Despite the fear that comes with change, Cal men’s soccer has proved that change is exactly what it needed to successfully open its preseason.
After a dominating run abroad in Italy this summer, the men’s soccer team continued its success domestically for its first two games of the preseason. With new coaching staff, these wins are much more than a claim to bragging rights. Rather, they set a precedent for what’s to come, not only in this upcoming season, but also for the future of Leonard Griffin’s Cal men’s soccer team.
Last season, the Bears began their exhibition series with a 0-0 tie against Sacramento State, followed by another tie against San Jose State and concluded with yet another tie against San Francisco. The blue and gold seemed to have continued this bad omen of ties throughout the regular season, as they ended the Pac-12 conference in last place with a 1-6-1 record in conference play.
This being said, coming off of a rather disappointing season last year, this exhibition series was the perfect opportunity for newcomers — both staff and players — to showcase what they can offer to Cal.
The Bears started their exhibition down south in Riverside against the Highlanders last Friday. Each class had its moment to shine with junior Nate Carrasco scoring twice and sophomore Jake Himelstein and freshman Rohan McEligot scoring one goal each. For both Himelstein and McEligot, these mark their first collegiate goals.
The blue and gold celebrated a perfect 4-0 win over UC Riverside to begin this year’s preseason.
With no time to rest, the Bears headed somewhat closer to home with a game against CSU Bakersfield. After a rather uneventful first half, Cal and Bakersfield went into the second half tied. It wasn’t until the 78th minute that Jake Himelstein scored the winning goal, assisted by Rohan McEligot. Despite multiple opportunities for the Roadrunners to score in the latter quarter of the game, Cal’s run on the road ended with a 1-0 win.
“As preseason goes, guys are starting to feel it in their legs a little bit, so to go out and get a result today, it was a good sign of what we’re hoping for this season,” said new Cal head coach Leonard Griffin.
This exhibition series has undoubtedly set an expectation for the new additions to the team. With a clean sheet to start off the preseason, the Bears are looking hungry for their first home game against Pacific on Friday at 1 p.m.