With a goal by Alec Sundly, his 5th goal in 4 matches, in the second half, the Bears defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 1-0 (Goalie Alex Mangels with the shutout by recording 5 saves) to advance to the NCAA Men's Soccer Division I Tournament Quarter-final (or Elite Eight) next weekend, when they get to have a rematch with the 5th overall seed Maryland on Saturday, December 7th at 1:30 PM PT. Bears defeated the Terps 3-2 in OT in the second match of the season for both squads. The winner of that match will advance to the College Cup, taking place this year near Philadelphia, PA.
Video recap is below:
California Golden Bears (13-4-2, 6-3-1 Pac-12) vs. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (19-4-0, 9-1-0 Big South)
When: 1:30 PM PT
Where: Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium
TV: Pac-12 Networks (1st postseason play of any sport to ever be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks!)
NCAA Div I Men's Soccer Bracket: NCAA.com
With senior defender and the team's leading goal scorer Steve Birnbaum back for the Bears' first match of the NCAA tournament last week, a 3-1 win over Bradley, the Bears are looking to recapture the same form that made them the No.1 team in the country for 6 straight weeks in the middle of this season. Without Birnbaum who suffered an injury in the Oregon State win, the Bears lost their final two regular season matches (it may be important to also note that these matches were on the road and the Bears were edged in OT) and the Pac-12 crown. Besides scoring goals, Birnbaum added one more goal in the 2nd round win, "Birny" is instrumental in leading the Cal defensive effort. In the victory over the Bradley Braves last Sunday, the rejuvenated Cal defense only allowed 5 shot on goal in the first half (and 15 for the match). The late slip by the Bears have dropped them to 7th in the RPI and 6th in the Coaches' Poll. Bears have a 9-2-1 home record this season, with an inexplicable midseason loss to San Diego that snapped a 12 match unbeaten streak to start the year and a loss and a draw to top 2 teams in the country in UCLA and Washington, respectively.
By the way, you can and should vote for Birny for the Soccer News Player of the Year here.
Up against the Bears today are the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers from the Big South conference. The 18th ranked on the Coaches' Poll (and 19th in the RPI) Coastal Carolina are unseeded in the NCAA tournament. They have beaten East Tennessee State 2-0 at home in the first round, follow by a 1-0 win over 14th seed Charlotte also on the road. The Chanticleers, or just "Chants" for short which is named after a fiery rooster from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, now have to leave the Carolinas (and the East Coast) for today's match with the Bears.
In addition to Birnbaum, the Cal offense features senior Alec Sundly who is on a personal 3 match scoring streak with 2 goals and an assist in the Bradley match. An unsung hero in the stat book but a great pro prospect, Cal defensive back Christian Dean has the size (6'3") and leg power to play in the MLS. Dean is sometimes used in free kick situations (part of the reason why he is tied for second on the team in assists with 4 with senior forward Ryan Neil). Junior midfielder Seth Casiple leads the Bears in assists with 7. Often coming on late in the halves, freshmen strikers Stefano Bonomo and Christian Theirjung both have had late game winning heroics against UCLA and USF, respectively. Behind the goal for the Bears may be Alex Mangels, who started the Bradley match and made 5 saves. Redshirt junior Justin Taillole has been the starter for most of the season for the Bears.
Playing in the weaker Big South conference (by the way, all 4 of the Pac-12 teams in the NCAA tournament are still alive in the Sweet Sixteen with No.1 UCLA, No.2 Washington, and Stanford), the Chants have scored 47 goals while conceding just 19. By comparison the Bears have scored 36 goals while conceding also just 19. Three Chants have more than 20 points and they are Pedro Ribeiro (11G, 7A, 29 Pts), Ricky Garbanzo (13G, 1A, 27 Pts), and Sergio Camargo (9G, 5A, 23 Pts). Camargo had the game winner in their 1st round win while Garbanzo had the game winner against Charlotte. All three postseason goals scored by the Chants have come in the first half (with Garbanzo's winner coming in the 4th minute), so the Bears better be ready right at the start. Devin Cook is the keeper for the Chants; he has a 0.79 goal against average with 12 shutouts. Unlike the Bears who have played in 7 OT matches, the Chants have only 1 OT match (a double OT win) this year.
Should the Bears be able to the quarterfinal round, they would likely host the winner between the 5th overall seed Maryland and the 12th seed UC Irvine. That match would either be on Friday or Saturday. The College Cup (NCAA Soccer's Final Four) this year will take place at PPL Park just outside Philadelphia, PA.
Some highlights from this season:
|5-0-0||Last 5 Games||2-3-0|
|11 (9-8-2)||NCAA App. (Record)||17 (12-15-1)|
Top Scorers (Goals/Assists/Points):
Coastal Carolina: Pedro Ribeiro (11/7/29)
Cal: Steve Birnbaum (10/1/21)
Cal's Statistical Leaders:
|##||SHOTS ON GOAL||GP||G||A||Shots||SOG||SOG%|
|##||GAME WINNING GOALS||GP||No.|