There would have been no better birthday present for Cal men’s soccer head coach Leonard Griffin than the team’s first win and clean sheet of the regular season. Saturday, despite a slow-paced game, the Bears secured a 1-0 victory over California Baptist University for its second home game. This win puts Cal at a much better position, now with a record of 1-1-3.
The game started off as more of a defensive battle, along with an early attempt in the fourth minute by CBU freshman midfielder Adolfo Pino. However, this long attempt was successfully blocked by the Bears. At the five-minute mark, the Lancers were awarded the first yellow card of the game for a foul by No. 25 junior midfielder Georg Bjarnason.
The blue and gold almost got their name on the scoreboard in the 45th minute when Fahmi Ibrahim beautifully crossed the ball over to Nonso Adimabua, who went for a header straight toward the goal. To Cal’s disappointment, the Lancers’ goalkeeper Nolan Premack was prepared, as the ball was shot right into his hands.
The second half of the game had a fairly uneventful start, despite a second yellow card being awarded in the 67th minute — this time to Ibrahim.
The blue and gold finally reached a breakthrough when Adimabua yet again made a stunning cross to sophomore forward Shoei Honda through the Lancers defense in the 77th minute. Honda effortlessly found space and finished the goal into the back of the net.
This goal marked the forward’s second goal of the season, tying him with Ibrahim as the team leaders in goals.
Notably, both teams played at comparable levels throughout the game. Statistically, the Lancers outshot the Bears, ending the match with eight shots, while the Bears finished with four. However, both teams had the same number of shots on goal: three.
With this, team captain and goalkeeper Collin Travasos marked his first clean sheet of the regular season. Travasos now averages at 2.8 saves per game, with his low being zero saves, and high being five.
The last 20 minutes of the game Cal fans had to hold their breaths given the three consecutive 1-1 ties in the past three games. This was especially nerve wracking for Cal, as it lost its lead against Irvine and Villanova in the last four seconds and four minutes of each game, respectively.
To the Bears’ relief and the Lancers’ demise, Cal persisted, protecting its 1-0 lead until the whistle blew, awarding it its first win and shutout of the season — and Leonard Griffin’s first regular season win as a Cal head coach.
The blue and gold’s success this past weekend is a stepping stone for what’s to come. With its first Pac-12 game of the season, Cal is hosting San Diego State this Thursday at Edwards Stadium. Currently holding an overall record of 2-3-1, the Aztecs are having an arguably mediocre season. This being said, this weekend should hold a fiery competition from both sides.