SAN LUIS OBISPO – Freshman forward Kaba Alkebulan (right) notched his first career two-goal game – including scoring the overtime game-winner in the 92nd minute – as the Cal Poly men's soccer program vanquished CSUN on Sunday afternoon inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium, 2-1.
Junior goalkeeper Wade Hamilton added six saves for Cal Poly (6-2-3, 1-0-1), which stayed unbeaten in nine of its last 10 games and improved to 5-1-2 at home this season despite being outshot by CSUN (4-6-1, 0-2-0), 18-10. Sunday's victory also marked Cal Poly's first home win against the Matadors since 2009 and first overtime victory since topping Yale 3-2 on Sept. 23, 2013 (the Mustangs had drawn their previous five matches that went to overtime).
"It's a testament to our guys to have the internal drive and will to find the game-winner and overcome a late goal," interim head coach Phil Ruskin said. "More importantly, our guys have been challenged by the staff to overcome things no matter what happens. I feel we're finally stepping up and answering our call."
Junior captain Matt LaGrassa enjoyed Sunday's first three shot attempts inside the opening 12 minutes and Cal Poly's best chance to strike early occurred in the 11th, with CSUN junior goalkeeper Adam Hobbs seeing yellow for hauling down Alkebulan outside the penalty area. Cal Poly's free kick opportunity, however, went awry.
CSUN produced the game's first shot on target with midfielder Nicolas Camacho turned away by Hamilton in the 27th. Hamilton then came up with his most important saves of the day in the 37th, as he thwarted both senior forward Sagi Lev-Ari and junior midfielder Marino Peixoto six seconds apart to preserve the scoreless deadlock.
"Wade gives us a chance to win games and keep us in games," Ruskin said. "He has kept us in games that we've ultimately lost and he's a big part as to why we win games. He's an invaluable asset to our team."
Attempts by LaGrassa and freshman midfielder Joseph Bolous forced saves from Hobbs either side of halftime before Cal Poly finally broke through in the 56th as sophomore forward John Chronopoulos picked out Alkebulan off the right sideline. Alkebulan carried the ball toward the end line before rounding Hobbs and firing near the right post and into the left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Hamilton chalked up two more saves after Alkebulan's goal to keep the Mustangs in front. CSUN, however, squared the match with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation as Peixoto took an upfield pass from senior forward Edwin Rivas and shot over Hamilton.
Undeterred, Cal Poly hit back with the first shot attempt of overtime with LaGrassa feeding Alkebulan in transition. In a one-versus-one situation, Alkebulan secured the second two-goal game by a Mustang this year by firing past Hobbs inside the penalty area.
"Kaba put in a shift today. He's one of our most competitive players in training and wants to do well and succeed," Ruskin said "He's definitely improving in terms of technical ability on the ball and finishing chances. He's a warrior. That's the biggest thing we can say.
"I also want to give a lot of credit to John, Chase Minter and Joseph. Chase and Joe did really well today playing out of position, as did John. We had a lot of good performances today from multiple players."
Cal Poly opens a three-match road trip when visiting UC Riverside on Friday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m.