PALO ALTO, Calif. – The fifth-ranked California Golden Bears (12-4-2, 6-3-1 Pac-12) fell in overtime to the rival Stanford Cardinal (9-6-3, 3-5-2 Pac-12) 2-1 on Wednesday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium at Maloney Field in Palo Alto. The Bears fought back from a one goal deficit after Stanford forward Zach Batteer’s first half goal when senior midfielder Alec Sundly converted a 52nd minute penalty kick. Unfortunately for Cal, they were bitten by the golden goal in the 92nd minute in overtime as Cardinal midfielder Aaron Kovar snatched the victory for the home side in the second edition of the Bay Area Derby.
“Tonight was a hard-fought match,” said Cal head coach Kevin Grimes “We certainly played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first, so we are happy how we ended the regular season performance-wise. We are looking forward to an 11-day break before our first playoff match.”
Stanford applied the majority of the pressure in the first half and six minutes into the match, Morris threatened to open the scoreline. He put himself into a dangerous area, but Cal goalkeeper Alex Mangels was equal to the task and made the save. Batteer and Stanford did eventually get the opener, however, as Morris broke in free on goal. He slid a pass across the face of the goal and Batteer slotted it home for his eighth goal of the season in the 19th minute.
The Cardinal threatened to double their advantage in the 22nd minute when Morris finished a long run in the area, but Mangels made a diving save to keep the Bears within one goal, which is how the two sides headed into the halftime break.
Cal seemed revitalized in the second half, and created a multitude of chances in the early stages of the second half. They equalized in the 52nd minute, when Sundly buried his chance from the penalty spot. A handball in the Stanford penalty area set up the opportunity, and Sundly made no mistake, finishing into the corner to Cardinal goalkeeper Drew Hutchins’ right.
The Bears continued to push forward, searching for the go-ahead goal. Junior midfielder Seth Casiple’s free kick just five minutes after the Bears’ goal nearly gave them the lead. His effort forced a quick reaction save by Hutchins at the back post. In the 63rd minute, freshman Christian Thierjung had a shot from the edge of the penalty area that seemed destined for the top corner, but the slightest of deflections sent it inches wide for a corner kick.
In the 79th minute, junior midfielder Connor Hallisey received a low cross from defender Christian Dean in the box, but Hutchins made an incredible diving save to keep things level at 1-1.
Stanford had an opportunity for a winner of their own just one minute from time in regulation when freshman forward Mark Verso had his shot blocked at the last minute by Bears’ freshman defender Mason Case.
Unfortunately for Cal, Wednesday night ended in a similar fashion to their overtime loss at No. 3 Washington on Sunday. Stanford’s Kovar sent the home crowd into a frenzy when his knifing run into the penalty area ended with a quality finish for the golden goal less than two minutes into the first overtime period.
The Bears very successful regular season transitions now into the postseason, and they now await the NCAA Tournament draw, which will take place on Monday, Nov. 18 at 9 a.m. PT to find out who their first opponent will be.