SAN LUIS OBISPO – Senior forward Kaba Alkebulan opened the scoring Thursday evening, junior forward Jose Rivera found the match-winning goal 10 minutes from full time and senior forward Tyler Savitsky (above) capped the Cal Poly men's soccer team's 3-1 Big West Conference-opening victory with an 87th-minute goal as the Mustangs matched a program record with their fifth straight win.
With Thursday victory, Cal Poly (5-4-0) – which limited UC Riverside (0-8-0) to just one shot on goal – matched the program record for consecutive wins set by the 1994 Mustang squad and equalized in 2012 and 2013. During the five-game winning streak, Cal Poly has held opponents to just two goals in 450 minutes.
Despite Thursday's win, Cal Poly missed the opportunity to take full control of the Big West North Division standings as all four programs defeated their South Division opposition on the opening night of conference action.
Cal Poly looks to set a new program record consecutive victories when closing out a four-match home stand on Saturday, Sept. 30 versus Cal State Fullerton. Kickoff at Spanos Stadium is 7 p.m.
Cal Poly's notched Thursday's opening goal with the first shot attempt of the evening. Making a near the right touchline, Savitsky arced a pass upfield for Alkebulan, who trapped the ball with his chest and brought it to the turf. Alkebulan then fired his second goal of 2017 past UC Riverside goalkeeper Vincent Morales and toward the left post.
Held to just one shot during the opening 33 minutes, UC Riverside equalized with its only attempt on target. Highlander forward Anthony Lopez latched onto a ball played upfield and, after splitting Cal Poly freshman defender Freeman Dwamena and junior goalkeeper Simon Boehme, fired into an open net.
Into the second half, Cal Poly enjoyed shots on target from freshman forward Angle De Leon (51st minute), Savitsky (51') and Alkebulan (60') before sophomore midfielder Diego Alonso struck the post on 77 minutes.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 81st minute as senior defender Adam Olsen slipped a pass into the UC Riverside penalty area. Alkebulan corralled the ball and slipped. Rivera, however, came up with the errant ball in the scramble and pounded his second goal of the season and eventual match-winner past Morales.
Six minutes later, Savitsky notched his first goal as a Mustang. The Highlander defense failed to deal with a high ball played toward goal. Alonso controlled the ball and, with Morales drawn out from goal as the last line of defense, he played pass that Savitsky hit in stride into the back of the net.
Photo courtesy of Alexander Bohlen