BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Wednesday, Cal State Bakersfield (CSUB) hosts a Big West playoff game for the first time.
The Roadrunners have had to conquer a long road the past two years. Nearly every Division 1 conference held their soccer season in the spring after last fall’s was canceled. That is, except for the Big West. They just canceled.
Head coach Richie Grant knew it would affect this season.
“[Our players] were going to need seven or eight games to just get reacclimated with playing competitive matches again,” Grant said.
As newcomers to the Big West, CSUB was slated in a preseason coaches’ poll to finish last among the conference’s 10 teams—and early in the season, that appeared to be a sound prediction. The team dropped six of its first nine games.
“We were very much finding ourselves as a program and as a league,” Grant said. “All of our non-conference games were a challenge to get ready for the Big West.”
But then, this team full of transfers and transplants started to turn it around. Under the leadership of grad transfers like Eric Whelan, the Roadrunners ripped off wins, rising to fourth in the conference, and securing a playoff spot.
“It took a while for it to gel, but it felt like from the start that we had something good,” Whelan said. “There was certainly good intent, and we’ve figured it out from there.”
All of it will culminate on Wednesday night, when the fourth-ranked Roadrunners host the fifth-ranked U.C. Davis Aggies.
“It was always our goal to get a home game, and we’re far from finished,” midfielder Niklas Roessler said.
Wednesday’s game starts at 6 p.m. at CSUB’s Main Soccer Field.