BERKELEY – The top-ranked California Golden Bears (11-1-2, 5-0-1 Pac-12) defeated the San Diego State Aztecs (5-9-1, 2-5-1 Pac-12) 3-2 on Friday afternoon at Goldman Field in Berkeley, in what was head coach Kevin Grimes’ 150th career victory. The Bears scored a trio of goals in a six-minute flurry in the first half, including a pair from junior midfielder Seth Casiple. Midfielder Ryan Neil also added his first goal of the season in the win. San Diego State mounted a late comeback effort behind a pair of goals by midfielder Kody Duff, but Cal was able to finish the game off for its 11th win on the season.
“The team bounced back tremendously from last week,” said Grimes. “You couldn’t ask for a better start to the game, but it just goes to show that a three goal lead in a soccer game is not safe, so give San Diego State credit for bouncing back and putting a couple in on us. Ultimately we did a great job managing the match and had a great performance today.”
It took the Bears just a quarter of an hour to open the scoring, as Neil received a pass from defender Mason Case and turned his defender to create space. He then beat another defender on the dribble before finishing well to the back post from just outside the penalty area to give Cal an early 1-0 lead.
In the 20th minute, the Bears doubled their lead, as Casiple tallied his first goal of the season. Junior defender Christian Dean collected the ball after an attempted clearance by the San Diego State defense and played it to the feet of Casiple. The midfielder then slotted the ball coolly to the near post to provide the home side with a 2-0 advantage.
The tandem of Dean and Casiple struck again almost immediately in the 21st minute, when Dean found Casiple inside the area. Casiple flicked the ball past a sprawling John Marcuzzo. Cal then took its 3-0 lead into the halftime break.
The Aztecs were held off of the scoresheet until the 80th minute of play, when midfielder Kody Duff notched his third goal of the campaign. He was played in by San Diego State’s point leader, Abraham Villon, and slotted the ball past Cal goalkeeper Justin Taillole to bring the Aztecs within two, at 3-1.
Just three minutes later, Duff doubled his tally, converting on a penalty kick, to draw San Diego State within one. The Bears nearly pushed the match out of reach, but forward Stefano Bonomo’s effort to chip Marcuzzo in the 88th minute trickled just wide and Cal held on for their coach’s 150th win.
“One hundred and fifty wins simply means that I’ve had the pleasure of training and coaching tremendous student athletes; the ones that are currently here as well as the ones over the last 14 years, it has been an honor,” Grimes added when asked of reaching the 150-win plateau. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get 150 wins at the NCAA level, but I am blessed that I have had so many wonderful players with me here at Cal.”
The Bears conclude their homestand on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 1:00 p.m. at Goldman Field against the No. 3 UCLA Bruins. Cal defeated UCLA 3-2 earlier this season on the road on Oct. 13 behind a golden goal just 32 seconds into the first overtime period by forward Stefano Bonomo. The game will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks and will have a special Senior Day pregame ceremony to honor the five Golden Bears’ seniors.