BERKELEY – Three different Golden Bears scored and Stefano Bonomo earned the gamewinning goal in No. 4 California’s 3-1 victory over the College of Charleston, 3-1, on Sunday afternoon on Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium. Cal remained unbeaten at 5-0-1 after the nonconference match, while the Cougars fell to 1-5-0.
“It was a great performance,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. “We started off gloriously, scoring three goals in the first 30 minutes and hit the post that would’ve made it 4-0, so no complaints at all about how the team started. It became a great game between the teams. They had a lot of experience players on the field, and it really was a great match, from the beginning till the end.”
For the second consecutive game, Cal took an early 1-0 lead, as senior defender Steve Birnbaum scored his team-high fifth goal of the year from close range at the 11:47 mark, which junior defender Christian Dean and junior forward Stefano Bonomo earning assists on the play. Unlike most of his goals this year, this was the first Birnbaum scored with his foot in the run of play.
“I was up there just because there was a corner kick before that,” Birnbaum said. “I was kind of in the right place at the right time.”
At 19:36, senior midfielder Alec Sundly sent a nice bending ball from midfield to Bonomo, who ran onto the ball and scored.
Omid Jalali scored the third just 27 seconds after he entered the match as a substitute at 27:07. The junior midfielder stole the ball from a Cougar, dribbled into the box and scored past goalkeeper Ryan McLaughlin.
“It was my very first touch on the ball,” Jalali said. “Right before I went in, I told my teammates, ‘I think I’m going to score.’ First touch stole the ball, started going and stroked it in. Right away I came to sideline, and I said, ‘Yeah!’”
Charleston pulled one back when Xavier Rajpaul scored his second – and just his team’s second – goal of the season at 30:35, with Tucker Coon and Troy Peterson assisting on the goal.
Cal took the 3-1 lead into halftime. Despite the score, the Bears had just an 8-7 edge in shots and a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks in the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, Cal’s best chance to collect its fourth goal came on a free kick by Dean at 61:31, as the defender rapped his shot off the Cougars’ goalpost. Fellow defender Mason Case followed with a shot that went just high and wide.
While neither team scored in the second half, Cal outshot the Cougars, 10-2 in the final 45 minutes and forced McLaughlin to make three saves. Cal sophomore goalie Justin Taillole made two saves for the game, while McLaughlin made five total.
In the midst of a five-game homestand, Cal next hosts Santa Clara on Friday, Sept. 27, at 4:30 p.m. That is the last match before Cal begins Pac-12 Conference play, with an Oct. 3 game vs. Oregon State in Berkeley.