Every sport’s rivalry game with California has a different edge to it. From the water polo teams to the field hockey squad, the Cardinal needs little reminding to get up for the game against the Golden Bears.
Tonight’s match for the men’s soccer team is no different, as Stanford (4-5, 1-1 Pac-12) needs a positive result to build more momentum in Pac-12 play on the tail end of a six-game homestand that ends with the game against Cal (6-3-1, 1-1).
“We’ve got a lot of confidence and are definitely looking forward to playing Cal,” said sophomore forward Zach Batteer. “After that, it’s just about making a good run in the Pac-12.”
Stanford is riding high after a tight 2-0 victory over San Diego State snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend. Cal is in a very similar boat–an OK preseason has left them likely needing to finish second in conference play to earn a postseason berth.
Like the Cardinal, the Golden Bears split the series with San Diego State and UCLA last weekend, knocking off the Aztecs in overtime and losing to the Bruins 3-1.
But Cal had been hot before last weekend with a six-game unbeaten streak, rebounding nicely from last year’s disastrous season, in which they slipped to 3-9-5 overall and a dismal 0-7-3 in Pac-12 play.
Much of that is due to strong play from midfielders Tony Salciccia and Seth Casiple–who have combined for 21 points together–and the play of forward Stefano Bonomo up top. Bonomo has three game-winning goals already this year, and leads the team in goals with five.
And Casiple has followed up a nice freshman campaign with a good sophomore one, tallying six assists and two goals on the season.
The Bears’ back line is rounding into form as well, with Christian Dean, Bobby Sekine, Ryan Neil and Kyle Marsh allowing just two goals in the six games prior to the loss against UCLA.
Stanford senior Adam Jahn and company aim to find the cracks in the back line, however, likely with a barrage of shots from all over the field. Through its first nine games, the Cardinal is outshooting its opponents 167-85, despite being outscored 12-11.
Jahn’s five goals–a career high–lead the team and are fourth in the conference, but coach Jeremy Gunn will likely need a couple more sources of firepower going forward in the season. Redshirt sophomore Austin Meyer has three assists and a goal, and freshman Aaron Kovar has two goals in six games, but the rest of the lineup has been unable to really break through and find the net.
The Cardinal does lead the all-time series 26-21-8, and hasn’t lost to Cal since 2010, but will need to capitalize on the final game of a nearly month-long homestand after opening the year on the road.
Tonight’s matchup will kick off at 7 p.m. at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium as both sides try to gain an early edge in the difficult Pac-12 and move back over .500 in conference play.