BERKELEY – Steve Birnbaum scored in dramatic fashion – pouncing on the rebound of his missed penalty kick and putting the ball in the back of the net in the 86th minute - to lift No. 1 California to a 1-0 victory over Stanford on Sunday afternoon on Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium. The Golden Bears’ record improved to 10-0-2 (4-0-1 in the Pac-12) after their third straight victory, while the Cardinal fell to 6-4-2 (1-3-1 Pac-12).
The goal was the Pac-12 Conference-leading eighth of the season for the senior defender.
The referee called for a penalty kick when he judged that a Stanford player fouled Cal freshman forward Nick Lima in the Cardinal's box. Cardinal goalkeeper Drew Hutchins saved Birnbaum’s ensuing penalty kick, but Birnbaum made no mistake on the rebound.
Before that point, the rivals were deadlocked on the scoreboard at 0-0, in shots at 13-13, in saves with six apiece, and even in fouls with 10 each. The Bears did have a 6-2 corner-kick advantage.
“It was a great game today by two super, high-quality teams,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. “Both teams played with a lot of determination and desire. It was a great game for the fans to watch. We’re real pleased with our performance and with the outcome today.”
It was 0-0 at halftime despite some good scoring chances in the first 45 minutes. Stanford’s Jordan Morris’ took a close-range shot that Justin Taillole saved at 7:05 and Lima hit the woodwork with a shot at 41:40.
At 63:25, the Cardinal produced one of its better chances when Eric Verso set up Zach Batteer for a long-range shot that went just high of Cal’s crossbar. The Bears produced a similar effort at 81:23, when freshman forward Christian Thierjung’s shot just cleared the Stanford crossbar.
The Cardinal had one last chance, but Verso’s shot with eight seconds left went wide.
Taillole made six saves in 90 minutes, while Hutchins wound up with seven.
Cal played in front of a season-high crowd of 2,012.
“The crowd was absolutely fantastic today,” Grimes added. “We appreciate our community, our student-athletes and all of the soccer teams and clubs for coming out and consistently watching us play. They were the 12th man again today, so thank you again to them for helping us in today’s match.”
Cal continues its homestand when it hosts San Diego for a nonconference match on Friday, Oct. 25, at 3:30 p.m.