You could call the Pacific-12 Conference the SEC of men’s soccer, as the league boasts three teams inside the Top-5.
However, the third team seems to be getting overlooked when it comes to the national stage.
In fact, the Golden Bears (8-3-1) will get the opportunity to really vault up the rankings in the coming weeks when they face off with both the Bruins and Huskies. Earlier this year, Cal lost 3-2 to Washington and defeated UCLA by the same score.
The win over the Bruins was a much-needed one, as it came on the heels of a tough-to-swallow 6-2 loss to Oregon State and the sting of the defeat at the hands of the Huskies.
“Without question, it was an incredible response from last Sunday’s game,” head coach Kevin Grimes told the school’s official site after the win. “The players put a lot into this week of training and were able to put together a fantastic performance today. It took a little longer than we thought, but give credit to UCLA for scoring two goals at the end. Ultimately, we came through with a huge goal in overtime and got the great win.”
Christian Thierjung was the hero that day, as he kicked in the winning goal in the 98th minute of action. Cal had let a 2-0 lead slip away late in the action, as UCLA scored in the 85th and 89th minutes of play. But Thierjung made sure it would be a day to remember for the Golden Bears.
“We tried to get the ball out wide and swing crosses, and the pass came through,” Thierjung said. “You always have to be ready to get the ball and I happened to be at the right place at the right time. It was a great feeling coming off two road losses against Washington and Oregon State. We knew we had to come out strong again. We had a great week of training, went through the film and we knew this was going to be a battle – it is always a battle against UCLA. We fought until the end and got the W.”
Thierjung has scored six times this year and assisted on two others, while Stefano Bonomo leads the team with eight goals. Connor Hallisey is the leader in points, having scored seven times and assisted on nine other goals.
Incredibly, the Bears own 39 assists as a team on just 34 goals, as Max Oldhma and Seth Casiple each have tallied six assists.
Justin Taillole has made 10 starts in goal, recording 50 saves and allowing 11 balls to get past him.
California is a perfect 6-0 at home this year, where they have outscored the opposition 20-9.