As Hannah Montana puts it, “he could be the one.” “He” for the Cal men’s soccer team is first-year head coach Leonard Griffin.
As the Bears come off of a perfect preseason with a 3-0 record and a nearly clean sheet, Griffin has instilled hope in Cal fans for a successful season — at least in comparison to last year. The upcoming season opener at Cal State Fullerton along with the first home game against Villanova will either solidify or crumble this hope.
“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to work with these very talented young men,” said head coach Leonard Griffin. “I think we have a lot of talent; the sky’s the limit for the program moving forward. I’m happy to keep pushing and keep working.”
Coming off of last week’s game, there are a couple of players that have stood out so far. Nonso Adimabua, a junior transfer from the University of San Francisco, scored the equalizer for Cal, marking his first goal for the Bears.
Notably, Adimabua was named the National Player to Watch just this past week, a national distinction after being one of the 30 forwards on the United Soccer Coaches list of players to watch this season.
Starting the season down in Southern California, the Bears are going to first stop in Fullerton for the season opener against the Titans. Luckily for Cal, Fullerton’s conference record of 1-7-1 last season — in combination with the Bears’ recent performance — doesn’t pose them as much of a threat.
After Fullerton, the blue and gold are coming back up to Berkeley to face the Villanova men’s soccer team at Edwards Stadium on Sunday.
The Wildcats may be the team to ruin on the Bears’ perfect record. With a reasonably impressive overall record of 12-8-1, Villanova qualified until the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.
This being said, as much as Cal looks to be on an upward trajectory, the season has still yet to start, and the tables can turn at any second.
On a more optimistic note, the new coaching staff, along with new players, look to be having a positive impact on the team as a whole, incurring hope and expectation for this year’s season.
“I think we need to adjust some of the players’ positions on their sheets, we’re trying a different shape,” Griffin said. “However, I think our style of play is what hasn’t changed. We want to be a team that can possess the ball, and having a team full of technical players is a huge benefit.”