Cal Looking To Stay Focused Despite Fast Start - By Chris Teale

The Cal men’s soccer team has made a fast start to the 2013 NCAA season, going 4-0-1 with wins over powerhouses Georgetown and Maryland as well as San Francisco and Colgate. However, the Golden Bears are keen to stress that while they have made a good start, there is still work to be done.

The team’s Head Coach Kevin Grimes has been pleased with his squad’s efforts so far, but is especially keen that they keep their concentration as the season goes on, despite what has been a promising opening four weeks that has seen them leap to #3 in the NSCAA rankings.

“We certainly would like to continue to improve week to week on all aspects of the team,” Grimes said. “We’re only four weeks into the regular season and I don’t think we have peaked by any stretch of the imagination. I think individual and team improvement are really critical this week, to improve as a squad.

“To stay focused, I think that’s the most important thing. To stay focused on ourselves and to use that is really our best ammunition.”

Despite the 3-0 win over Colgate on September 20 to continue their unbeaten start, Grimes knows that there are plenty of tough tests ahead for his players. However, the way that they have all taken responsibility and all been invested in shaping the direction of the team is a major positive for the Golden Bears.

“I think more than anything the collective leadership across the team has been very strong. I also think that last season the team was so close to making the postseason, we probably missed out by one victory.

“I think that had a lasting effect on them when we came back in January for the spring semester, knowing that we were so close to making the Tournament and not getting in was a pretty bitter taste in our mouths. So there’s certainly some hunger and some intensity there that the players have each and every time on the field. They want to continue to have that throughout the rest of the season.”

In particular, Grimes has been especially impressed with the work of his returning players, who have ensured that the team’s eight freshmen recruits have been instantly aware of what is expected of them as a Cal soccer player.

“The [senior players] have been dynamite. The leadership all across the board has been fantastic. I think the players have done a great job of mentoring the incoming players. We’ve got eight incoming freshmen and the older guys have done a wonderful job of making it crystal clear what our culture is at Cal and what we’re all about and how important that team culture is to our results during the season. Certainly it’s paying dividends for us right now.”

With such a strong start and a team that has a great deal of experience and promise, Grimes believes that this year’s Golden Bears can go far, especially after the disappointment of missing the last two NCAA Tournaments.

“We’re really excited,” he added. “This is an older group, we’re a junior and senior-laden team. A lot of the starters have logged a lot of minutes and gotten a lot of starts over their careers.

“That is a great thing to have as a team, to be in a position where you’ve got experienced players all over the field, and that’s what we currently have right now. We’re really happy with that. If we can stay healthy and keep driving ourselves forward to keep improving, we certainly like this team’s chances.”

Cal next faces the College of Charleston on Sunday, September 22, hoping to maintain what has been a superb start to the season.

Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @chris-teale 

Free-Scoring UAB Unconcerned By Recent Drought - By Chris Teale

The University of Alabama at Birmingham began the 2013 NCAA men’s soccer season on fire, scoring seemingly at will and defeating all comers as they streaked to a 3-0-0 record, including 2012 National Champions Indiana.

However, the Blazers have not scored in their last two games, a 0-0 tie with Charlotte and a 1-0 loss to East Tennessee State, dropping from #8 in the NSCAA national poll to #20 and from #12 in the College Soccer News poll to #19 in the space of a week.

Blazers Head Coach Mike Getman insists that he is not worried by his team’s problems in front of goal, and believes they will turn things around soon.

“I think that our team is a very good team and we’re going to continue to score lots of goals,” Getman said. “I think that both weekends are maybe a little bit misleading. The opening weekend, we were absolutely on fire but it seemed like everything we touched went in the net and you don’t expect that to carry on throughout an entire season.

“This weekend, we came up against two of the very best defensive teams in the country. Both of them played extremely well, we hit the post in both games and had several other good chances but when you play Top 25 teams you know you’re not going to score four or five goals very often.

“I think that goal scoring tends to some days go your way and some days not. If it continues to be zeros, then obviously I’ll be a bit concerned.”

Getman believes it is the fitness of his players and their high work ethic that has contributed to their success already this year, and it is that work ethic amongst other things that will keep them among the top programs in the country.

“I think the players have worked incredibly hard in every match,” Getman said. “We came into preseason very fit, I was pleased with how hard the guys worked over the summer. They came back fit, which has allowed them to work hard every game and so I would say that’s been the biggest key to our success so far.”

UAB has already played several top-ranked teams, including Virginia Commonwealth as well as Indiana and Charlotte, all of which have at some point in the top 25 of the NSCAA poll. Getman believes this competition against the premier college teams has been of immense benefit for his players.

“They’ve been very important, that’s why we scheduled those games at the start of the season,” he said. “We want to see what we’re good at, we want to see what we’re not good at and learn from those things as quickly as we can. If you don’t play big games until the middle of the season, you might have a lot of wins but you’re not nearly as prepared as you would like to be. Every match we’ve played so far has taught us some very important lessons and hopefully we can keep learning every match we play.”

The Blazers are in the midst of a stretch of home games, and welcome Mercer to West Campus Field on September 21, hoping to improve further on their 3-1-1 record.

Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @Chris_teale. 

Saint Louis Excited For Connecticut Matchup, Unfazed By Recent Results - By Chris Teale

Saint Louis will go into Saturday September 21’s game away to the University of Connecticut on the back of a week that saw them take their first loss of the season, but the #13 ranked Bilikens are adamant that past results will count for nothing against one of the top teams in the country.

UConn is without a win in two games after a 0-0 tie against Washington and a 1-0 loss to Bradley, but Mike McGinty believes that his Saint Louis side will face something of a backlash at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium.

“I wish [UConn] had won both of them, so that we could sneak in when they maybe aren’t on their guard,” McGinty said. “This early in the season, there are a lot of really strange results and I don’t think those two results are any indication of the quality they have on the field or how strong their team is.

“I think that everybody in these early days are still trying to figure themselves out a little bit and occasionally you get some funky scorelines. We’re certainly not looking at it and saying ‘Oh yeah, they’re really down this week’ because of what happened last week.”

McGinty’s side travel to play the Huskies, who were ranked #3 in the NSCAA poll on September 10, and the Bilikens’ Head Coach believes it will be an intriguing clash.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I think it’s a really good game for both programs. Both teams try to play, I’ve got a lot of respect for the way UConn plays and how they go about their business. I think the fans at the game will get their money’s worth, I think you’ll see two teams that try to play the game in the right way. They try to get the ball and move it, and I’m expecting it to be a lot of fun.”

The Bilikens lost for the first time this season on September 11, going down 2-1 to Evansville in double overtime. However, they made amends days later on September 14 by beating Denver 1-0 to improve their record to 4-1-0 in what has been a very impressive start.

“It was tough emotionally, because we probably played better against Evansville and found a way to lose the match,” McGinty said. “We were going for the win, there were 30 seconds left, we ended up turning the ball over and going down in a heartbreaking fashion.

“The good thing about college soccer is you get to play a couple of days later and get back on the horse so it was an important mental game for us against Denver. Denver is a good team, there were a lot of things to deal with, but I think the biggest thing for our group was getting back into it and getting themselves a W.”

Junior goalkeeper Nick Shackelford has earned rave reviews, having kept three shutouts already this season as Saint Louis has built a strong defense, and McGinty believes this stability at the back is a large factor in their recent good results.

“To be honest, we’ve only given up a couple of goals against Evansville which I think we could all have done a little bit better on,” McGinty said. “I think everybody doing their parts defensively definitely helps each and every game.

“Nick’s been sharp for us when he’s had to, and there have been large portions of games where he’s had very little to do so I think collectively we’re pretty sound defensively. We could always be a little better but we would like to think we could get shutouts week-in, week-out.”

The Bilikens have enjoyed a superb start to the season, coming off a 2012 season that saw them win the Atlantic 10 title and take the #8 seed at that year’s College Cup. However, McGinty and his players are hopeful they can improve on what was a strong showing last year and have spent a great deal of time building towards that.

“Every team in America wants to go further, other than Indiana,” he said. “Everybody wants to go further, and that’s been the message throughout last spring and the summer: ‘Well done last year, what can we improve upon?’

“Everybody within the group has set their own individual goals to be a little bit higher than they were last year, and the team has got a couple of goals to push ourselves and get better and make a better run in the playoffs this year.”

Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News.  You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or follow him on Twitter @Chris_teale.