Men's Soccer: Missed Opportunities Cost Cal Weekend Sweep

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In soccer, as in life, there is nothing more frustrating than inability to score when the opportunities abound.

The Cal men's soccer team was let down by its finishing this weekend, literally and metaphorically.

The Bears created a clear chance to vault themselves into the nation's elite after upsetting No. 15 Portland Friday, but, like many of the team's attacks this season, the opportunity was wasted.

Despite a quick start and several legitimate chances, Cal couldn't find the back of the net and fell to No. 7 Southern Methodist 1-0 in the second game of the Bay Area Classic at Edwards Stadium yesterday.

"We did everything right except put it away," said defender Troy Roberts.

Splitting the weekend's games, the Bears walked away feeling bittersweet about the tournament.

"We had a chance to take a great step forward for our program by knocking off two top-10 teams in the same weekend," said Cal coach Kevin Grimes. "We did it on the Friday but not on the Sunday."

Midfielder Patrick Fisher summed up the weekend's results in seven simple words.

"Overall, not bad, but not good yet," the senior captain said.

Yesterday, the young, fast Bears started fast and created several early chances.

"We came out in the first 10 or 15 minutes and had them on their heels," Fisher said.

But as the game wore on, the bigger SMU players seemed to get stronger while Cal slowed down.

In the second half, the Mustangs jumped out of the gates and went ahead in the 47th minute.

SMU's Duke Hashimoto sliced through Cal's defense and dished to Diego Walsh, who finished from 10 yards out.

With the momentum clearly on their side, the Mustangs poured on the pressure, taking several more shots on goal.

With good defense and strong work by goalie Josh Saunders, the Bears survived the barrage.

But despite mounting a late-game rally, Cal couldn't put one in the back of the net.

The Bears seemingly had excorised their scoring jinx Friday with a dramatic win over Portland.

Trailing 1-0 for most of the match despite controlling the run of play and creating most of the offensive chances, Cal seemed headed to another tough-luck loss.

Noah Merl tied the game in the 88th minute with a cracking shot from outside the 18-yard box.

Midfielder Mike Munoz then scored the golden goal with a header off a Calen Carr cross in the eighth minute of overtime.

"We deserved (that) one," Munoz said. "Even when we were down we knew we'd get it."

Despite losing to SMU, the Bears have to be happy they didn't repeat last weekend's performance, when they lost to Cal State Northridge 3-0 and tied Loyola Marymount 0-0.


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