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California Athletics | December 1, 2013

California advances to quarterfinals

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The fourth-seeded California Golden Bears (14-4-2, 6-3-1 Pac-12) defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (19-5-0, 9-1-0 Big South) 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at Goldman Field in the third round of the NCAA Division I tournament. Bears midfielder Alec Sundly scored a 65th-minute goal to lead Cal into the quarterfinals next weekend against the fifth-seeded Maryland Terrapins.

Bears goalkeeper Alex Mangels posted the shutout against the nation’s highest scoring team and made five saves in the win.

“Coastal Carolina obviously is an outstanding team and had a great season this year,” Cal head coach Kevin Grimes said. “We knew that we would have to be at our best in order to get the victory [Sunday] and our players played an outstanding game.”

The first half saw both sides create quality opportunities, though the Bears outshot the Chanticleers 10-6 at the break. The first real chance of the match came in the 17th minute for Coastal Carolina, as some nice combination play set up sophomore forward Jakub Stourac for a shot that was saved by Mangels.

Cal then created a pair of back-to-back opportunities, as senior defender Steve Birnbaum rose to meet a Seth Casiple cross at the back post, but his 22nd minute header was saved by Chanticleers’ goalkeeper Devin Cook. Just a minute later, forward Omid Jalali made a long run that concluded with a well-played cross that picked out Sundly inside the area, but his shot was deflected inches wide on a spectacular save by Cook.

The Chanticleers came right back at the Bears in the 24th minute on a set piece of their own. Coastal Carolina’s leading scorer, midfielder Pedro Ribeiro, shot from about 25 yards out and it seemed destined for the near post’s top corner, but Mangels knocked it above the bar.

The Bears had the last two quality chances of the half, when freshman midfielder Christian Thierjung received a pass from Sundly in a dangerous spot, but Cook was there again with a sprawling save to keep things level in the 39th minute of play. Cook recorded another of his nine saves on the afternoon when he parried away a near-post effort from junior midfielder Max Oldham just two minutes before the stroke of halftime.

In the 56th minute, the Chanticleers were nearly first on the board, as Ribeiro found himself in a good position to try his luck on goal, from about 20 yards out. His shot went just wide of the Cal goal, keeping the game scoreless.

The sides traded quality opportunities, as Cal midfielder Connor Hallisey made a nice run to set himself up for a shot just outside the penalty area. Cook was there again, to keep the Bears off the scoresheet, saving and holding Hallisey’s effort well. Coastal Carolina then almost grabbed the lead in the 64th minute when freshman midfielder Sergio Camargo’s attempt from roughly 22 yards away was saved nicely by a diving Mangles at the near post.

Cal finally broke through for the first goal of the match under a minute later, when Jalali took a shot from inside the penalty area that forced a diving save from Cook. Sundly’s back post run saw him unmarked as the rebound came to him and he finished his opportunity into the roof of the gaping net to put the Bears in front 1-0 in the 65th minute. This marked Sundly’s third goal of the tournament, and his fifth in his past four games, dating back to Nov. 10 at Washington.

“We put so much into the team, so much work both on and off the pitch,” Sundly said. “Anything I can do to help the team, I will. We are really truly like a family, which is why we have been successful so far and we hope to keep it going into next week.”

Camargo nearly equalized in the 74th minute when his shot from the edge of the area appeared to be headed goal-bound, but Mangels was there to make a diving save to keep Cal in front.

The Bears almost doubled their advantage just three minutes later, as a backheel pass from forward Stefano Bonomo sent Thierjung through on goal. His low shot was saved very well by Cook, who kept the Chanticleers in it once again.

A last-ditch effort from Coastal Carolina in the 89th minute saw junior forward Ricky Garbanzo with some space at the back post, but Mangels came up with yet another save to secure the shutout victory for the Golden Bears.

The Bears now advance to host a quarterfinal match at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Edwards Stadium against Maryland, who defeated UC Irvine 1-0 in College Park on Sunday. Cal and Maryland met earlier this season in September, when the Bears left Goldman Field with a 3-2 overtime win.

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