Three games in and the Cal men’s soccer team is still looking for their first win in the Pac-12.
That’s a little alarming, to say the least, for the reigning Pac-10 champions.
With two losses and a draw, reclaiming the title isn’t out the question just yet for the Bears. But they will need to start pulling in some strong results in order to make that a reality and ensure they can receive a high seed for the NCAA Tournament.
“We have had our ups and downs so far,” co-captain Anthony Salciccia said. “But we never lose faith, all we can do is control the things we can and hope that the results come.”
Cal (3-4-3, 0-2-1 in the Pac-12) can start to right the ship at Edwards Stadium on Friday at 4 p.m. against Oregon State and Sunday at 2 p.m. against Washington.
At this point last season, Cal had scored 12 goals and only let in one. These statistics are in stark contrast with their current numbers: two goals scored and four conceded.
Nine of those goals were scored against Oregon State and Washington – the two teams they face this weekend.
When the Bears lined up against the Beavers (3-7-1, 1-2-0) and Huskies (6-3-1, 1-2-0) at home in 2010, Cal won both the games 2-1 in double overtime. When the Bears traveled away to face those teams, their victories were much more convincing, 5-0 and 4-1, respectively.
Even though Cal had tighter matches with these opponents at home last year, the Bears are looking forward to playing before upwards of 300 fans at Edwards Stadium this weekend.
“Being at home is comfortable, you don’t have to deal with the travel or all the others fans,” freshman midfielder Seth Casiple said. “Going away definitely becomes a harder experience.”
In men’s soccer, the Pac-12 is really the Pac-6. The shortage of six teams means that each team plays each other twice, home and away.
Cal will have to square off against Oregon State and Washington again exactly one week later. It’s a quick turn around, but the Bears feel that this something they will use to their advantage.
“You get two times to have a stab at someone,” co-captain Steven Birnbaum said. “You get to know the team’s strengths and weaknesses so we can try to exploit the weaknesses in those games and do the best we can.”
This weekend, however, the Bears will be focused on their own play. The players will look to control their work rate and make sure to do the simple things right – a solid pass out wide or jumping up high to win that 50-50 ball in the air.
“We’re all best friends off the field,” Birnbaum said. “We just want to play good soccer and developing that team chemistry on the field will inevitably come,” Birnbaum said.