A 1-0 score is arguably the most frustrating outcome imaginable in soccer for either competitor. Up 1-0, the leader is nervous that any play can tie the game. Even more anxiety-inducing is being down 1-0, knowing that if only one of your several shots sneaks past the goalkeeper, it would be an entirely different game.
In this sense, the No. 22 Cal men’s soccer team (11-6, 6-4) ended the regular season in a disheartening manner, falling 1-0 to its conference rivals at Stanford (15-2-1, 9-1). While a defeat, the Bears’ 1-0 is not at all a shameful score against one of the top teams in the nation.
In the first half, Cal outshot Stanford 9-6 and kept the score tied 0-0. The Bears were able to jump aggressively to every ball, and they successfully shut down the Cardinal’s offensive advances. Even more, as Cal got shots off, they were able to force corner kicks on multiple instances in the first 45 minutes, which opened the door to other potential goal-scoring opportunities.
Cal kept the game scoreless well into the second half until Stanford senior Foster Langsdorf scored in the 75th minute of the game by jumping on a loose ball bouncing around the box. This goal boosted Langsdorf to the top of the list as the Pac-12 all-time high scorer.
Stanford, the defending national champions, outpaced the Bears in the second half by 12 shots to 1, taking advantage of Cal’s fatigue and using the opportunity to move the ball around in order to solidify the Cardinal win.
The low score is indicative of stellar goalkeeping and defense by both teams. Sophomore goalkeeper Drake Callender was successful in blocking multiple series of Stanford shots. In the 66th minute, he was berated by four consecutive shots within 60 seconds, thwarting three and watching one go high.
Senior Jose Carrera-Garcia also in an impressive performance for the Bears, recorded three shots, two of them within four minutes of each other in the first half. Aside from posting two shots, senior Aravind Sivakumar took all of Cal’s corner kicks during the match.
Despite the Stanford loss, the Bears effectively reversed the outcome of last season, when they only tallied one win during conference play. With this last game, Cal finished ranked second in the Pac-12 with a record of 6-4, putting it in good standing to qualify for NCAA playoffs if the selection committee examines each conference.
“Rankings and playoff qualification are two completely separate… entities, if you will,” said Cal head coach Kevin Grimes. “You can be ranked in the top 25 and not get an at-large berth. It’s important not to focus on something that we can’t control. We just took care of our own self.”
The Bears will learn if they made the playoffs tomorrow morning at the selection show. Typically, if Cal earns a berth in the NCAA tournament, it will play its first game against a local opponent in the region to minimize travel costs. That said, as the tournament progresses, the Bears increase their chances that they will be traveling somewhere else in the country.
“At some point down the line, we may have to get on a plane. Hopefully we are flying — figuratively and literally,” Grimes said.
Lucy Schaefer covers men’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected]