As students begin their return to campus and the streets of Berkeley grow more crowded and lively, it is clear that another fall semester is just around the corner. And with the start of the fall semester comes the start of soccer season! The Cal men’s soccer team wraps up its preseason play Friday with one last exhibition match against the University of the Pacific.
This match will be the last of three preseason games that the Bears have played before the regular season kicks off. The two previous matches that Cal played both resulted in wins against UC Riverside and Cal State Bakersfield, respectively. This upcoming game against the Pacific Tigers is a chance for the Bears to go perfect (3-0) in the preseason and have the squad feeling pumped and ready heading into the games that will truly matter. Cal faced off against Pacific during the regular season last year, but fell to the program 2-1. Hopefully this year the Bears can avenge themselves in a game with much lower stakes.
The results of this last preseason game may be pivotal in terms of how the blue and gold start off the season. A loss could stymie their energy and cause them to come out flat at the beginning of the season, while a win could propel them to perform with fire and vigor to start off the season strong. Though these exhibition games don’t count on paper, they do hold weight in terms of the team’s attitude and mentality heading into the regular season.
Cal is coming off a mere three-win season and looks to bounce back this year with its relatively young team. With just five fourth or fifth-year players on the roster, this team lacks some experience, and COVID-19 certainly plays a role in that. With their youth, however, the Bears do have a lot of players returning this year that found success on the pitch last season.
Cal’s top three goal scorers of last season are all back and returning to play hard for the blue and gold. Look for senior Jack Singer to be a spark for the Bears. Singer, from just across the Bay in San Francisco, plays all over the field. Also, keep an eye out for junior Wyatt Meyer to have a big season this year. Both of these guys played big minutes for the team last year and led the team with three goals a piece on the season in 2021. All signs point to the duo having similar roles this year as the two experienced returners that Cal needs.
Thus far during the preseason, three names have stood out: Nate Carrasco, Jake Himelstein and Rohan McEligot. Junior Carrasco and sophomore Himelstein have each netted two goals during the preseason games, while freshman McEligot recorded an assist and scored one of his own. If these young guys can offer support to the more experienced players consistently throughout the season, it will do wonders for the team.
School is almost here and that means soccer season is going to be in full swing. Hopefully, the Bears can end the preseason undefeated and head into their first match of the regular season with some momentum. What better way to end the last week of summer vacation than watching some Cal soccer at the lovely Edwards Stadium on Friday afternoon?