Cal men’s soccer head coach Kevin Grimes likened the Bears’ 2-1 loss to Oregon State in Corvallis last night to a pin-ball game, and the hectic pace and back and forth nature makes it hard to argue. Where Cal was able to overcome the Beavers’ energy and tenacity to win 2-0 last week, it was less successful in this second matchup, ultimately falling in overtime.
In their first matchup against Oregon State, the Bears were initially thrown off by the Beavers change in formation right before game start. Taking nearly the entire first 45 minutes to adjust to the Beavers’ 3-5-2 formation, the Bears came out looking disheveled and slightly frantic before they made necessary changes at the half.
Last night, in the tenth minute the Beavers had their first break as Jaime Miralles capitalized on a ball that bounced off Cal defender from a slide tackle gone awry, creating a perfect breakaway opportunity for Oregon State. Miralles, after tallying his first goal, went on to record a near season-high of 5 shots by the end.
For the last 20 minutes of the first half, the Bears were unable to get a single shot off, or even manage a corner kick. Cal faced a similar situation this game where flat play in the first half necessitated major adjustments in pace of play, possession and intensity during halftime.
Rising to the occasion in the second half has become somewhat of a norm for the Bears who seemingly have been taking time to understand an opponent’s style of play after the game has already started. But this game showed that style can sometimes come up a little short, especially on the road.
“If you play a poor half, you have to hope that the second half when you do play well you end up capitalizing on the chances that you create,” Grimes said. “You have to play on that same level for the whole 90 minutes.”
The game remained scoreless until the 68th minute when senior Jose Carrera-Garcia was fouled in the box and converted his penalty kick to tie the game 1-1. This goal marks Carrera-Garcia’s fourth of the season and makes him the second-highest scorer for the Bears.
By the end of regulation time, Cal’s 10-second half shots hadn’t been enough and the tie game pushed onto a golden goal overtime. Seven minutes in, as sophomore keeper Drake Callendar came out of the goal to punch away an Oregon State shot attempt, the blocked ball hit Oregon State’s Hassani Dotson in the head, ricocheting into the goal, securing the Beavers’ 2-1 win over the Bears.
“Both of (the goals) were pinball, ricochet plays that you just don’t see a lot in a season and we saw two of them in one game. It just wasn’t meant to be today,” Grimes said.
Cal did not come out as the winners in the pinball game last night. While they may have gotten unlucky with a few arbitrary bounces that benefitted Oregon State, the loss should also motivate the Bears to examine their first half mentality and to bring energy at the outset of matchups.
Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]