Acosta Plays Sweet Music, Whether It Be Piano or Soccer
Oct. 1, 2003
Berkeley, Calif. -
By Jonathan Palay
It all started August 30 against Notre Dame. Cal was struggling through early season jitters, which led to a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of soccer powerhouse Indiana the night before. Now they faced a dangerous Fighting Irish team, which also had yet to score on the young season. With three scoreless halves in the books, something needed to happen for the Bears.
That something came in the form of junior forward Carl Acosta. Acosta broke free from blanket defensive coverage to head the first goal of the season into the net for the Bears. Ever since, when Cal has needed a goal, they know where to look.
'Ever since I scored the first goal against Notre Dame, I have seen the ball a lot more,' said the five-foot, four-inch, and 130-pound Acosta. 'I owe every goal I've gotten to the team.'
The season may be a marathon, but Acosta has sprinted out of the gates on his way to six goals in eight games, already two goals away from his career high of eight goals a year ago.
'I attribute it to having more confidence and being healthy,' said Acosta. 'I have been staying on the field a lot longer than last year. I have a lot more time so I don't try to cram everything into a short period.'
That is the life of a substitute - a life Acosta was familiar with last season, as he only started three games. When head coach Kevin Grimes called his number for a fifteen-minute stint, try as he might to relax and play his game, it could be difficult.
Acosta worries less about making his impact now and lets the game come to him. Believe it or not, music has been a big part of teaching him tempo on the field.
'I've played piano all my life and just started playing the guitar a little while ago,' Acosta explains. 'It (music) can teach you discipline and concentration. The mental aspect of the game is huge.'
The results have been spectacular at times. For instance, against Cal State Fullerton, Acosta scored twice in a 3-1 Cal victory. His first (16th minute) and second (90th minute) goals were sandwiched by one of the most dazzling shots taken by any Bear this season. He received the ball, took a dribble to his right and sent a booming right-footed shot from well outside the 18-yard box. The shot swerved past the outstretched hand of the Fullerton keeper, only to be denied by every attackers worst inanimate enemy - the crossbar. The ball torpedoed toward the ground only to be cleared off the line by the Fullerton defense. Edwards Stadium reverberated with 'oohs' and 'ahhs'.
'I was frustrated that the ball didn't go in,' said Acosta. 'But at the same time, hitting a shot like that gives you a wave of confidence.'
Enough confidence to score the game-sealing goal, which occurred in timely fashion, as Fullerton was pressing for an equalizer. Acosta was named Diadora Classic MVP the next weekend for his goal against San Francisco and his five shots in the tournament won by Cal. So how is he doing it?
'College soccer is run and gun,' Acosta explains. 'It's where big, strong, fast equals better, which doesn't exactly suit my size. This summer I worked hard to get out of that mentality and play with more finesse.'
Finesse is one thing, but Acosta is going up against players that more closely resemble the six-foot, three-inch, 178-pound Cal defender, Steve Purdy, than himself.
'Every team has big guys that are gonna win nine out of ten headers over me and muscle me off the ball, so I can't be intimidated,' Acosta contends. 'It's not an issue in my head. I have a quick first step to my advantage and a lot of my goals come right off of that.'
Touch. Fire. Goal.
Not as simple as Acosta might have you believe, but just as simple as he makes it look.
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