H-SPORTS

Nov 2, 2012 7:05 PM by Andrew Masuda

Playoff fate on the line Saturday as Cal Poly soccer hosts rival UCSB

The nation's greatest college soccer rivalry resumes on Saturday in Alex G. Spanos Stadium as the Mustangs try to clinch a spot in the Big West Conference Tournament.

Cal Poly hosts rival UCSB in both teams' regular season finale. The Mustangs are 5-3-1 in Big West matches and tied for second with Sacramento State in the North Division. UCSB is 4-4-1 in conference and in fourth place and already out of contention for a postseason berth.

Sacramento State plays first place and 6-2-1 UC Davis on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs can clinch a spot in the postseason with a win over the Gauchos, which would also complete its first season sweep against UCSB since 1997. Cal Poly stunned the Gauchos 2-1 in overtime two weeks ago for its first win at UCSB since 1998.

Earlier this week Cal Poly won at UC Davis 1-0 on a goal from Mackenzie Pridham. The junior has 11 goals, the third most by a player in a single season in program history. Pridham also scored the golden goal against the Gauchos.

"We have to come out with a result or else we're probably done. So there's a lot of importance on those two points and on top of that it's against Santa Barbara, who's our big rivalry so this one is a big one," said Pridham.

Kickoff is at 7pm in Spanos Stadium. Last year's game at Cal Poly drew a sold out crowd of 11,075. Six of the fourteen largest crowds in NCAA regular season history have involved the Blue-Green Rivalry.

"It always lives up to the hype in so many different ways but we need to concentrate and focus on playing our game," said Cal Poly head coach Paul Holocher, who's team beat UCSB on a late penalty kick 2-1 in Spanos Stadium last October.

If Cal Poly loses, the Mustangs will not make the postseason because only the top two teams in the North Division qualify for the tournament and Sacramento State owns the tiebreaker with the Mustangs. If the Mustangs and Gauchos tie, Cal Poly would need UC Davis to beat the Hornets to advance to the postseason.

The semifinals are next Wednesday at the home of the higher seeded team. The North Division winner hosts the second place team from the South Division in the semifinal. The Championship game is Saturday, November 10.

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