The Cal men’s soccer team got its first win of the season in dramatic fashion against Portland on Friday, tying the game with three minutes left in regulation before scoring a golden goal in overtime for a 2-1 victory.
The Bears’ goals, scored by sophomores Noah Merl and Mike Muñoz, respectively, were also their first two goals of the young season. Cal (1-1-1) was shut out in both games at the Loyola Marymount Tournament last weekend.
Merl’s goal came in the 87th minute. A Cal freekick deep in Portland (2-1-0) territory bounced around and was cleared to Merl at midfield. He juked past one defender and launched a shot from 25 yards out that deflected off of a Pilot foot and skimmed past goalkeeper Curtis Spiteri, who may have been shaken up after being kicked in the head by one of his teammates moments earlier.
Merl’s goal sent the game into overtime at 1-1, and the Bears ended the game in the first 10-minute extra period. Sophomore Calen Carr, a Berkeley native, took a ball on the left wing and hit a cross that Muñoz flicked into the side-netting. Muñoz raced behind the goal and ripped his jersey off in celebration, the first of the year for the Bears.
“That’s all we’ve been doing in practice, working on crosses,” Muñoz said. “Caleb put a great ball in, and I was lucky enough to go up and get it.”
Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said he wasn’t too worried about his team’s ability to score despite the two shutouts last weekend.
“Goals are streaky, they come and they go,” Grimes said. “We’ve traditionally started slowly, and the goals start to come later for us.”
Portland came into the game ranked No. 7 in the country, while the Bears dropped out of the rankings after the LMU Tournament. Although Cal is a young team (just two seniors and five juniors), the Bears felt a need to get back on track quickly.
“We try not to pay attention to the rankings,” Merl said. “But when it comes down to it, we killed our reputation last weekend. We had to come out strong this weekend and get a win, maybe two.”
The Bears face No. 22 Southern Methodist on Sunday. The game will kick off at 1 p.m. at Edwards Stadium.