Anytime a team loses in overtime, it’s important to rebound quickly and get back to winning ways. The Cal men’s soccer team will be looking to do just that after suffering the first loss of its young season last weekend against the University of the Pacific.
The Bears return to action Thursday against Sacramento State, followed by a weekend affair with UC Riverside on Sunday.
The contest against the Hornets will take Cal to Avaya Stadium, the home of the San Jose Earthquakes. A team out of the Big West Conference, Sacramento State comes into this game with a 1-2-1 record. The team is led by senior midfielder Dominic Scotti, who was the only member named to the Big West Preseason All-Conference team.
In the team’s exhibition matches, Sacramento State was impressive, winning two games 6-0 against Bethesda University and Sonoma State and drawing against Santa Clara.
The Bears will look to stay rock-solid in the back against a strong Hornet offense that has averaged two goals per game so far. As freshmen defenders Ian Lonergan and J.J. Foe Nuphaus continue to gain experience and strengthen their partnership with senior Sam Junqua in the back, Cal will get even better.
On Sunday, the Bears return home for a contest against UC Riverside, which has lost all four of its contests thus far. While the Highlanders have yet to record a win, they have faced some impressive teams, including No. 3 Michigan State.
UC Riverside is led by sophomore midfielder Daniel Aguirre, who has been a constant threat in each of the team’s four games. The Bears will make a point to slow down Aguirre in the attacking third.
One of the weaker aspects of the Highlanders’ game has been their defensive unit. Thus far, they have given up 14 goals. Cal’s attacking players, including seniors Shinya Kadono and Sam Ebstein along with sophomore Francisco Perez and redshirt freshman Alonzo del Mundo, will look to take advantage of this weakness in the attacking third.
With a balanced team from top to bottom, the Bears should continue to cause problems for any opposition. One facet that the team could continue to improve upon, however, is finishing the chances it creates.
In each of the team’s three games, the Bears missed some very clear-cut opportunities that may be more impactful against better opposition. Against two weaker defensive teams in Sacramento State and UC Riverside, Cal will look to break out of its low scoring habits and wreak havoc on the opposition.
In both of these upcoming matchups, Cal is heavily favored with more talent on the pitch. The team will look to execute on its game plan of aggression up front while remaining solid in the midfield.
Overall, after the Bears’ tough loss to the Tigers that subsequently knocked them out of the top 25 of the United States Coaches Poll, Cal will look to come away with two wins and climb back up the rankings.
Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s soccer. Contact him at