Cal men’s soccer drops tight matches against Washington, Oregon State

Lorenzo Dela Cruz/Staff

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For the first time all season, the Cal men’s soccer team (5-6-2) has a losing record. Despite playing in two closely contested, winnable affairs in the Pacific Northwest, the Bears return home to Berkeley empty-handed with zero points to show for their efforts after dropping matches to Washington and Oregon State.

On Thursday, Cal traveled to Seattle to take on a pesky Washington side. Having been ranked earlier in the season, the Huskies, like the Bears, were eager to get their season jumpstarted.

The first 30 minutes of play saw a back-and-forth affair play out as both teams slowly worked their way into the game. Cal received its first and only clear-cut opportunity in the 31st minute when freshman Taylor Davila dispossessed a Husky player to give senior forward Sam Ebstein possession.

Ebstein then carefully threaded a ball to fellow senior forward Shinya Kadono who had a breakaway on goal. The Pac-12’s leading goal scorer, however, was stuffed by goalkeeper Saif Kerawala.

The remainder of regulation witnessed Washington control the majority of possession and receive the most shots on goal. The Bears kept the Husky attack in check, however, and eventually forced overtime.

In particular, for the Bears, redshirt junior goalkeeper Noah Texter stepped up immensely, repeatedly making save after save to keep Cal in the contest. Texter started for the Bears in place of Drake Callender who sustained an injury against Stanford the previous week.

After a scoreless first overtime period, senior Sam Junqua was called for a controversial foul in the box, granting Washington a penalty kick. Redshirt senior Scott Menzies made no mistake of the opportunity and buried the ball in the bottom right corner to seal a 1-0 victory for the Huskies.

On Sunday, the Bears returned to action to take on a red-hot Oregon State team that was fresh off beating three-time defending national champion Stanford on Thursday.

Cal could not have asked for a better start when Kadono struck in the fifth minute off an Oregon State turnover to grab an early 1-0 lead. Kadono’s strike gave him his 11th goal of the season to go along with a Pac-12 leading 24 points.

In the second half, Oregon State came out pressing, relentlessly searching for an equalizer. The Beavers’ persistence paid off in the 76th minute when freshman Gloire Amanda fired a rocket from the right side of the box to knot the score at one apiece.

Only 10 minutes later, the Beavers would grab the lead when freshman Sofiane Djeffal collected a solid pass and calmly slotted home a low strike to beat Texter, subsequently giving Oregon State the victory, 2-1.

With these two losses, Cal remains winless on the road (0-4). For a team with so much talent and promise, it’s undoubtedly disappointing to be currently tied for last in the Pac-12. With five more games, the Bears will desperately need to end the season with a bang to have any hopes of reaching the NCAA postseason. For now, however, Cal will regroup at home and seek to get its mojo back for the final stretch run.

Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].