No. 13 Cal women’s soccer prepares for Cal Poly

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Ariel Hayat/File

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A battle of Northern versus Southern California will take place this Sunday, as the red hot No. 13 Cal women’s soccer team will finish up a two game road trip against Cal Poly.

The Mustangs, who are in the middle of a four game homestand at Alex G. Spanos stadium, will welcome both the Bears (5-1-1) and Dayton this weekend and hope to improve on their 1-1 home record. While Cal Poly holds a pedestrian record of 3-2-2, its improvement on offense has led the team to two straight victories against Fresno and San Jose State.

In the first game of Cal Poly’s winning streak, the Mustangs took full advantage of playing a struggling Fresno State team (1-0-6) and handed the Bulldogs their sixth loss of the season. Four different players, including the Mustangs’ top scorer this season — freshman Caitlyn Kreutz — got involved in the action and scored against the Bulldogs, for a final score of 4-0.

The following week, the Mustangs capitalized yet again on playing a lackluster team. Cal Poly beat San Jose State (2-3-2) with a final score of 2-1, with goals by senior forward Elise Krieghoff and sophomore midfielder Emily Hansen.

But while picking up wins against Fresno and San Jose State is one thing, the Mustangs are going to have to prove that they can make those same shots count against one of the better teams in the country when they play Cal.

Cal Poly has lost both of its games against top-ranked teams this season, losing to No. 1 Virginia by a score of 2-0, and dropping its home opener, 1-0, to No. 6 Stanford. The No. 13 Bears hope to continue the Mustangs’ losing streak

Little has been going wrong for the Bears, who have won three in a row and five of their past six. Cal has been on a month-long tear after initially losing its season opener against BYU. This is in part because of the Bears’ stellar offense, which has had several key contributors this season.

Junior forward Arielle Ship’s offense has been one of the main factors behind Cal’s success, leading the Bears with 16 points and seven goals in seven games this season. The Bears have also depended on senior forward Celeste Boureille — who is Cal’s second-leading scorer behind Ship, with three goals — and senior forward Ifeoma Onumonu, who leads the team with five assists.

If Cal Poly wants to top the Bears, they will have to be able to go through Cal’s sophomore keeper Emily Boyd. This is easier said than done, as Boyd, who was named the Pac-12’s goalkeeper of the week, has recorded clean sheets in each of her last two games.

This Sunday’s game against a top-ranked team will give the Mustangs the perfect opportunity to show their home fans whether they are contenders or pretenders. Cal, on the other hand, will be looking to do what Cal Poly has done in its past two games and take a win against a team that, on paper, should be an easy matchup.

Chris Tril covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].