With so many new faces this season, the young Cal squad is not a team to be underestimated.
The Bears took the field in an away game against No. 18 Wake Forest in North Carolina this past Sunday, which was only their second game of the season. Coming off of another game on the road in Greensboro, NC, Cal looked to find its first victory of the season after a draw in the first game of the year against UNCG.
Nevertheless, facing the highly talented Wake Forest team far away from Bear territory meant that pulling out a victory would be hard to come by. Originally scheduled to start at 7 p.m., officials decided to start the match early to avoid heavy rains as predicted by the weather forecast.
As the match began, Wake Forest quickly gained momentum, starting an attack very early on and putting pressure on Cal’s defense. In the fourth minute of the game, the Demon Deacons’ forward Babacar Niang struck the ball into the bottom left corner of the net and passed a diving keeper, putting Wake Forest up 1-0 in the early going.
Despite conceding a goal early on in the game, the Bears adapted to the shift in energy from the lead change and were able to carry out planned counterattacks. Cal’s game plan paid off right before the end of the first half as junior Kevin Carmichael scored a header and leveled the playing field at one apiece.
“I’ve been working on my headers in my offseason and so it feels really good to get the goal,” Carmichael said in an interview. “We showed up today against a very good team.”
Carmichael’s goal proved to be a vital moment for the Bears as it represented the only goal that Cal managed to score in this match. Although the Bears put up more shots than their opponent, the ball just could not find the back of the net with the Demon Deacons’ goalie tallying five saves on the day.
Head coach Leonard Griffin was also content with his boys’ performance against Wake Forest.
“I’m just really proud of our guys,” Griffin said. “I’m looking forward to more positive results as we progress through this season.”
As the Bears wrapped up their stint on the east coast, they await the very first home game of the season against Fairleigh Dickinson this Friday. Given the two tiring games away from home, a return back to Bear territory may be the reset needed as Cal remains in search of its first victory.
Star defender Carmichael believes that finally being able to play in Berkeley will be beneficial to the team and the Bears’ fans.
“It’s time to protect our house,” Carmichael said. “It’s time to show all our fans that we’re a different team this year!”
The team also aims to improve its finishing touches in front of the goal to challenge the opposing defense and work toward a victory.“I think the next hurdle is finding the back of the net a little bit more,” Griffin said.
Now that the season is fully underway, and after facing a formidable opponent like Wake Forest, it seems that this young Cal team is ready to take on the season ahead. As the first home game approaches, the wait is nearly over for the Bears to take the field at Edwards Stadium under the lights in the heart of Berkeley.