BERKELEY – Steve Birnbaum made a big impact in his return to the pitch, and college soccer watchers took notice, as the Pac-12 Conference and TopDrawerSoccer.com named California’s fifth-year senior their Player of the Week and CollegeSoccerNews.com named him to its Team of the Week. The Golden Bear defender scored Cal’s second goal against then-No. 3 Georgetown in a 2-0 upset of the Hoyas in the season opener on Aug. 30, and then he scored the first goal and assisted on the golden goal in a 3-2 overtime upset of then-No. 2 Maryland on Sept. 1 on Goldman Field.
Birnbaum, a central defender who had scored just two goals through his first three seasons, leads Cal in points (5) and goals (2) through two games in 2013.
An injury forced Birnbaum – who was an All-Pac-12 first-team selection in 2011 – to redshirt 2012, after he played in 15 minutes of one match early in the season. He has already played in 186 minutes and 10 seconds in 2013.
“You can’t even describe it,” junior midfielder Connor Hallisey said of Birnbaum’s influence on the team. “That kid, he’ll come on and change a game; just him. He’s the type of individual who can change a season.”
This week the Bears head across the bay to take on San Francisco on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m. at Negoesco Stadium.