Let the shot go, or redirect it towards goal?
This was the decision left at the feet of Cal men’s soccer winger Alonzo Del Mundo, who was in the vicinity of forward Francisco Perez’s attempt at an equalizing goal late in the second half against No. 7 Washington.
“It was going kind of wide,” Del Mundo said. “I didn’t notice it was going wide, so I let it go. If I would’ve redirected it, I feel like it would’ve been a really good goal.”
The missed shot ended up being the last clear-cut chance the Bears had to take the match into overtime, as the ref blew the final whistle and snapped Cal’s unbeaten run of four matches.
The 2-1 loss wasn’t devoid of controversy, as a questionable penalty call brought the Huskies back to life in the 23rd minute. After a flurry of protests from the Bears aimed at the referee, Washington midfielder Dylan Teves converted the penalty kick that shifted the flow of the match.
To add insult to injury, head coach Kevin Grimes asked the referee at halftime which of his players committed the foul.
“He did not have an answer,” Grimes said.
Besides the missed chances and contentious decision, the Bears performed excellently in defense and gave themselves every opportunity to win the match. Allowing one goal from open play against a top ten scoring team in the country is no easy feat.
“I thought it was really strong,” Grimes said. “We looked rock solid. I think momentum swung with their penalty kick because it happened so quickly after we had scored. We didn’t have a chance to carry that enthusiasm for longer stretches of time.”
Washington midfielder Lucas Meek scored the winner in the 58th minute and clinched the Huskies’ ninth win of the season. Ultimately, Cal will lose sleep thinking about the chances it should’ve converted. What could’ve been another late-season, come-from-behind victory — what would have been its second at Husky stadium in two seasons — ended up being another preventable blunder in what has been an already emotionally taxing season.
“Props to Washington for defending well and fighting,” Del Mundo said. “I still think we had a couple of chances to tie it. We got some chances that we should have put in and didn’t, so that’s on us.”
According to Del Mundo, Grimes was encouraged with how his team performed and urged his players to keep their heads up. With just two games left in this season, Cal will need to forgo lamenting about past gaffes if it hopes to end the season with a winning record.
A golden opportunity to rebound lies in wait for the Bears, as last-placed conference opponent San Diego State comes to town. Cal’s victory over the Aztecs nearly a month ago sparked an unbeaten run that brought the blue and gold’s season back from extinction.
With the lowest shots-per-game rate in the Pac-12, it’s apparent that the Bears must make the most of their opportunities if they hope to finish the season on a high.