Bronco soccer punch their ticket into the playoffs

By Daniel Tapia and Brandon Cummings, Nov. 1, 2022

On Oct. 28, the Cal Poly Pomona women’s soccer team hosted Cal State L.A. for their final home game of the 2022 season. Down four starters and knowing what was at stake, the Broncos fought for 90 minutes, forcing a 0-0 tie to secure the sixth and final spot in the California Collegiate Athletic Association playoffs.

This matchup carried major playoff implications as the Broncos held the No. 4 seed but could have easily dropped out of the playoff picture with a loss and with other teams in the conference winning.

Head coach Jay Mason praised his team for stepping up and accepting the challenge.

Courtesy of CPP Athletics

“Today was a lot of adjustments,” said Mason. “We are down four starters, so we had a lot of girls step up today which I’m really proud of. Knowing it was a big moment for those players to step in, it did take them a bit to settle into the game, but they eventually got it.”

Cal State L.A. came out aggressive and managed to win back-to-back corner kicks within the first five minutes of the game, but nothing came from either attempt thanks to a save from CPP goalkeeper Audrey Brown.

On the other end, the Broncos’ first attempt came at the 14-minute mark when forward Allyssa Larkin won a corner kick. The subsequent corner proved unsuccessful which marked the only true scoring chance for the Broncos in the first half.

Nothing else came from either side as the Broncos ended the first half with one shot and the Golden Eagles with five, leading to a scoreless tie headed into halftime.

Larkin spoke about the adjustments the team made coming out the half and knew that they needed to come out with more fight.

“In the first half we were playing with it too much in the back,” said Larkin. “We needed to focus on going forward quicker to get behind their line. It was working a lot better, and I felt we had a lot of fight.”

The second half differed from the first with more action and many scoring opportunities for the Broncos.

The first came in the 49th minute when Larkin sent a shot wide of the goal. Ten minutes later, CPP knocked on the door once again when forward Julia Lucero took her own shot from outside the box, sending it wide left.

In the 63rd minute, Larkin passed it out wide to defender Tove Lundborg who returned to sender on a well executed give-and-go down the sideline. Larkin then crossed it into the box, where Lucero came in and took the shot, spraying it right of the goal.

Minutes later, the Broncos won a free kick from 30 yards out. Midfielder Liberty Ortiz set and curved it perfectly into the top right of the goal. The Broncos appeared to take the lead, but Golden Eagles keeper Areli Reyes fully extended to send it out of bounds for the save of the match.

Off of the save, Larkin headed a corner that hit the crossbar which kept the game scoreless.

Despite no goals from their counterattacking strategy, the Bronco defense held firm to give the opponent no opportunities themselves.

Ortiz, who is coming off a defensive player of the week award, led the backline once again in a stellar performance.

“Defense is a hard position because a lot of the pressure is on you to dictate the game,” said Ortiz. “Even though you’re in the back not scoring goals, you need to make sure nobody scores on you and serve as the backbone of your team to influence the entire game.”

In the 78th minute, the Broncos came centimeters from taking the lead when Lucero headed another corner into the goal. Her header hit top woodwork, dropping the ball right back down onto the keeper’s line. Players and coaches screamed for a goal, but the referees did not award it, leaving the Broncos frustrated.

“Unfortunately, I think we had a goal, but it didn’t get called,” said Larkin.

With 10 minutes remaining, both teams gave it their all, each trying to secure a win. Though neither side caved, the scoreless tie result sent both teams to the CCAA playoffs.

For more information on the upcoming CCAA playoff schedule, visit the CPP women’s soccer website.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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