Men's Soccer: Bears Hold on for Victory in Bay Area Grudge Match

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Two to nothing is often called the most dangerous lead in soccer.

Thursday night, the Cal men's soccer team found out why and lived to tell about it.

The Bears (5-2-1) beat archrival Santa Clara (4-2-0), but only after they survived a late game onslaught that threatened to turn a sure win into a bitter tie.

"Two-zero is a dangerous lead because it's not enough for

the game to be over but its big enough to give yourself a feeling of comfortability," Cal coach Kevin Grimes said.

The Bears took a 2-0 lead deep into the second half.

Facing defeat in their own stadium, the Broncos looked demoralized. Then in the 81st minute, the Broncos put one past Cal keeper Josh Saunders.

In the split second between the time the ball left Santa Clara midfielder Jason Cunliffe's foot and the time it hit the back of the Bears net, the momentum shifted.

Having controlled the game's tempo with some of their most technically proficient play of the season, the Bears suddenly had trouble clearing the ball from their own backfield.

Cal spent the game's final ten minutes back on its heels trying to slow down the suddenly energized Broncos.

"Immediately after they scored that goal they came out at a 100mph," Bears midfielder Patrick Fisher said.

The Broncos pushed the entire team forward looking for the equalizer. They sent one shot over the bar and one wide left.

The large and noisy crowd rose to its feet each time the Broncos came close to tying the game, but when the final whistle blew, the score showed 2-1.

"I think we did well to get out of it," Fisher said.

Like they did in the game's final minutes, the Bears spent the game's early going trying to hold off the powercharged Santa Clara attack.

Bears forward Carl Acosta changed that when he came off the bench and scored the game's first goal in the 28th minute. Taking a Pieter Berger header, Acosta dribbled past one Broncos defender and fired a shot past Broncos keeper Steve Cronin.

"I just put my head down and blasted it as hard as I could," Acosta said.

Acosta repeated the trick five minutes later.

Berger placed a shot on goal that was deflected to the right side of a crowded 18 yard box. Acosta came around Berger into the path of the deflected shot, and buried a low riser past the diving Cronin.

So far this season's unofficial 12th man Acosta now leads Cal forwards with three goals.

"Most guys would think about the 12th man and not really like it, but Carl's really embraced it," said Fisher.

Cal now heads into Sunday's matchup against No. 24 Tulsa with the chance to win five games in a row for the first time since the 1986 team did it on its way to a school record eight-game streak.

Having dispatched the No. 22 Broncos, a win could also lead to a national ranking, something the Bears haven't had since they lost their opener 3-0 to Cal State Northridge.

A ranking can be a mixed blessing at this point of the season, according to Cal players.

"A ranking would be nice but every time you get a ranking it gives a little incentive to the team that's playing you," Fisher said.

Sunday's match against Tulsa will be held at Stanford's Maloney Field at 12 noon. It is the second match of the Stanford Invitational.


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