Stanford gave the No. 1 team in the country a run for its money, but a controversial penalty kick awarded to Cal with less than five minutes remaining in the match gave the Bears a 1-0 victory in Berkeley Sunday afternoon.
Senior goalkeeper Drew Hutchins dove to his left, easily palming away the penalty that had been placed there by Cal’s Steve Birnbaum. But the senior could only lay prostrate after the save and watch as the rebound fell directly to the feet of Birnbaum with no defender in sight. Hutchins flailed out a despairing hand, but to no avail. With four minutes remaining, Birnbaum had given Cal the lead that it would go on to keep for the rest of the match.
In a match marred by the questionable penalty decision, the top-ranked Cal Bears (10-0-2, 4-0-1 Pac 12) eked out the victory against Stanford (6-4-2, 1-3-1 Pac 12), retaining its place at the top of the Pac-12 standings. Birnbaum’s penalty took him to a Pac-12-leading eight goals, while the loss extended a recent run of poor luck for Stanford, which has earned only one point from its last four games in conference play.
Stanford returns home for its next match hoping to regain momentum. The Cardinal welcomes the USF Dons to Cagan Stadium Friday night at 7 p.m.