Twice in Two Weeks?





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It is all well and good for David to tag Goliath upside the head from 80 feet. But it takes real cojones to walk up to the big fella when he is rolling in the dirt and break his neck.

No. 8 Cal gets a chance to do just that and make a molehill out of the mountainous figure that No. 9 Stanford has cut on the Pac-10 soccer landscape.

At the start of the season, this week's back-to-back matchups against the Cardinal looked like a double date with an oncoming train.

Now the stretch has turned into a coming-out party for the Bears as a national contender, and they go into tonight's game looking down at Stanford both in the rankings and the Pac-10 standings.

"This is the game we gotta prove to everyone that we deserve all the respect we're getting," midfielder Angel Quintero said. "If we can win at their place that's when people are gonna say, they're no joke. We just wanna do it for ourselves. It'll be a personal tally on our belt."

After breaking the jinx with a 1-0 win at Edwards last Friday, Cal heads to the Farm with the chance to send its nemesis into a full-fledged tailspin. Stanford is mired in a three-game winless streak.

"We're almost to the point where we can't sleep right now, we're so excited," sophomore forward Carl Acosta said.

The Bears should probably temper their excitement with the sobering fact that they last won a game at Stanford in 1981, before Maloney field was built, and have never beaten the Cardinal twice in a row. If it is ever going to happen though, the time is probably now.

"You know exactly what they're gonna have, all the same injuries and stuff," Acosta said. "We know they're coming off that streak, they gotta be frustrated. If we get one early, they're just gonna fall apart. We're definitely glad we got them at a bad time."

Stanford won the Pac-10 and reached the Final Four last year, and was supposed to be even better this time around, spending the first eight weeks of the season ranked No. 1.

The Cardinal has looked decidedly human since losing 3-1 to Tulsa in its own Cardinal Invitational (a loss that allowed the Bears to walk away with the tournament title), and did not take kindly to losing at Edwards for the first time in six years.

"They're gonna be bitter as hell," Roberts said. "They'll be looking for a little revenge, but (Cal coach Kevin Grimes) makes it really clear that each game has equal importance and we get that."

The vaunted Cardinal offense has gone silent. Stanford has been shut out three games in a row, despite sporting All-Americans Roger Levesque and Johannes Maliza in attack.

Meanwhile, Cal has not allowed more than two goals in a game since a season-opening 3-0 loss to Cal State Northridge.

"We know that when we execute and perform properly, we're one of the toughest teams to score on," Grimes said.

The back four shone especially bright last week, when defenders Noah Merl and Troy Roberts hooked up to provide the game's lone goal, a Roberts header just before the break.

Roberts was named Pac-10 Co-Player of the week for his efforts.

"The whole defense was near flawless last week," Acosta said. "(Troy) is a machine. It's great they got the goal, because they do all the work every game. It's fitting they got the spotlight for once, because the real heroes are at the back."

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