BERKELEY – California beats its second-straight highly ranked opponent – yet another 2012 College Cup semifinalist – when Alec Sundly scored a golden goal in the 97th minute and gave the Golden Bears a 3-2 overtime win over No. 2 Maryland on Sunday on Goldman Field. Cal improved to 2-0-0 on the young season, while the Terrapins opened with a 0-1-1 record.
“It was a great game by two evenly matched teams,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. “Both teams left everything on the field. Even though we gave up two leads, I think we were absolutely resilient in coming back in overtime and finding a way to make it happen.”
On the Bears’ winning goal, junior midfielder Seth Casiple took a corner kick that found Steve Birnbaum. The senior defender headed on goal, only to see Maryland goalkeeper Zach Steffen save shot. But the freshman goalie only managed to deflect the ball into the path of Sundly, and the senior midfielder and co-captain slammed the ball into the net from close range.
The result was different from when the last time the two teams played, as Cal lost at Maryland, 6-0, early last season.
“It was a tremendous clutch play,” Grimes said of Sundly’s winner. “He found a way to get in the right place at the right time. He was on the field last year in that game against Maryland, and I think he wanted to say, ‘Sorry. That wasn’t us, and this is us.’”
The Cal defense also kept Patrick Mullins – the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy winner – from scoring a goal or recording a shot, though the senior forward collected an assist. In fact the only No. 15 who scored a goal on the day was Birnbaum, Cal’s defender.
Two days earlier, Cal blanked third-ranked Georgetown, 2-0, also in Berkeley. The Hoyas edged the Terps on penalty kicks in last year’s NCAA College Cup semifinals before eventually losing in the national championship.
But the two results aren’t likely to go to the Bears’ heads.
“Our players are so experienced and so smart, they don’t look at polls,” Grimes said. “They don’t look at rankings. They don’t look at the jersey of the opponent. Every game is the same. There is no big game. They’re all the same. We looked at these games as just games one and two, and the next game we go play is game three, and then we go play like that for all 18.”
In Sunday’s game, Cal took the early lead over Maryland when Birnbaum scored in his second consecutive game, heading in Casiple’s corner at 13:46.
Cal took the 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Terps tied the match at 1-1 early in the second half, when at 46:12 Mullins passed to Schillo Tshuma, who scored from 10 yards.
The back and forth affair saw Cal retake the lead at 50:35, as Casiple and redshirt freshman defender Mason Case combined to set up Stefano Bonomo deep in the box. The junior forward scored from close to give Cal a 2-1 lead.
At 78:04, forward Jake Pace blasted the ball from range off of a Cal defender and into the net to tie the game yet again at 2-2.
The Terps outshot Cal, 3-1, over the rest of regulation, and sophomore goalkeeper Justin Taillole stopped two of them. In the 82nd minute, Tsubasa Endoh’s free kick curved over the wall, but Taillole was there for the save. He also saved Sunny Jane’s effort in the 83rd minute.
In the 85th minute, Cal junior midfielder Connor Hallisey put a shot on Cal, but Steffen made the save.
Maryland took the last shot of regulation, but Tshuma’s 90th-minute shot was high.
The teams then went into overtime, which Sundly quickly ended with his golden goal.
Taillole wound up with three saves, while Steffen collected five. The Bears outshot the Terps, 11-10, and had a 7-6 corner-kick advantage.
Cal returns to action when it plays at San Francisco in another nonconference match on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m.