Sports miracles are spectacular to witness but hard to come by. For Cal men’s soccer to beat No. 1 Washington this week would be just that: a miracle.
As if the Bears needed any more losses, this week is looking bleak for Cal, which is set to face the University of Washington on Thursday and Oregon State on Sunday. Fortunately for the blue and gold, however, both games are at home — an advantage the Bears are going to have to utilize to have a shot at success this week.
Cal has an overall record of 3-6-5, with its home record currently sitting at 3-2-1 — much better than its away record of 0-4-4. Although it is comparable to Oregon State’s current 5-3-4 overall record, this is nowhere near the Washington Huskies’ overall undefeated record of 12-0-2.
The Bears first and biggest obstacle for this week will undoubtedly be the Huskies. Washington currently leads both the Pac-12 men’s soccer standings with 13 points and has been consistently topping the United Soccer Coaches NCAA D1 men’s soccer list for the past four weeks. Cal, on the other hand, is sitting at the bottom of the Pac-12 table with only five points and is unranked for the United Soccer Coaches list.
The last time the Bears went head to head with the Huskies was in Seattle, where Cal lost by only one goal in the second half of the game. The blue and gold maintained composure surprisingly well given that Washington out-shot them by 12, as well as the fact that it was Cal goalkeeper Marco Brougher’s collegiate debut.
Washington is succeeding both offensively and defensively, boasting a whopping 36 goals, while only letting its opponents score six goals over 14 games. The Bears are on the other end of this statistic, with a total of 14 goals, compared to its opponents’ 23.
The Beavers — although a much less challenging team — are not to be overlooked this weekend. The last game Oregon State played was in Corvallis at home, against Washington. The game almost ended in Beaver victory, but a late goal by the Huskies ended the game 1-1.
This draw marked the first scratch on Washington’s perfect 4-0 away record as well as the second tie for UW this whole season. Additionally, Oregon State out-shot Washington 8-7, making it only the second team to have out-shot the Huskies this season.
The Bears hold an advantage over the Beavers in their historical record of 35-19-6. The last time the two played was in Corvallis, where the match ended 1-1 after Fahmi Ibrahim equalized the score in the latter half of the game. Ibrahim continues to lead the Bears in points with six goals, including a late penalty he successfully scored in the last minutes of Cal’s most recent game against SDSU.
The Beaver’s current team leader is junior midfielder Mouhameth Thiam, with 10 points, including three goals and four assists. Thiam has scored all three of his goals over Oregon State’s most recent three games: against No. 1 Washington, No. 5 Stanford and No. 7 Portland. Thiam is on a roll with goals, making him a force Cal should prepare for.
Although Cal has a tough schedule ahead this week, a victory against the Beavers is undoubtedly within reach for the Bears. For the game against Washington, however, the Bears are going to need to pull off nothing less than a miracle to be the first team to defeat the Huskies. Nevertheless, despite the results, both games will be helpful in preparing for Cal’s next game: Big Classico against Stanford.