Cal men’s soccer to meet winless Santa Clara

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This Friday, Cal men’s soccer will meet a Santa Clara team that, through seven games, has been unable to notch a win. For the Bears, though, the allure of taking on a team with that record will have little effect on either preparation and mentality.

“Their record wouldn’t change their strengths and weaknesses at all,” said Cal head coach Kevin Grimes. “They could be 7-0 and their strengths and weaknesses would be the same, so I don’t think a record of an opponent would ever change the way you prepare for them. They’re still going to have really strong players, and they’re still going to have strengths on the field that you have to be aware of.”

There’s more to that 0-7 than meets the eye, too. Of the seven opponents that the Broncos have faced this season, five of them are either in the top 25 or have received votes (Maryland, West Virginia, SMU, Seattle and Washington). They may not be winning games, but their strength of schedule is unmatched.

Wins and losses aside, Santa Clara’s performance last week especially demonstrated its hunger to get that first win any way that it can. Last Sunday against Washington, the Broncos fell just shy of overcoming a 3-goal deficit, scoring twice within the final minutes of the second half. There’s no doubt that coming oh-so-close to a win will be a motivating factor for the Broncos on Friday.

Unfortunately for Santa Clara, the main factor standing directly between it and a win in Berkeley is standout sophomore goalie Drake Callender. Callender was named Pac-12 Player of the Week following a nine-save performance at Portland two weeks ago, and he followed it up with nine more during a weekend double header (three against Yale and six against USF). The nine saves at Portland were not only a career high for Callender, but they also included one that kept Cal alive in the 90th minute of play and sent the game into overtime.

Cal will also look to continue the trend set in its last game against USF: scoring early. The Bears had previously struggled to get on the board early, but with a penalty kick goal by redshirt senior midfielder Jose Carrera-Garcia just 48 seconds in, followed by an 11th-minute goal by junior midfielder Shinya Kadono, they were able to turn the tides.

“That was a nice trend, we scored a couple early goals. I think we were a little disappointed that we gave up 2 early goals, as well,” said Grimes. “But I think the game settled in after that, after that first 20 minutes where it ended up being about 2-2, and we played better as it went along.”

Cal last faced Santa Clara back in 2015, and the Broncos managed to upset the 20th-ranked Bears. That loss, though, is far from anyone’s mind heading into Friday.

According to Grimes, “It was so long ago, and we’re just looking forward to playing really.”

Adriana Ghiozzi covers men’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].