Pilots fall to Cal Bears in overtime

By Jamison White | September 9, 2017 10:48pm

The Pilots scored one goal on Friday night against the Cal Bears. Sophomore Benji Michel netted the goal, his sixth of the season.
by Jamison White / The Beacon

Pilot men’s soccer fell to the California Golden Bears after a physical match on Friday night, 2-1, in double overtime. 

The Pilots welcomed the University of California Golden Bears to Merlo Field as a mix of clouds and smoke filled the sky, and rain drizzled down. The Pilots looked to stay hot as they were coming off three straight wins, including two that came in dominant fashion. The three games included a 6-0 win over Fairfield University and a 5-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.

The Golden Bears came to Merlo looking to turn things around, as their only win in the season coming into the game was over Northeastern University in a 1-0 victory, presenting a daunting task at Merlo Field against the Pilots.

The Pilots came out aggressively controlling the ball early as they tried to put it in the box from the left side within the first minute. Following it up quickly with a shot by sophomore Rey Ortiz that sailed over the goal, an unusual miss from Ortiz in the second minute.

The Golden Bears did not back down, however, as they returned with a close call on a header by Cal Senior Jose Carrera-Garcia which missed just far of the right post.

The aggressiveness continued as senior captain for the Pilots, Matthew Coffey, got booked early for a yellow card on a slide tackle within the first five minutes. This was quickly matched by the Golden Bears as junior Matt Locklear was booked for a yellow card as he slide tackled Rey Ortiz as he was making a run up the right side of the field. 

This was followed later by a booking in the 17 minute when junior Ugo Rebecchini of California was given a yellow card for his slide tackle. 

Both teams traded shots early, including a close call as junior Spencer Held that nearly put the Golden Bears up early with a shot that rang off the crossbar as a sigh of relief came over Merlo Field. 

The first half was active as California boasted 6 shots and the Pilots 7. But the Pilots had five shots on goal, and the Bears had none, and neither team had managed to net a goal. 

The Pilots struck first early in the second half as Benji Michel scored his 6th goal of the season to give The Pilots a 1-0 lead. This lead was quickly taken away, however, by Cal junior Shinya Kadono who scored his first goal of the season four minutes later to tie the game.

Things got messy when members of both teams started to shove each other in the 66 minute over a free kick call. Players had to be separated by the referee, Chipalo Street, but no cards were handed out.

The game continued to be physical and up tempo even in the late stages. Street, the referee, let them play more and more as the game went on, including a no call when Pilot freshman Luke Hendel chased after a ball nearing the California box and was knocked down. The Pilot bench erupted with surprise and disappointment when a free kick was not rewarded.

Things started to tighten up a little when senior Golden Bear Jose Carrera-Garcia was given a yellow card in the 82 minute, followed by another yellow given to Halil Beqaj of California in the 87 minute.

A slide tackle foul in the box gave The Pilots one last chance in regulation as Benji Michel lined up a penalty kick that would have ended the game. Michel went bottom left and the goalie, Drake Callender, guessed correctly and dove bottom left. No goal. 

The Pilots and Golden Bears headed to a first goal wins overtime period. This was almost quickly ended as Michel hit the crossbar two minutes in.

The physical play continued for California as sophomore David Burns was given a yellow card in the 93rd minute, the sixth given to the Golden Bears in the game. 

This escapade of a game came to an end when sophomore Simon Lekressener sent California fans home happy when he scored his first goal of the season and giving the Golden Bears the win 2-1.

Contact sports reporter Jamison White at whitej20@up.edu.