The old adage goes, “It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.” This is something Cal men’s soccer is sure to keep in mind as it begins the season 0-1-1 with a 3-1 loss and a draw.
But as the saying goes, it’s about how the Bears finish the rest of the season — and the team has got a ways to go. Following a rough first weekend to the season, the Cal men’s soccer team looks to bounce back against two UC rivals, UC Irvine and UC San Diego, this weekend and right the ship away from home.
Cal looked promising during the preseason, notching three wins and scoring seven in the process. In the first two games of the regular season, however,the Bears have come out flat. With just a goal apiece in each game they have not been able to put points on the board.
Though it was not the season start the Bears had anticipated following a perfect preseason, they can turn it around this weekend in Southern California with two big wins.
“We had a great start to preseason in the first game against UC Riverside, we just proved that we could score,” said redshirt junior Fernando Andrade. “The goals will come, we trust our boys to be able to do that.”
Now it’s just a matter of translating that scoring into the regular season games.
For their first game of the weekend, the Bears are set to travel down to Irvine to take on the Anteaters for a Friday afternoon matchup. Irvine started off worse than Cal this season, losing its first two matches, albeit both against ranked opponents.
The Anteaters are still looking for their first goal of the season and — like Cal — their first win. They will come out ready to compete to right the ship just as the Bears look to do.
After the game on Friday, the blue and gold will travel even further south to San Diego for a bout with the Tritons on Sunday night. UC San Diego has had a nice start to its season; it’s yet to drop a game. The team won at Pacific, following that up with a win against No. 22 Santa Clara.
The Tritons have started off the season hot, and already have a win against a ranked opponent under their belt. This does not, however, mean Cal can’t shake their rhythm and hand them their first loss of the season.
These two matches for the Bears are important to help them get back on track. A strong showing, especially against San Diego, can show that they are able to compete with strong teams this year. The Bears will bank on team chemistry and the bonds they share with one another off the field to guide their success on the field.
“We’re really focused on team building and culture outside of the field,” Andrade said. “We’re putting those lessons into place when we play.”
Fans hope that team building will show up front and center this weekend in Southern California. The Bears seem to have all the pieces they need to be a great team — a great mix of talent, skill, work ethic and team chemistry. Now, it’s just a matter of putting it all together out on the field.
“Everyone has full belief that this team can do great things this season, and hopefully this weekend we’ll be able to show that,” Andrade said.