The Bears went undefeated this weekend as it faced off against one team from across the country and one team from across the bay: Yale and USF. The two games differed tremendously in pace and level of play but both produced the same outcome for the Cal men’s soccer team.
Cal’s performance against Yale was inconsistent, as the quality of play would oscillate between a series of triangular passes and periods where the ball was bouncing around in the air. Despite occasional lapses, however, the Bears’ ball skill trumped the Bulldogs and Cal was able to slot the ball through Yale’s defense on several occasions to create scoring opportunities. Going into the half, the score was 0-0 but Cal had out-tallied Yale in corners (5-3) and shots (7-1).
In the 51st minute, senior Aravind Sivakumar released a beautiful through ball and this time the Bears were successful with the goal conversion. Senior Jose Carrera-Garcia swiftly turned with the ball and dribbled from the outside of the 18-yard box toward the far left corner of the field. At the last second, he cut the last defender and hit a swift, on-the ground-shot to the far post of the goal. Looking nothing short of a professional, Garcia jogged to the side of the field, kissing his fingers and lifting them up into the air, while teammates run to hug and celebrate.
“As soon as I got the ball, I knew I had to go at the defender. It was a great pass by Aravind and I knew I had to beat the defender and go at the back post and finish,” Carrera-Garcia said.
The Cal goal succeeded in riling up the Bulldogs who, down only 1-0, continued to fight hard under the notion that only one goal would tie the game up. The Yale fire, however, was put out as the Bears did succeed in pressuring Yale for all 90 minutes of the game and shutting down any shot attempts, solidifying a Cal 1-0 win.
“In general, I am proud that they won a match and did not play anywhere close to their potential and that is not easy to do,” said Cal head coach Kevin Grimes. “Typically when you have an off day you might lose or tie. We had an off day and we got the win and I think that’s impressive.”
Cal changed their pattern of play drastically in the game against USF. While the Bears usually struggle to put a goal on the scoreboard in the first half, Cal managed to score within the first 48 seconds of the match with a penalty kick by Carrera-Garcia.
This goal was followed quickly by a USF rebuttal in the 5th minute to tie the score 1-1. Before 20 minutes had even been played the scored had been upped to 2-2 with a score by Shinya Kadono and a response by the Dons’ Bryce Kaminski.
The score stayed even until the 82nd minute of play when Kadono sunk his second goal of the game with a left-footed kick from eight yards out. With a final score of 3-2, the Bears went 2-0 for the weekend, and neither win could have been possible without the confidence in net of sophomore goalkeeper Drake Callender who is finishing his term at Pac-12 Player of the Week.
The dual wins give the Bears’ record a buffer for conference play beginning next week.
Lucy Schaefer covers men’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected]