No. 16 Bears Open Camp Ahead of 2015 Season
BERKELEY, Calif. - The No. 16 California Golden Bears men's soccer program opened preseason camp on Wednesday morning at Golden Bear Field, as the 2015 season approaches. The Bears return six starters from a team that reached the 2013 NCAA Round of 16 and welcome a new group of eight talented newcomers into the fold for the young outfit.
"The first thing we saw was a lot of great energy and a competitive edge to everthing that we did," head coach Kevin Grimes said on Wednesday morning. "They are obviously really excited to be back and ready to play. It is a long layoff between seasons, so when you get here, everybody is so much looking forward to the start of the season."
Wednesday's early morning training session at Golden Bear was the first organized team activity since late November of last year, and the returners were very excited to get back out on the field together. The team concluded the morning with a 2-v-2 tournament that saw the blue team seize the first vicotory of the preseason. The squad was comprised of senior goalkeeper Alex Mangels, junior defender Trevor Haberkorn, sophomore midfielder Aravind Sivakumar, redshirt sophomore defender Chris Argueta and freshman Sam Junqua, who posed for the customary team photo at the conclusion of the training session.
"Everyone has that fire because it is the first day of preseason," Mangels said following practice. "The intensity picks up a little bit, which feels good. I think the big thing (in the preseason) is to figure out where everyone stands. We have a lot of new faces and we have a very young team, so figuring out how to gel together in this competitive environment is key. We need to use these next two weeks to figure that out pretty quickly."
Among the several new faces in Berkeley is freshman forward Spencer Held, who was the nation's leading scorer last season for the Real So Cal Academy in southern California. He tallied 33 goals in 37 games played, helping to lead his club to a wild card spot in the playoffs.
"It's a lot different than academy," Held said when asked about his first day of training. "It's a lot more of a physical game, but I really like the team so far and I feel like we are playing really good soccer. It's just the beginning, which is exciting."
After a few days of double sessions here in Berkeley, splitting time between Golden Bear Field and Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium, the team will head to Southern California for a few days of training in Fullerton, culminating with an exhibition match against the Titans of Cal State Fullerton. Cal then returns home to host Pacific on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at Edwards at 4:30 p.m., and Saint Mary's on Saturday, Aug, 22 at 2 p.m.
"It feels great to be back out here with the team," junior forward Christian Thierjung added on Wednesday. "We haven't seen the coaches for a while, and we are all very excited to get up early for practice and Eloi (Vasquez) is up here with us, making sure we are out here working hard."
Once the preseason wraps up, the Bears head back down to Southern California on Aug. 28 to battle another NCAA Tournament team, San Diego, who like the Bears, were knocked out of the tournament by eventual runners-up, UCLA. Cal then makes its way back to Berkeley for five consecutive home matches, beginning with VCU on Friday, Sept. 4. A road date with Santa Clara on Sept. 25 follows, and then the Bears delve into their Pac-12 schedule, hosting the first leg of the Bay Area Derby against Stanford on Sunday, Oct. 4.
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