It was certainly a magical night for the Bears down in Riverside last Thursday.
As Cal looked to establish a dominant streak after back-to-back wins at home, its ardent aspiration lied in attaining its first away victory of the season. With two away games ending in a tie thus far, the Bears faced a compelling opportunity to showcase their true capabilities away from the comfort of Berkeley.
The stage was set for Cal to take on the California Baptist Lancers down in Riverside at CBU Soccer Stadium.
The Bears got off to a sluggish start as California Baptist’s striker, Leo Mendez, scored a difficult shot to put the Lancers up 1-0 in the 25th minute. Had it not been for the defensive effort of junior Kevin Carmichael, the Bears could have conceded even more goals.
Carmichael also played the most minutes out of every Cal player, totaling a staggering 90 minutes. His contribution to the Bears’ overall performance on Thursday night should not be undermined.
“I think I did well but I can’t do it without all my teammates,” Carmichael said. “There aren’t any secrets to being able to play the whole game but we all got fit during the pre-season training and that definitely helped me to prepare for this.”
It did not take long for the Bears to find their way back. In the 30th minute of the game, the Lancer defense made a mistake and resulted in an own goal during a goal clearance. Although the credit was initially given to sophomore Cameron Robie, the officials later reviewed the footage and ruled it an own goal.
With the playing field even at 1-1, both sides looked to formulate a plan to take the lead.
The second half saw an incredible offensive attack by the Lancers in an effort to take the lead. As California Baptist pursued their path to victory, Cal’s defense hung on just enough to prevent the deadlock from being broken.
With less than 15 minutes to play, it looked as though the game would end in a tie.
In a thrilling moment of desperation, the Bears sought to make a game-changing offensive counter, and it was none other than sophomore Rohan McEligot who stepped up in the heat of the moment.
In the 78th minute of the game, senior Nonso Adimabua lofted a pass high up in the air. Senior Adrian Guzman quickly positioned himself under the ball and dinked a sublime pass over the Lancers’ defenders to McEligot. California Baptist’s goalkeeper stood no chance as McEligot struck the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
It was a breakthrough goal for Cal. The Bears won the game 2-1 — making it a three-game winning streak and the first away victory of the season.
“I feel excited for myself but overall I believe it was a great team effort,” McEligot said. “I want to be able to score a lot of goals for my team so I will continue to improve on my finishing touches.”
Head coach Leonard Griffin expressed his contentment with Cal’s performance.
“Obviously Rohan was a big time player for us today,” Griffin said. “We could have been a little bit more clinical but it’s a work in progress, and I am so happy to secure two goals and get the win on the road.”
With proliferating confidence in their away game’s performance, the Bears’ next test will be back at home against Oregon State.
Now with an established streak, Cal looks to prolong its winning ways and nab a fourth consecutive victory.