Cal Looks to Continue Fighting in Battle of Bears
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Category: Sports > Fall > Soccer (Men's)
Are Brown Bears better than Golden Bears?
That is the question to be answered next Sunday when the No. 6 Cal men's soccer team squares off against No. 22 Brown (12-3-4) in the third round of the NCAA College Cup.
The Golden Bears secured their place in the third round after a 2-1 victory over UCSB last Sunday at Edwards Stadium.
It would be no exaggeration to call this past weekend's game was a battle.
"I am most proud of the team's resilience," senior co-captain and Pac-10 Player of the Year A.J. Soares said. "We went down a goal with only a few minutes left and that is always hard to come back from, especially against a good team … It takes a lot of hard work and battle and mental toughness to do that."
The decisive play came in the last second of overtime, when senior forward Davis Paul knocked the ball in on assists from seniors Hector Jimenez and Anthony Avalos.
"You can never count us out of the game when it comes down to those last couple seconds," Paul said.
With the battle fought and won, however, it is time for the Bears to focus on the next adversary.
While Brown will have to travel across the country, the Golden Bears have the opportunity to enjoy the comforts of the home field advantage for a second time. The blue and gold fans were plentiful amongst the 1,620 people in attendance at Sunday's match.
"We love having the crowd," Soares said. "People hate coming here to play because it is hard to win here. When the crowd is behind us chanting 'California,' it is seriously the best feeling you could ever ask for. It gets you excited to play for Cal."
The Golden Bears (13-2-3) will need all the home support they can get against the foreign East Coast team. Brown will come to Edwards Stadium on the heels of an upset over the No. 9 Connecticut on Sunday.
Taylor Gorman's early shot in the right corner of the net flew just out of the reach of the Huksies keeper's fingertips. The Brown Bears went up 1-0, and ended up winning in penalty kicks.
Cal has been able to capitalize on flying out of the gates from the start multiple times throughout the season. Early goals against San Diego State and Stanford quickly put the Golden Bears in a position to set the pace for the rest of the match.
Against a team that has only given up 10 goals total thus far, Cal will be challenged to put the ball past 2009 First Team All-Ivy League keeper Paul Grandstand.
Other seasoned veterans like midfielder Jon Okafor and defender David Walls, who have been selected to the 2010 New England Intercollegiate Soccer League, will also pose formidable challenges across the field.
Whether the East Coasters can hold their own here on the West Coast is yet to be seen, however.
"I don't know if it is coastal or league, or what, but there are differences. Maybe it is the demographics of the players on each team," Soares said of the team's distinct playing styles. "All I know about Brown is that they are going to be intelligent and that is one of the most important things in soccer. That will play to their advantage, being a bunch of smart, disciplined kids."
Kelly Suckow covers men's soccer. Contact her at [email protected]
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