#40 California Men's Soccer 2012 Preview

California Golden Bears

Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #3 Pac-12
California Men's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
California Team Page


If you are looking for a team that can go from worst to first, well first may be a stretch, look no further than California. The Golden Bears failed to win a conference game last season, but there was not a senior on the roster. The team has grown up together and things will be a lot different this year. Obviously it is a long road between a 3-9-5 team and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, but California has plenty of returning talent and some new faces who will also battle for playing time.

2011 Record: 3-9-5, 0-7-3
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Kevin Grimes

Are last year’s freshmen ready to become more productive sophomores? Are the juniors ready to emerge as senior leaders? Coach Kevin Grimes relied heavily on freshmen last year and the results proved what happens when too many freshmen are trying to compete in a very tough league. Seth Casiple is one of those freshmen who was thrown onto the pitch and performed very well. He led the team with six assists and should emerge as Cal’s top playmaker in 2012. Christian Dean spent his summer competing with the United States U-20 team in Uruguay and Chile. Dean earned one start during the trip and is expected to be a staple in Cal’s backline for the next three years. While Dean was in the South America, the rest of the team was on a two week tour of Italy. California played the U20 squads for Roma, Fiorentina, Siena, Atalanta and Novara. They went 2-2-1 in those five contests and that is some very tough competition. The return of defender Ted Jones cannot hurt a defense that allowed quite a few shots.

The young players will get better, but somebody needs to step up and become a true goal scorer. Last year nobody took more than 30 shots. Ten players took at least 11 shots on the season. For one, that is not a lot of shots and secondly, the team simply lacked a big time scoring threat. John Fitzpatrick is now a senior leader who could take on that role. He only took 20 shots last season, but he did lead the team with 11 shots on target and five goals. If Fitzpatrick can get more opportunities and keep his shooting percentage close to what he did in 2011, he will be a great scorer. Michael Munoz is another senior striker who has the potential to step into that leadership role. But this group will need more than just leadership. The Italy trip has restored some confidence, but this is still a team that was pretty awful across the board last season. The talent level does not appear to be that bad, but California still has to prove it and that takes some victories.

Final Projection:
There is good news and bad news on the defensive front. California allowed a lot of goals last season and it remains to be seen how much better the defense will be in 2012. However, the goalies did pretty well considering all the shots that were being fired at them. Robby Gogatz started 11 games and allowed 19 goals. He was eventually replaced by then freshman Kevin Peach, who allowed nine goals in seven games. Peach, at 6-6, is an imposing presence in goal and did face most of the tougher competition on Cal’s schedule. His experience last season should prove invaluable. He is not a bad keeper, and neither is Gogatz. They just need the guys in front of them to hang onto the ball a little more and not allow the competition to average over 17 shots per game again this year.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: John Fitzpatrick, Senior, F, 5
Assists: Seth Casiple, Sophomore, M, 6
Shots: Tony Salciccia, Senior, M, 30
Saves: Robby Gogatz, Junior, GK, 47