Bears draw even with mighty Aztecs

Even with the daylight-saving time change this Sunday, the Cal men’s soccer team is still running short on time to secure its first Pac-12 victory.

A 1-1 tie at the hands of San Diego State on Sunday at Edwards Stadium left the Bears with just one more opportunity to avoid the infamy of a winless conference season.

“It was a good step forward for our team, and hopefully it propels us towards next week’s game against Stanford,” coach Kevin Grimes said.

The first half started slowly, with Cal (3-8-5, 0-6-3 in the Pac-12) creating few scoring opportunities and preferring a strategy of low percentage home run passes instead of playing its usual controlled possession game.

In the first 10 minutes, redshirt sophomore goalie Robbie Gogatz made two mistakes, allowing a ball to bounce off his head on one cross and letting a ball squirm through his fingertips on another.

Gogatz’s woes continued in the 44th minute, when a corner kick evaded his outstretched arms and found the head of Aztec (10-5-3, 7-1-3) midfielder Gemechu Abraham, who easily headed in the ball into a relatively open goal.

In the second half, Grimes made the decision to sit Gogatz and play Kevin Peach. Peach and Gogatz have been the subject of controversy of late, as Grimes has intermittently and inexplicably traded off starting the two underclassmen goalkeepers.

“Robbie’s been playing a bit more than Kevin (Peach) lately, so I wanted to get Kevin some reps,” Grimes said.

The Peach substitution created a collective shift in energy for the Bears, as the defense held strong for the remainder of the second half. In the 50th minute, freshman midfielder Seth Casiple pounded a shot into the upper left corner to even the score at 1-1.

The score remained tied as the match went into the overtime period, which has been a common occurrence for Cal. The match spelled Cal’s seventh overtime match of the season.

Scoring opportunities were abundant for the Bears in the extra period. In the second overtime, a San Diego State defensive mishap gave midfielder Tony Salciccia a one-on-one opportunity with the Aztec keeper. His left-footed shot rolled just left of the crossbar, however, leaving Cal once again empty handed.

Freshman Christian Dean stood out among the rest of the Bears in the contest. Playing out of his position at left back, Dean led multiple runs up the left side while keeping the Aztec forwards at bay. Dean also assisted on Cal’s only goal, providing a perfectly placed cross to the feet of Casiple.

“Christian did great,” Grimes said, agreeing that Dean would be a key cog in the future of Cal defenses.

Freshman midfielder Connor Hallisey assumed a prominent role for the Bears today, orchestrating multiple attacks in the second half and almost scoring in the second overtime period, narrowly missing an opportunity to become the hero.