Cal women’s soccer splits results against Washington, Washington State

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Tim Hyon/File

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After a disappointing 1-0 loss to the Huskies to open up a two-game road trip, the No. 14 Cal women’s soccer team (12-4-2) was able to pull off a 1-0 victory of its own by defeating No. 25 Washington State. By spoiling Senior Day for four graduating Wildcats, the Bears were able to split the weekend series in Washington before coming home for their last regular-season homestand.

Washington (11-3-2)  pencilled in redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Shimer to make her first career start for the Huskies on Friday, her third career appearance. Cal was looking to capitalize on the novice, but Shimer showed no nerves in the box and made five saves in what would also be her first career shutout.

The Bears had their opportunities to score but were not able to capitalize on any of them. Senior midfielder Samantha Witteman was unable to give Cal the lead when her shot hit off the left post in the 43rd minute in a crucial scoring opportunity. In the second half, senior forward Celeste Boureille was also unable to cause any damage, as her shot from inside the goal area was stopped promptly by a diving Shimer.

While the offense was not getting it done, Cal’s defense held its own for the majority of the match. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Boyd recorded six saves in the game, but only one of them came in the second half.

The only blemish on Boyd’s near-perfect game came with less than four minutes on the clock. With the game seemingly heading into overtime, a corner kick from Washington defender Havana McElvaine was centered by sophomore forward Rachel Wheeler to sophomore forward Kimberly Keever. Keever played Wheeler’s header perfectly, sailing the ball just to the right of a diving Boyd for the only goal of the game.

The Bears had to wake up and smell the coffee after the disappointing loss before heading East to take on Washington State.

The Cougars (11-5-0) were also recouping from a loss Thursday, when the team was unable to hold off No. 4 Stanford and lost, 2-1, in double overtime. Washington State did not want to let its seniors’ last regular season home game result in another loss.

Early on, it seemed as though Cal had the early advantage against Washington State, establishing itself in Wildcat territory. As the half progressed, however, control of the ball evened out, and both teams seemed equally matched.

Junior forward Arielle Ship missed two scoring opportunities early in the first half, shooting a pass from sophomore forward Heather Walleigh wide right in the 21st minute. Less than a minute later, the Bears’ leading scorer would yet again be denied a goal, as Washington State redshirt freshman goalkeeper Ella Dederick swooped in with the save.

The best scoring opportunity for the Cougars came in the 47th minute, when redshirt junior Susie White was tackled by Cal sophomore Annia Mejia inside the penalty box, resulting in a penalty kick. Despite Boyd diving to her right at the sound of the kick, White’s strike flew several feet above the goal, and the game remained scoreless.

The Bears struck back less than 10 minutes later. In the 56th minute, Ship angled in a pass to an open Karly Graf. The senior defender took the ball to the right corner of the penalty box, where she booted a perfectly placed goal to the top right corner of the Cougars’ net for the only goal of the game.

Although the Bears were not able to come away with the sweep, they took one of two against two of the tougher teams in the Pac-12, which will serve as motivation to continue playing hard during the last three games of the regular season.

Chris Tril covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @CTril.