Cal’s 3-0 win over UCSB sign that more is on the horizon

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They say that there is a calm before the storm.

A quiet before thunder rolls and rain pours — when the clouds build on the horizon but do not break.

But it’s not “calm.” It is suspense. It is the sword of Damocles. It is the silence before the roar.

Cal men’s soccer is that silence, that tension, that break in the wind before the gale strikes. The Bears are bearing their teeth.

And there is still a silence, despite Cal’s 3-0 pounding of traditional powerhouse UC Santa Barbara. The Gauchos are no longer the soccer behemoth they once were, but a trip to Harder Stadium was supposed to be a challenge. Instead it was a blowout.

The Bears hit the ground running, with right back Simon Lekressner scoring just 45 seconds after the sound of the starting whistle. Lekressner snatched the ball in the box after touches from Alonzo Del Mundo and Arman Samimi, and tallied his first score of the season.

The Bears continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded. Samimi scored in the 14th minute, netting his first goal in blue and gold. The freshman striker profited from Del Mundo’s second assist of the day and doubled the lead.

The first half was far from over, and Del Mundo would yet again make himself known to the opposing fans. The redshirt sophomore sent in a looping corner, which Tommy Williamson nodded home on the back post. It would be also be Williamson’s second goal of the season following his return from injury. Del Mundo racked up a hat trick of assists.

“He’s doing quite well,” said head coach Kevin Grimes of Williamson. Grimes also praised Del Mundo’s setup work.

Despite Williamson’s prolific play, the junior has scored two goals in just 78 minutes on the field this season — and Cal will continue to be cautious with his recovery.

“I don’t think we’re going to rush him back,” Grimes said when asked about Williamson’s potential going forward. “But he’s made the most of the minutes we’ve given him.”

The Gauchos showed flashes of attack in the first half, but Cal dealt with the pressure and held their lead until halftime.

Goalkeeper Drake Callender kept his second clean sheet of the season, making five saves. The Bears locked up their win in a gritty second half that saw 17 fouls and two yellow cards handed out between the two sides.

“It was a really good performance,” said Grimes. “On both sides of the ball we played extremely well.”

This Cal squad has struggled with finishing, squandering numerous opportunities through their first two games. That difficulty evaporated Saturday, as the Bears put half of their shots on target into the goal.

Grimes was impressed with his defense’s shape and scheme as well, as UC Santa Barbara failed to score for the first time this season.

Despite their dominant performance, Cal remains focused on the future, turning their focus toward upcoming home games against American University and Denver.

“Everyone is really hungry to improve,” said Grimes. “By no means do any of us, coaches or players, think we’ve found the perfect model.”

Hence that continued silence. The storm has not yet broken and this Cal team has yet to fulfill its potential. Even after winning 3-0 at one of the nation’s most daunting venues, it is certain that bigger things await in the wings.

The stage is not yet big enough, the stakes not yet high enough. Spectators are left watching the horizon with bated breath, wondering when and where the storm will rear its head — and let out a roar.

Jasper Sundeen is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].