Blossoming Bears battle Bruins to begin Pac-12 blueprint

The youth are in revolt.

As the Bears prepare to face off against perennial Pac-12 power UCLA this Friday at 7:30 p.m., the Bears seem to be gathering a strong sense of youthful exuberance.

True freshman midfielder Seth Casiple is leading the team with five assists, true freshman midfielder Connor Hallisey is starting after impressing with his aggressive play and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kevin Peach is coming off a 10-save performance in the team’s shutout against Vermont last Friday.

Grimes sees this breakout success as a testament to the unflappable mentality of these young players.

“I look at all players on our team as team members,” Grimes said. “I don’t classify them by ‘freshman’ or ‘first year.’”

Peach, who Grimes confirms is making his first Pac-12 start at Drake Stadium in Los Angeles, seems to agree.

“The freshman have been such a huge part,” Peach said.

But why are the young guys just making their presence known now? Casiple didn’t have his first assist until a few games into the season, and Hallisey didn’t receive his first start until that same game.

“The team chemistry has improved and the new players are settling in,” Peach said. “The level of intensity is definitely heating up.”

It seems like this combination is coming just at the right time for the Bears, who are beginning the increasingly important part of their schedule. The credit for the quality play of the team could be partially given to Grimes, who after claiming “lineup changes need to be made,” subsequently inserted Peach into the starting lineup.

“When I said that, I didn’t mean making changes to specific players,” Grimes said. “I was referring to changes in the landscape of the team.”

Hopefully for Cal, Grimes’ modesty and belief in team unity will be a sound strategy against UCLA.

The No. 16 Bruins’ unquestioned leader is junior forward Chandler Hoffman, who already has nine goals to his name. Washington state native Kelyn Rowe adds a playmaking dimension to the midfield, contributing three goals and four assists thus far.

The national prominence of UCLA would generally faze some, but Grimes has no fear of national rankings or conference predictions.

“We’re not going to adjust our style of play specifically for this game,” Grimes said. “We need to be aware of good players, but more importantly we need to do what we do well.”

This calm, cool and collected attitude should serve the Bears well while making their move towards the future. But would Grimes step out of his general frame of mind and make a prediction?

“I wouldn’t make a prediction,” Grimes said. “That would be out of character.”

True to form.