On its first road trip of the season, Cal men’s soccer will take the 1 ½-hour journey to Stockton to face the University of the Pacific on Friday.
That’s about the same time it would take the team to watch the 2009 movie “Paranormal Activity”, listen to Drake’s 2018 album Scorpion once or defeat the preseason pick to win the NCAA West Coast Conference this season.
Looking to continue the momentum of last weekend after racking up two W’s against Detroit Mercy and Incarnate Word, the No. 14 Bears will take on the No. 17 Tigers.
With the hope of making another deep tournament run this year, Pacific will look to reverse course after a surprising 3-0 opening loss against Cal State University Bakersfield on Tuesday.
Working to create momentum downfield will be Pacific junior forward Tariq Branche and senior midfielder Camden Riley. After recording 16 shots against CSUB’s seven shots, the Tigers’ offense will try to better capitalize on opportunities against the Bears.
Easier said than done, the Tigers will have to pass a dominant Cal defense led by returners senior Sam Junqua and sophomore Christopher Grey, supported by standout freshmen Ian Lonergan and JJ Foe Nuphaus.
Furthermore, the Tigers’ defense will be kept busy by senior forward Shinya Kadono, who is currently tied as the top returning goal-scorer in the Pac-12 this season.
While Cal’s squad depends on a roster with almost half of the players competing in their first collegiate season, the experience and leadership of Kadono and fellow senior forward No. 10 Sam Ebstein carried the team through its first wins.
Both Kadono and Ebstein were crucial in the 2-1 victory against Detroit Mercy, with Kadono also coming away with the game’s only goal against Incarnate Word.
Junior forward No. 3 Simon Lekressner and freshman midfielder No. 21 Taylor Davila, who had a strong showing against Incarnate Word, will work to open the field and assist downfield movement, exposing weaknesses in the Tigers’ defense.
Setting aside the preseason jitters and slow starts to the last two games, Cal should be able to maintain a consistent rhythm throughout the 90 minutes. By working to limit the offensive opportunities of the Tigers combined with a forward-minded push, head coach Kevin Grimes will look for an emphasis on accuracy and precision to finish the opportunities presented.
Next, the Bears will take on Sacramento State on Sept. 6 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, home of the MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes.
Alicia Sadowski covers men’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].