Some hail from the campus that overlooks the water in Santa Barbara and some call San Luis Obispo home.
What happens when the two communities in central California clash on the men’s soccer field?
It’s a battle of epic proportions.
“It’s the best rivalry in the country and I’ve been all over in so many different capacities,” said Cal Poly men’s soccer coach Steve Sampson. “I don’t think that there are two campuses that get behind their men’s soccer teams as much as these two campuses do.”
Said Mustangs senior Matt Lagrassa, “It’s a very special rivalry, it’s unlike any other because it’s college soccer.”
This season, the two teams will likely draw over 11,000 people each when the rivalry first takes place at Alex G. Spanos Stadium in San Luis Obispo and then Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara.
“It’s always so loud,” said Mustang senior Chase Minter. “Our fans are really good about staying engaged and it’s not often that happens in college soccer.”
Unable to hear their teammates on the field, Lagrassa and Minter described the challenge communicating on the pitch during the matchup, but the noise is one of the best parts.
“Our field is a little bit more narrow because it’s a football stadium in nature and it’s built in a way that the crowd kind of sits on top of the field,” said Lagrassa. “The noise is really held in because the bleachers stand so tall.”
The noise begins early in San Luis Obispo as students, family, fans and soccer faithful start gathering and lining up to get into the stadium around two-to-three hours before kickoff.
“I remember my freshman year, there was a line halfway up campus by the time we got to the locker room two hours before the game,” said Lagrassa reminiscing.
“I’ll never forget any of these games,” added the senior. “The memories that get made during this experience, I’m so grateful that I get to be a part of them. Win, lose, draw, you’re not forgetting that experience and the energy that you get to be a part of.”
On top of the bragging rights on the line, “The games always tend to have lots of meaning,” said Sampson.
No. 13 UC Santa Barbara and No. 24 Cal Poly both fell to their opponents earlier this week up north and look to reestablish themselves in the win-column tonight at CP.
“It comes down to who can do the details better,” said Minter. “It’s going to be which front-11 can focus on their details and do their jobs better than the person opposite them. It’s getting down and doing what you do best and doing it better than the other team.”
Sampson divulged that the team will not stray from their normal routine before the game and added that the matchup is motivation enough for his squad.
“Your heartbeat’s racing and there are so many good players around you and playing with you that it’s an incredible experience,” stated Minter.
Whether the Mustangs or the Gauchos come out on top, one thing is certain: the pride runs deep in the Blue-Green Rivalry.