One of the most redemptive aspects of this year’s collegiate soccer season is that if you fail at first, you always get a second bite at the apple.
It’s been over a month since the Cal men’s soccer team lost 0-2 to Washington in a tumultuous fashion. The final whistle couldn’t have come soon enough that day, as the Bears were beaten into submission and left with a mountain to climb.
The following week, Cal took what it could from the 0-4 loss to Oregon State to finally start its upward trajectory. Unbeaten in the four matches since, the Bears have a golden opportunity to avenge themselves and beat the No. 7 Huskies on their home turf this Saturday.
“The team is definitely still fired up about this past week,” said redshirt freshman goalkeeper Collin Travasos. “We’ve been dialed in for about two weeks now, so we are pumped for this weekend. It’s a huge game for us. We’re super excited to fly up tomorrow and get a result.”
Cal has brought its season back from the dead by sticking to its guns and steadily thwarting some of the country’s best attacks. After posting two consecutive shutouts against top-ten opponents, the Bears’ defense has solidified itself enough to allow the rest of the squad to maximize their attacking potency.
Travasos, who earned Pac-12 Player of the Week and Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Week for his performance in last week’s victory over the Beavers, helped provide that security and has become the first choice shot stopper for Cal head coach Kevin Grimes. The goalkeeper’s pair of back-to-back five-save performances have transformed an imbalanced, error-prone defense into an organizational catalyst.
“The individuals on our team have started to figure out their roles,” Travasos said. “We’ve figured out how to work as a team well and we’ve really done a great job of playing for each other.”
Washington’s six-match win streak was stopped by a shocking 0-2 loss to then last place San Diego State. During that streak, the Huskies outscored their opponents 14-3 with everyone getting in on the action. Junior defender Charlie Ostrem has made his presence felt with eight points in the last seven outings, in addition to assisting on Washington’s last three goals.
The Bears’ ability to mitigate the Huskies’ early attacking onslaught will likely make or break their path to victory once again. Stopping the conference’s No. 3 goal scorer, Dylan Teves, is no easy feat, but Travasos isn’t worried about him alone. As a team, Cal will need to exhaust all options to leave Seattle victorious.
“We have our scouts on various guys,” Travasos said. “But at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to which team plays better. We are going to look to shut all of them down, not just one.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, and the game will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Network.