Cal men’s soccer coach Kevin Grimes sure knows how to fulfill a promise.
Last week following a tough loss, Grimes made the declaration that he needed to make “significant lineup changes,” leaving an open interpretation as to what he meant.
Grimes’ installation of backup goalie Kevin Peach materialized that assertion, as the redshirt freshman led Cal to a 3-0 win over Vermont (5-2-0) on Friday in the Bears’ only contest in the Stanford Nike Classic at Stanford Stadium.
Peach, who was making his debut for the Bears (3-2-2), played magnificently. Despite a flurry of shots from the Catamounts’ side, Peach stepped up and made 10 saves, preserving a Cal tie through the first half and maintaining the lead as the Bears tacked on three goals in the final 45 minutes.
Not to be outdone by a stellar defensive performance, the Bears’ offense showed resiliency after a first-half drought in which the Bears failed to attempt a single shot on goal.
The drought did not last long, however. In the 55th minute, Michael Munoz headed in a goal on an assist from breakout freshman Seth Casiple to put the Bears up, 1-0.
Not even 10 minutes later, a foul in the Vermont penalty box gave Cal a chance for a penalty kick to build a two-score advantage. Tony Salciccia, the nimble junior midfielder, stepped up and rocketed the ball into the back of the net to give a Cal a 2-0 advantage.
The scoring barrage continued in the 74th minute when super sub Michael Shaddock took a long pass from defender Chris Ortega and beat Vermont goalie Dave Ramada in a one-on-one opportunity to finish the scoring.
Dave Ramada, the Catamount goalkeeper, wasn’t as fortunate as Peach. Despite Cal’s 16 fewer shots and paltry three shots on goal, Ramada was unable to save anything, enabling the conversion of all three shots on goal and finishing the day without a save.
The Bears played impressively despite the 80-degree weather, which hampered the physical conditions of both teams.
“It was a good team performance in some difficult heat today,” Grimes said.
The Bears’ youthful contributions were once again a bright spot in their last match of non-conference play. Casiple tacked on his team-leading fifthassist, and freshman Connor Hallisey was given his second consecutive start.
“As a group, I feel the freshman are becoming more confident and relaxed,” Casiple said. “We’re spending more time with the team and a lot of the nervousness that comes with expectations are wearing off.”
The recent play of Casiple and Hallisey is undoubtedly a testament to the improved performance of the young players.
The Vermont match wraps up Cal’s non-conference schedule. The Bears finished their preseason play with a 3-2-2 record.
But the Bears may soon miss the cushy confines of their non-conference matchups. A formidable Pac-12 stretch awaits the club, with the likes of UCLA, and Stanford on the schedule in the next 10 days.