Yep, you heard right, folks: It’s panic time for the Cal men’s soccer team.
After a tie against Oregon State and a double overtime loss to Washington this past weekend, the Bears are now 0-3-2 in conference play, which has earned them the prestigious position of last place in the Pac-12.
“Team chemistry” and “faith,” two oft-used cliches to describe the success of a succeeding team, are off the table at this point.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) for Cal, its opponents this weekend are very familiar. Oregon State and Washington, the squad’s fearsome foes from the week before, are on the slate for a 5 p.m. Friday game at Corvallis and a 1 p.m. Sunday game in Seattle, respectively.
Amid the chaos of six Bears departing for the MLS and a heavily represented underclassman roster (14 freshmen, no seniors), Cal finds itself in the middle of a goalie controversy.
Although Robbie Gogatz has started the majority of games in goal for the Bears, a costly decision in overtime against Washington last Sunday may spell the end of his reign. Kevin Peach, the redshirt freshman who played admirably for three games and was promptly sat down, patiently awaits his chance to be plucked from the proverbial tree.
Put these all together and the final product is a winless-in-conference-play soccer team.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that the “Pac-12” is actually only six teams, and two wins would bring Cal out of the depths of last place inferiority.
And Oregon State (3-8-2) isn’t exactly a frightening, UCLA-sized opponent, either. The Beavers’ first win came against lowly Sacramento State a few games into the season. the Bears and Oregon State comprise the bottom half of the Pac-12 cellar, with the Beavers only being able to muster a single victory so far in conference play.
But the good news is brief.
Cal’s mediocrity has been on the rise since its dramatic 3-2 victory over then-No.15 Kentucky on Sept. 16. The Bears have one win since that victory more than a month ago, with four overtime contests failing to fall in their favor.
At this point, Cal has little hope of replicating last year’s dramatic run towards the national championship. However, the team could salvage its season with a run of wins starting with Oregon State and Washington this weekend.
Junior John Fitzpatrick has been a sign of hope for the befallen Bears, scoring twice in the last three games, including a beautiful headed effort against Washington on Sunday.
Freshman Connor Hallisey has also played impressively. After starting the season as a reserve, Hallisey has become one of the team’s standout players, initiating long runs up the left side and providing beautifully placed crosses.
However, these are just two players, and to the dismay of many, the rules require 11 players to be on the field. If Cal desires to salvage what’s left of its season, this weekend swing of games could be its last shot.