It’s the 119th minute of the biggest soccer match of the year. The score: Cal Poly, 2 and UCSB, 2. The Spanos Stadium, which seats 11,075 people, is full but you could hear a pin drop. With the game only moments away from ending and season-long bragging rights on the line, Cal Poly has earned a corner quick. Seconds seemed like hours as Cal Poly Junior, Jack O’Connor lofted in a beautiful cross towards the box. The stadium erupted in an alcohol-fueled frenzy, and Cal Poly students (mustangs) charged the field unlike any stampede ever seen before. Just another chapter in the Blue-Green rivalry.
If you are somewhat familiar with collegiate soccer than odds are you have heard of the Blue-Green rivalry between the Mustangs of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and the Gauchos of the University of California at Santa Barbara. It was chosen as the #1 rivalry in the nation by collegesoccernews.com and for good reason. The level of competitiveness, intensity and genuine respect on both sides for each other’s program and school (while the game is going on is a different story) is unparalleled. When asked about the best part of going to Cal Poly-UCSB games, Cal Poly Junior and Agricultural Business major Steven Partie described it in one word: “Rivalry.” “It is the one thing that both our schools get excited about when it comes to sports because it embodies more than just sports. It’s who we are,” says Partie. Not surprisingly UCSB Senior and Finance major Steven Carlisle had an almost identical answer. “The rivalry provides something more to cheer for, as Cal Poly and UCSB are often compared in more aspects than just soccer,” says Carlisle.
Although the competition can be fierce (both on and off the pitch) and the cheers from both Gaucho and Mustang fans can be nasty, the rivalry has a way of bringing together two communities. Both Isla Vista and San Luis Obispo seem to shut down come game day. For two universities held in high academic regard and typically not referred to as “sports schools,” this is the opportunity for students to get a taste of elite level athletics. Steven Carlisle described the experience as an “outlet for students to come around a team, de-stress, get rowdy and show school spirit.” An experience like the Blue-Green rivalry is one the community and the student body on both campuses long for. “During an extremely stressful time in our lives, it’s awesome to see our community come together and show true school spirit,” says Partie.
The Blue-Green rivalry is about much more than soccer. It represents two communities of people who have similar attributes and aspirations. It embodies two student populations whose genuine appreciation for competition and sportsmanship are unlike anywhere else in the country. “It’s like a Tom and Jerry rivalry,” says Partie. “During the games we are gunning for each other, and it can get pretty gruesome. But, after the game our competitiveness fades away. Our respect for one another kicks in. Now, after it’s all over, its time for us to party!