Photo by Noelle Davis
PASADENA, Calif. (Sept. 2, 2017) – Caltech men's soccer won its first game since 2011 in dominant fashion, shutting out Providence Christian College, 4-0, in the season opener on Saturday morning.
The injection of talent provided by seven freshmen in the starting lineup for their collegiate debuts gave the Beavers a completely different look than in recent years as they took control of the game almost immediately. Freshman Rohan Mirchandani (Pleasanton, Calif. / Foothill) and sophomore Kevin Yu (Park Ridge, N.J. / Park Ridge) each recorded one goal and assist, while rookie Gianfranco de Castro (Weston, Fla. / Cypress Bay) came off the bench to bag a brace and senior Chris Haack (New York, N.Y. / The Browning School), the lone upperclassman in the starting lineup, dished out two assists.
Caltech's intense pressure on the Sea Beggars defense led to five corner kicks within the opening 12 minutes, along with a one-on-one opportunity for Yu that essentially stuck to the PCC goalkeeper's glove on a miraculous save. Lauded rookie Joe Como (Glen Cove, N.Y. / Friends Acad.) was called upon to make his first career save in the 15th minute, but the Beavers only increased their attacking threat from that point, leaving him with little to do over the next 25 minutes.
Yu struck first for Caltech in the 19th minute as he ran onto a loose ball in the box, dribbled it around the keeper and snuck it inside the near post for the 1-0 lead. He provided one of two assists in the 30th minute on a well-connected through ball and touch across the face of goal by Mirchandani to de Castro, who slotted it home. The substitute added his second only five minutes later when Haack sent a long ball from the Beavers' half over the PCC back line. De Castro beat his marker to the ball just as the keeper arrived and managed to flick it up and over his outstretched arms, then watched it fly just beneath the crossbar and into the net.
The Sea Beggars were able to muster some offense in the waning minutes of the first half, putting three shots on goal over the final five minutes, but Como was up to the task every time and showcased impressive athleticism on a number of diving stops to keep the clean sheet intact.
The first 30 minutes of the second half consisted of both teams battling for the ball in the midfield, with only a single PCC shot on goal while each was called for six fouls trying to win possession. The Beavers began to build steam again with 10 minutes remaining and added a late tally on a play nearly identical to another two minutes prior, where Haack pushed a pass from the wing onto the corner of the six-yard box for Mirchandani to smash through the onrushing goalkeeper.
Como made six saves in the shutout while the Beavers held a 7-1 advantage on corner kicks and put half of their 18 shots on target, not including an early shot off the crossbar by sophomore Theo Yang (Columbia, Md. / Long Reach).
Head Coach Phil Murray and the Beavers head to the Pacific Northwest for a pair of games at Pacific Lutheran University early this week. Caltech will take on the host Lutes on Monday, Sept. 4 and George Fox University on Wednesday, Sept. 6 before returning home to begin SCIAC play on Saturday, Sept. 9.