SAN LUIS OBISPO – Senior forward Justin Dhillon (above) recorded the ninth hat trick in the Cal Poly men's soccer program's 23-year Division I era Sunday afternoon and freshman midfielder Kenneth Higgins chipped in his first collegiate goal as the Mustangs eased past Fresno Pacific in their 2016 home opener at Alex G. Spanos Stadium, 4-1.
Junior goalkeeper Eric Kam chalked up a career high five saves for Cal Poly (1-4-0), which picked up its first win of 2016 by outshooting Fresno Pacific (1-1-1), 14-11.
Dhillon, who notched career goals 10, 11 and 12 to become just the 14th player in program history with a double-digit career goal total, scored 83 after kickoff and then twice in 42 seconds early in the second half. The hat trick was the first by a Mustang since forward Mackenzie Pridham (2009-13) placed three goals past Air Force in a 5-1 win (Sept. 27, 2013) and the first at Spanos Stadium since forward David Zamora (2007-10) scored all three goals in a 3-1 victory against CSUN (Oct. 24, 2009).
Dhillon now ranks 10th in Cal Poly program history with 12 career goals and 34 points.
Dhillon provided Cal Poly the only lead of the match 83 seconds into action by first earning a free kick on the left edge of the Fresno Pacific penalty box and then converting the opportunity from 28 yards.
Just 68 seconds later, Higgins ran onto a loose ball in the Sunbirds penalty area and fired past Fresno Pacific goalkeeper Matias Fernandez.
At the other end of Spanos Stadium, Cal Poly held Fresno Pacific without a shot attempt until Kam chalked up his first save of Sunday in the 35th minute. He added a second save six minutes later and then three in the second half to preserve Cal Poly's lead.
Dhillon notched his second goal of the day four minutes after the restart after taking a cross from sophomore defender Nick Carroll and firing from the right edge of the Fresno Pacific penalty area.
Just 42 seconds later, Dhillon latched onto an errant ball in the penalty box and bested Fernandez once more to complete the hat trick.
Dhillon nearly became the first player in Cal Poly's Division I era to record a four-goal match, but saw a header corralled by Fresno Pacific reserve goalkeeper Brandon Gettman in the 76th minute.
Fresno Pacific, ranked 14th in the Sept. 6 edition of the NSCAA Division II poll, pulled its lone goal back in the 53rd minute with Sergio Segura scoring his first of 2016.
Cal Poly's three-match home stand continues on Saturday, Sept. 17 versus No. 13 San Diego State at 7 p.m.