Last weekend was important for getting the Bears back on track. They faced two tough, proven opponents in the pacific northwest, and while the results were not wins, they were ones with which the team should be content.
On Thursday evening, Cal men’s soccer faced Oregon State up north for one of that weekend’s first of two showdowns. Oregon State hasn’t had much luck in repeating its success from last year, but as a team it’s still proven that it can put up a fight, and its success is notable. It was certainly not going to be a walk in the park for the Bears — and the Beavers let them know it right out of the gate.
The Beavers applied pressure early and scored the first goal of the game in the ninth minute. After being told early on that its opponents were there to win, it was up to Cal to respond. Down a goal with just over 80 minutes left in the match, the good news was that there was still much more soccer to come.
The rest of the first half went back and forth, but ultimately no other goals were scored before half. In the second half, the Bears came back out looking for an equalizer. In the 53rd minute they finally broke through with a goal by Fahmi Ibrahim to even the match at a goal apiece. This was Ibrahim’s team-leading fifth goal of the season, having found the back of the net in three straight games.
During the remaining time, Cal’s defense held strong until the final whistle blew with the score still knotted at 1-1. The Bears left Corvallis happy with that result, as Oregon State statistically dominated the match: The Beavers had 22 shots to Cal’s six, as well as a whopping eight more corners than the Bears.
Even though the opposing team had more opportunities to score, no other goals came out of it. In the Bears’ book, that can be considered a win.
Oregon State was also a warmup as the Bears got ready to face the No. 1 team in the country. On Sunday, they took on the Washington Huskies, a favorite to make it back to the national championship game this year. This was the Bears’ toughest test of the season thus far.
The game was the debut of the blue and gold’s freshman goalkeeper, Marco Brougher — and what better time to launch a collegiate career than against the top-seeded team?
For the majority of the game, Brougher and the rest of the Bears played excellently. They defended well, kept the Huskies in front of them and the ball out of the back of the net. Their stellar play halted in the 75th minute, though, when the Huskies finally broke through on a corner kick to put them up 1-0.
That turned out to be all the Huskies needed, as Cal couldn’t find an equalizer in this one and wound up losing with a final score of 1-0.
This was truly an impressive showing for Cal, as battling against the best team in the country is no easy feat, and neither is losing by only one goal. It was a strong 90 minutes, and highlighted the character of this team — one that won’t back down.
Though the blue and gold did not come out with any wins this weekend, they should be proud of their play against two of the Pac-12’s powerhouses. The Bears now move to 3-4-4 on the season with six games left to play. Cal travels back home this week to face the University of San Francisco in a nonconference game Saturday.