Oregon State Fights Back to Earn 2-2 Draw at California
BERKELEY, Calif. – The Oregon State men’s soccer team found itself down by a single goal on two separate occasions to California (3-4-4, 0-2-2 Pac-12) on Friday night, but as they have done all season, the Beavers (3-7-2, 1-2-1 Pac-12) fought back, tied things up both times and secured a 2-2 draw in the first game of a tough Pac-12 weekend road trip.
“I was proud of the way the guys responded,” Oregon State head coach Steve Simmons said. “We were fighting to win the game all the way through. We had the mentality to not just survive for a tie, but to go for the win. Getting a point here for our guys is a huge step in the right direction.”
Oregon State received contributions from up and down its lineup, as Alex Eckerson and Roberto Farfan marked the team’s tallies and Emery Welshman tied a school record by assisting on a goal for the fifth consecutive game.
For the second time this season Steve Spangler made six saves, including one in overtime, to help the Beavers earn their first point at Cal since they beat the Golden Bears, 2-0, on Oct. 12, 2003. The team had lost seven straight games in Berkeley.
“We dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker in overtime here last year and when I was an assistant 10 years ago it was a tough place to play,” Simmons said of the Beavers’ recent difficulties in the Bay Area. “For our guys to fight, and believe and compete like they did is huge, but we’re not going to stop – there is more to be had.”
Their perseverance initially paid off near the end of the first half, when, with his team down 1-0, Alex Eckerson showed why he is OSU’s leading goal scorer, gathering a loose ball and confidently pushing it past Cal keeper Robbie Gogatz for his fourth goal of the year.
In only his sophomore season, Eckerson’s four goals double his output from last year and now tie him with Colin Mitchell for the active team lead with six. The successful strike was his first since he netted the game-winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Gonzaga on Sept. 17.
“Alex hunted the ball down, picked it up, took a good shot from 13 to 14 yards away and did what you need to do,” Simmons said of the goal. “You have to bury the opportunity when it’s loose in there. A goal like that validates the guys’ efforts.”
Again, the Beavers found themselves down a goal in the second half when the Golden Bears were able to head in a goal off a cross to take a 2-1 advantage near the end of the 58th minute, but again, Oregon State would continue to push the ball forward and pressure the defense for the equalizer.
In what has become a staple of OSU’s play at the top of the box, Roberto Farfan and Emery Welshman worked a perfect give-and-go at the start of the 81st minute to bring the Beavers back even. The goal was Farfan’s third of the year and second in the last three games.
The assist for Welshman was his sixth of the season, which ties him for the Pac-12 lead, and was his fifth in the last five games, which ties an Oregon State record. In 1992, Chris Scotti registered an assist in five consecutive contests for a Beaver squad which won nine games. With a point in the past five games, Welshman tied himself with five other Beavers for third place in program history in that respect. Most recently, U.S. Men’s National Team striker and current Nottingham Forest forward Robbie Findley turned the trick in 2006.
“Emery has shown that he can bring people into the game, especially other players getting forward, and he’s done that with some very good assists,” Simmons said of his junior forward. “He is … contributing to the team by creating goals for others and creating chances for himself … [and] his are going to fall.”
Oregon State outshot its opponent for the third straight match, firing off 17 to California’s 16, and put nine of those on goal. The Beavers also held the edge in corner kicks, 10 to seven.
OSU continues its weekend trip with a match against Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m.
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