While next week is the start of conference play against two familiar opponents in San Diego State and No. 12 UCLA, this weekend is an unfamiliar one for the Cal men’s soccer team.
Friday’s 4:30 p.m. match at Edwards Stadium between Duquesne University (3-4-0) and the (3-2-1) Bears is the first time both schools have played against each other. Sunday’s noon match versus Loyola Marymount University (1-4-0) is the Bears’ first match against the Lions in over 10 years and the final non-conference game of the season.
But before the LMU game or conference play, the Bears look to formulate a plan of attack for Friday’s matchup with the Dukes’ dominating forwards. Forward Joshua Patterson leads the Dukes with nine points. Patterson and forward Karter Sell lead the team with four goals each, but Sell has scored the team’s only goal in its past two matches in a 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. In their two losses against Cleveland State and Pittsburgh, the Dukes hit 11 shots on goal, seven shot by Sell.
Two of Duquesne’s five losses have been by two goals while the other three have been by just one, including a 1-0 shutout at Penn State.
“They have a good attack [and] have played every team this year closely,” head coach Kevin Grimes said.
Despite Sunday’s tie against the University of San Francisco 0-0, in its previous two matches Cal scored nine goals while giving up just one to the University of Central Florida two weeks ago.
According to Grimes, the Bears will look to get into the same offensive groove, sharing the ball while trying to find open gaps in the defense, that finished plays against UCF and Houston Baptist earlier this month.
“Offensively, we need to finish our chances because we’re creating them and we’re doing well to get there,” forward Stefano Bonomo said. “We just need to put them in the net.”
The Bears aim to hit the back of the net for the first time in 10 days Friday.
“I think it’s sharpness in front of the goal, really,” said Grimes. “We had a good amount of chances against USF, and there were opportunities to finish goals. If we’re not creating chances, then I think we would be worried a little bit more.”
With a pool recovery this past Monday, a day off Tuesday, and the rest of the week to prepare for Friday’s match up, the Bears had two additional days of rest on the Dukes. The Dukes lost their second consecutive game against Cleveland State Tuesday.
Like the Dukes, LMU plays at Stanford Friday after two consecutive losses, including a 1-0 shutout against UCLA on Sunday. Cal has not been thinking too much about LMU.
“We need to take care of business and then move on from there,” midfielder Tony Salciccia said.
Andrew Davis covers men’s soccer.
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