After two years of waiting, the Cal men’s soccer team traveled to Italy this summer for two weeks to participate in the United Soccer Academy games and bond as a team while sightseeing in Rome and Venice.
The United Soccer Academy hosts these games every four years. They were scheduled to take place in 2020 but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were postponed until 2022. Through donations from alumni, parents and other donors, the team was able to raise enough money to cover expenses.
The team played exceptionally well, winning all but one of the four games it played. One ended in a draw due to unfit weather conditions which caused the game to be stopped.
“I had a lot of fun, which sometimes can be tough because we are competing all the time,” said rising senior midfielder Fernando Andrade who scored two of the four goals and assisted in one during Cal’s first game against AS Roma.
Being able to play without the pressure of playing in an official game allowed Andrade to enjoy the game and simply have fun.
During its second game, the team played against CS Porta Romana, which ended with a win for the Bears with a score of 7-0. The Bears’ third game against UC AlbinoLeffe Primavera, a third division team in Italy, was stopped 20 minutes early after it started raining unexpectedly, leaving the score 0-0. The team’s final game was against Varese Calcio with a final score of 4-0 for the Bears.
Andrade mentioned one of his favorite moments from the games was witnessing the only spring semester freshman, Jun Lee, score the last goal during Cal’s final match against Varese Calcio. Lee additionally assisted on Andrade’s goal during the team’s first game against AS Roma.
Two players who played phenomenally well throughout several games are Fahmi Ibrahim and Nate Carrasco. Ibrahim scored one goal for each of the games against AS Roma, CS Porta Romana and Varese Calcio. Carrasco scored two goals during the game against CS Porta Romana and went on to score another goal during the Bears’ final game against Varese Calcio.
With the recent hiring of new head coach Leonard Griffin, this trip gave him the opportunity to get to know the team better. Griffin expressed that this was one of his favorite parts of the trip. “Get(ting) to know the group more and just the time that we spent getting to know each other whether it was at dinners or sightseeing through the cities (was my favorite part of the trip),” Griffin said. “Getting to know the guys and their personalities off the field more than anything”.
Griffin stated that he was excited to work with this great team and that the previous staff had done an excellent job putting together this team.
The team explored the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the famous Trevi Fountain and parts of Northern Italy such as Cinque Terre. These are just a few of the places the team explored during its time in Italy.
The start of the men’s soccer season is right around the corner, with the Bears’ first game taking place Aug. 12 against UC Riverside. Their first home game will be against Pacific on Aug. 19.
“(I’m) super excited for the potential of the group and with the new players coming in, the sky’s the limit for the program,” Griffin said after witnessing the team in action for its four games in Italy.
Jovana Camberos is a Bear Bytes Blog writer. Contact her at [email protected].