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Bears strike first to sweep weekend matches

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2012

When the Cal men’s soccer team (5-2-1) scores the first goal in a match, the Bears win. In all five victories this season, Cal has scored the first goal of the match.

This weekend was no different as the Bears scored first against Duquesne University on Friday and Loyola Marymount University on Sunday, winning 4-1 and 1-0 respectively.

It took just seven minutes and 56 seconds for forward Stefano Bonomo to solidify the Bears’ win over LMU (2-5-1) at Edwards Stadium. Midfielder Tony Salciccia kicked the ball at LMU’s goalkeeper Paul Blanchette, who failed to grasp possession of the ball—Bonomo then tapped the ball into the net. That goal was Bonomo’s third of the weekend after scoring two in the second half versus Duquesne.

“The guys were good at keeping ball possession early in the game,” head coach Kevin Grimes said after the LMU match. “The highlight (of the game) was just the number of chances we created.”

Unlike the match against the Lions, the first goal in the Bears’ match against Duquesne on Friday came in the 40th minute when midfielder Tyler Simkins assisted forward Kyle Lunt’s open look at the goalkeeper, his second goal of the season.

Bonomo scored the Bears’ second and fourth goals of the match while Salciccia scored the Bears’ third one on a penalty kick.

“Offensively, we had a lot of courage to go find the ball, take shots and take players on,” Salciccia said after the Duquesne match. “We’re playing together and we’re attacking together as a unit.”
In both halves of the LMU match, Cal missed opportunities to extend the 1-0 lead, missing the goalpost by a few inches. But one goal was all the Bears needed.

According to goalkeeper Kevin Peach, when teams like Duquesne and LMU try to play the ball behind the Bears’ defense, the Bears’ defenders have been sticking with runners while maintaining vocal communication.

Such defensensive assertiveness prevents shots and gives the offense more chances to score. This weekend, Duquesne and LMU had just 10 and five shots respectively, compared to the Bears’ 34 total shots.

Peach saved a total of seven shots including a header by forward Pedro Velazquez with a little more than 11 minutes to go.

“It’s not me,” Peach said. “It’s my defense that has come up huge the past four games.”
Despite the defensive dominance recently, with a little fewer than 33 minutes left in the LMU match, defender Ted Jones was carried off of the field with an injured knee.

Grimes is unsure what the injury is as of now.

In spite of a top defender potentially out, Grimes is confident his Bears are ready for the battle. Finishing last place in the Pac-12 last season without a single win is a big motivator for a team that is ranked second in the Pac-12 as far as pre-conference rankings go.

“We are a more experienced team, we are a fitter team, we are a harder team,” Grimes said. “You put all those factors in (and) that’s why the guys are having a good season.”

Contact Andrew Davis at 

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SEPTEMBER 23, 2012


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