BERKELEY, Calif. - Alec Sundly finished with two goals and an assist, leading fourth-seeded and sixth-ranked California (13-4-2) to a 3-1 win against Bradley (14-7-2) in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Sunday afternoon at Edwards Stadium.
Bradley knocked off two teams ranked among the nation's top three at the time of the game - #1 Connecticut and #3 Northwestern - on the road during the regular season, but the Braves could not muster the same magic Sunday against a Cal squad that was ranked No. 1 nationally during the regular season.
The Golden Bears started the scoring in the 20th minute when Sundly took a feed from Seth Casiple at the top of the penalty area, made a move to his left and sent a missle past Braves goalkeeper Brian Billings at 19:14. Cal, which outshot its visitors 13-5 in the first half, pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 35th minute when Steve Birnbaum took a back pass from Sundly and dribbled from near midfield before unleashing a 30-yard laser for his 10th goal of the year at 34:14.
Bradley got right back into the game to start the second half, however, when Christian Okeke worked his way down to the left endline, then sent a centering pass in front to Wojciech Wojcik, who one-timed his shot past Cal keeper Alex Mangels at 46:20. Wojcik, who scored two goals and an assist in Thursday's 3-2, overtime win at Northwestern in the first round, ended the season as Bradley's total scoring leader with 26 points on six goals and 14 assists. He will have to wait until the 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship comes to an end to see if he shares the national lead for assists, a spot he currently holds with Evansville's Faik Hajderovic.
The Braves gained the momentum with the Wojcik goal and kept up the pressure to start the second half, but the tide turned on a no-call in the 57th minute. Bradley defender Grant Bell was taken down from behind and stripped of possession in the final third of the Cal offensive end. The Bears quickly took advantage when Sundly re-directed a Connor Hallisey shot from the left flank for his eighth goal of the year at 56:28.
Both teams had some near misses in the final 30 minutes, but Cal rode the 2-goal cushion to the finish and advances to a Dec. 1 third-round game versus the Coastal Carolina-Charlotte winner.
The Bradley senior class became the first group in the program's 28-year history to play in three NCAA Tournaments, following the 2010 MVC Tournament championship and an at-large appearance in 2011 that also ended in the second round.