In the 87th minute of the Cal women’s soccer team’s match against Oregon State, Beavers forward Chelsea Buckland scored her second goal of the day, extending her squad’s lead to 3-0 and deliver the Bears one of their worst losses of the season.
After Cal’s dreadful performance on Sunday, nobody would have guessed that this was the same team that routed Oregon, 4-0, just two days before.
Within 48 hours, the Bears (15-3-2, 5-3-2 in the Pac-12) underwent a downward transformation that echoed the fictional tales of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. With only one week left in the season, Cal could not have picked a worse time to display its split personalities.
The Bears first showed their good colors against the Ducks at Pape Field in Eugene, Ore., as they took control of possession and attack behind the play of midfielder Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick. After tallying no goals during the season, Fitzpatrick singlehandedly carried Cal with a hat trick, a rare feat for a midfielder.
“She was active around the penalty box all game,” coach Neil McGuire said. “She always has been a good scoring threat, and we knew at some point she was going to score her first goal (of the season).”
Fitzpatrick could not replicate her goalscoring touch against the Beavers. In a match derailed by a downpour, Oregon State came out strong in the first half while the Bears couldn’t get much offense started.
In the 27th minute, Oregon State opened up the score when Buckland capitalized on a communication gaffe between goalkeeper Emily Kruger and the defensive unit. After Kruger saved midfielder Brittney Oljar’s shot, neither Kruger nor the defense cleared the ball. In midst of the confusion, Buckland took the ball and placed into the back of the net.
The poor defensive performance worsened in the 48th minute, when the Beavers scored their second goal on a penalty kick. With the lead doubled, the second goal made it near impossible for the deflated Bears squad to rebound.
For the remainder of the second half, the Bears couldn’t adjust to Oregon State’s defense and failed to start an offensive spark, frustrating the entire squad. In the last 10 minutes, the frustration boiled onto the pitch as defender Danielle Brunache and forward Miranda White was given a yellow card for her aggressive play.
“Oregon and Oregon State plays a completely different system tactically,” McGuire said. “It’s not easy to adjust to such a good team like Oregon State.”
With two weeks left before the NCAA tournament, Cal had hopes of hosting the first two rounds of the competition for the first time since 2000. The Bears needed two wins this weekend to even have a chance.
Now after the humiliating loss against Oregon State, their dreams as a tournament host are in now in tatters. With a near-invincible Stanford team scheduled for the last game of the season, the Bears are now worrying about if they can make the tournament.