A flurry of nifty tricks did not faze the Cal men’s soccer team in Sunday’s contest at Edwards Stadium, but an impressive display of fundamental soccer ability ultimately spelled the Bears’ demise in double overtime.
Cal (3-5-4, 0-3-2 in the Pac-12) had no trouble deflecting the novelty of the threatening presence of Washington defender Michael Harris’s world renowned flip-throw in. However, a questionable decision on the part of goalie Robby Gogatz allowed midfielder Brent Richards to capitalize with a golden-goal in a 2-1 victory for Washington (8-3-2, 3-2-0).
A breakaway run up the right side by Washington midfielder Jacob Hustedt led him to a one-on-one opportunity with Gogatz, who made the split-second decision to rush Hustedt. Hustedt sidestepped Gogatz and put a cross into Brent Richards, who was ready with a header in front of an empty net.
However, more of Washington’s scoring chances came as a byproduct of the Harris’s acrobatic throw in. But the tactic didn’t catch coach Kevin Grimes’ squad off guard.
“We’ve seen it before,” Grimes said about Harris unique ability. “It’s a useful tool but it’s nothing we haven’t seen.”
The flip-throw in has been a point of pride for Harris and his squad. The throw in, which Harris executes by doing a perfect form front flip immediately followed by a throw that can reach the goalie box from midfield, was deployed whenever the squad had a throw in opportunity in an attacking position.
“It’s more athletic ability than soccer ability,” freshman midfielder Connor Hallisey said.
Regardless of whether Cal sees the throw as relevant to soccer, it produced two corner kicks and multiple scoring opportunities for the Huskies.
Harris, who has been perfecting the throw since his middle school days in Shoreline, Wash., was relatively ineffective on the defensive side of the ball, as Hallisey penetrated a gaping hole in the Huskies’ defense to set up Cal’s first goal of the game.
“I had the ball and hit Christian (Dean) on an overlap, who played a perfect cross to Fitzy,” Hallisey said.
Washington struck back mere moments later, as a Cal defensive mishap allowed Richards an easy opportunity for a tap-in in front of the goal.
The Bears were fairly consistent on the offensive front but squandered a fair amount of goal scoring opportunities.
In the 11th minute, freshman midfielder Bobby Sekine had an ambitious try from outside the 18 that almost grazed the far post as it sailed past the goal. Almost 10 minutes later, sophomore midfielder Alec Sundly had an opportunity to take advantage of a hole in the Huskies’ defense, but his finesse shot rolled just past the far left post.
The story continued into the second half. In the 61st minute, Hallisey initiated a beautiful run up the left side, but the opportunity was squandered, as an errant back heel pass from Sundly had no recipient on the other end.