As the saying goes, “high expectations lead to big disappointments.” Cal men’s soccer seemed to live up to this, with a 0-1-1 start to the regular season.
Opening the season in Fullerton Thursday, the game started off with a bad touch by Cal and overall sloppy work on the defensive side. In the 11th minute, the Bears practically awarded a point to Fullerton freshman Sander Foro, leaving the goal wide open.
The first half of the game ended with a Cal free kick and an attempted shot by Wyatt Meyer, but the ball went wide and the score remained 1-0 with the Titans in the lead.
The second half of the match started off just as poorly as the first. Despite Cal having a one-player disadvantage due to defender Jose Calderon being awarded a red card, the Titans revived what looked to be a failed cross into the middle, when Julian Madrigal successfully powered the ball into the back of the net.
If the Bears were losing any hope at this point of the match, another goal from Fullerton in the 67th minute — just seven minutes after the second goal — definitely did not help.
Fullerton junior Sebastian Cruz practically presented Cal with its defeat, after Reziq Banihani passed the ball to Cruz in the middle through two Cal defenders.
The blue and gold were able to get onto the scoreboard after a shot by Shoei Honda made it into the net. Honda, a sophomore forward from Sakado, Japan, was assisted by freshman Rohan McEligot.
Despite multiple efforts to make a comeback, the Bears were unable to do so, ending the game 3-1 — a rather unexpected start to the season.
Cal had an opportunity to turn the tables with its game against Villanova Sunday at Edwards Stadium. Unfortunately for fans, the game ended in a tie, leaving the Bears yet to have secured a victory in the regular season.
Right before halftime, a handball awarded the blue and gold a penalty kick, and senior Fahmi Ibrahim scored his first penalty kick of his career at Cal.
Going into the second half up by 1, the Bears nearly gained a 2-point lead — but the ball was saved on the goal line by the Wildcats.
In the 68th minute, Villanova almost scored an equalizer after an attempt by Junior forward Luke Pompliano, but Cal goalie Collin Travasos was able to make a big save.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Villanova scored a late equalizer in the 86th minute after a corner kick by Balthi Saunders found Akinjide Awujo, who headed the ball into the back of the net.
There is still hope for fans that the Bears’ performance this past weekend will not be a reflection of what is to come for the rest of the season. However, it was undeniably an unsatisfactory start for Cal, and there is much work still needed to be done.