin said. “I thought (Pacific) was extremely well organized and did the right things defensively. We need to be more dangerous in attack and need to continue to defend well. We’re looking for consistent performances.”
Cal Poly, seeking a seven-match unbeaten run for the first time in seven years, scored with its first shot attempt Sunday as freshman forward Adam Olsen slid a pass from the right wing toward LaGrassa, who rounded Adachi and chipped his last defender for a 1-0 advantage.
Sophomore winger Justin Dhillon and LaGrassa both elicited saves from Adachi in the next eight minutes while at the other end of Spanos Stadium, Hamilton was forced into four saves inside the opening 22 minutes.
The Tigers eventually found the equalizer in the 36th minute as forward Tristan Blackmon flicked a ball into the Mustang penalty area for fellow freshman Tyson Fox, who bested Hamilton from eight yards.
Into the second half, Dhillon and LaGrassa once again put Adachi under pressure six minute in, but the Mustangs were unable to regain their lead.
Pacific, however, grabbed its second goal 11 minutes from time with freshman midfielder Richie Lee chipping for junior midfielder Kalei Gallarde, who fired past Hamilton.
Cal Poly’s best chance to equalize late came in the 89th as junior midfielder Chase Minter struck the crossbar before Olsen’s follow-up hit the left post.
Cal Poly continues its five-match home stand and closes the non-conference portion of its 2014 schedule when hosting Drake on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.