Going into Sunday’s match, the Cal men’s soccer team and Kentucky were both ranked No. 15 — albeit in two different polls, Soccer America and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, respectively.
It proved to be as tight and enthralling of a matchup as their rankings would indicate, as the Bears defeated the Wildcats, 3-2, to capture the Cal Legacy Classic at Edwards Stadium.
Sophomore Kyle Marsh scored his first goal of his Cal career — the game winning goal — with less than 20 minutes to play on a header from inside the penalty box.
“I am really pleased with our result,” Marsh said. “I saw the cross coming in, just made sure it was on frame and it went in the back of the net.”
Cal (2-1-2) fought its way back from a 2-1 score line to win the game in dramatic fashion. The two teams went into the halftime break scoreless, but the second half provided flowing and entertaining play from end-to-end.
The Bears went up 1-0 at the start of the second half, thanks to Kyle Lunt’s first goal of his junior campaign. But the ensuing 10 minutes after Cal’s first score were full of frenzy as Kentucky (4-2-1) responded with two of its own goals to not only level the scores, but subsequently take the lead. Junior forward John Fitzpatrick didn’t waste any time, however, and supplied his squad with his second goal of the season to make it 2-2.
“We were down a goal and it’s good to see that we have character to come back,” Fitzpatrick said. “We had some nice goals with great build-up, they weren’t scrap goals.”
The Bears were able to find the width of the field and use it to their advantage. And it was that tactic that broke down the Kentucky defense and led to its demise — each goal came off a cross and header combination.
“Seth (Casiple) keeps possession really well and his crosses were on point today,” Marsh said. “That’s how we got all three goals.”
Casiple’s involvement was clear in all the notable attacking moments for his squad. The freshman midfielder assisted on each of the three goals and was named to the All-Tournament Team.
“His eyes were up the whole game just picking out players,” Fitzpatrick said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better ball for my goal.”
Coming off of Friday’s 1-1 draw against unranked Lehigh, Cal was more disciplined and determined to end its first home weekend on a high note.
“It was a tough result, we just didn’t put away our chances,” Casiple said.” That was not the case today.”
The win gave the Bears the title for the tournament, based on their better goal differential than Lehigh. Still, Cal has room to improve, especially off the field, where it still needs to build its team chemistry.
“We’re a young team and haven’t all played together too much yet,” Marsh said. “That’s a big thing, and we’re getting the hang of it.”
On the field, the players are looking to keep consistent and make sure everything is clicking. Even with another home game against Santa Clara looming this weekend, the Bears won’t be doing anything differently come practice time.
“We’re just going to keep executing,” junior goalkeeper Robby Gogatz said. “We don’t do anything special for anyone.”