Going into the first game of the 2009-2010 season with a little over a week of practice, there was less apprehension than expected among the Mustangs. However, a mix of new players and new positions along with a hard-pressing defense from UC Davis proved to be too much for Cal Poly to handle. The first half saw Davis capitalize on a couple of key Cal Poly mistakes in their own half, and Davis was up quickly 10-0. Once the Mustangs caught their breath after these two scores, things seemed to be turning in their favor. Because of good pressure from Cal Poly and repeated penalties by UC Davis, Cal Poly had the ball within five meters of scoring numerous times in the last 25 minutes of the first half. Yet poor execution and careless ball handling led to a turnover every time the Mustangs got close. Eventually, fullback and captain Martine Phelan was able to slot a penalty goal in from 30 meters out to inch the Mustangs closer- 10-3 Davis at halftime.
Cal Poly was optimistic coming out of halftime that they could turn the game around and come together as a cohesive unit for 40 more minutes. With strong forward play, the Mustangs were able to get the ball into the try zone for the first time in the game, but it would also be the last. Once they scored, things seemed to come out from under the Mustangs. It was a combination of issues that, for the most part, came down to the team dynamic and team cohesiveness which can only be solved through more time together as a full 15. To Davis’s credit, they never let up and continually pressured the Mustangs in their own half which lead to their three scores in the second half. For the most part it wasn’t Cal Poly’s defense that failed, but mistakes on offense that continued to haunt them. The final score was 29-8, and Cal Poly was handed a loss for its first game of the season.
Both the second and third sides performed very well and both came through with wins in two hard fought battles against UC Davis second side and Fresno State, respectively. There have been extremely high numbers out for the Mustangs this year and there seems to be no lack of skill or dedication in the current rookie class.
Looking ahead, Cal Poly has a few more weeks of practice, with a break in between for Thanksgiving, before they head up to Chico to take on the Wildcats on December 5th. Until then, Cal Poly will continue to improve and will be ready to take Chico head-on.