There’s nothing more exciting than a penalty kick shootout in soccer, where a shot can either make or break you. For the No. 24 Cal women’s soccer team it was the latter, as it fell in penalties last weekend to Pepperdine.
Pepperdine redshirt senior Rylee Baisden got past one of the country’s best goalies in Emily Boyd to secure a 3-2 shootout win. The Bears walked off the field with the Waves celebrating on the opposing side, ending the season in a way they never expected.
“We were very proud of the players throughout the game for their effort, especially in the second half and both overtimes,” said Cal head coach Neil McGuire. “Pepperdine was a very good team and provided a very stiff test.”
The Waves entered the game aggressively, instantly sending a message to the Bears that they had a tough challenge on their hands. It only took six minutes for Pepperdine to score, coming off a 40-yard free kick from Baisden. Sophomore Danielle Thomas beat a defender to get in the perfect position, heading in the free kick past Boyd to give her team the 1-0 lead.
The Bears came close to tying the score in the 25th minute off a corner kick from redshirt junior Kelly Fitzgerald. Freshman forward Abigail Kim had a look but was unable to score, kicking the ball to the hands of Pepperdine goalie Hannah Seabert.
The ball fell into the feet of freshman Mia Corbin in the 31st minute, who shot the ball with the goalie on the ground. But it was sophomore Michelle Maemone who put herself in the position to make the uncharacteristic save. With her goalie recovering, Maemone intelligently protected both the net and her team’s 1-0 lead.
Pepperdine continued displaying its tough defense the rest of the first half, taking the game into halftime still up by one.
The Bears entered the second half knowing their season would end if they failed to score. And there was no better person to step up then senior Arielle Ship, the team’s leading goal scorer. Still, she couldn’t do it without the help of her teammates.
It was redshirt senior Ifeoma Onumonu who ran down the left sideline, beat a defender and placed the ball in just the right spot for Ship. Ship followed by scoring in the 68th minute off a sliding touch on the ball.
The game eventually went to penalties after both teams failed to score in double overtime. The pressure was now on both teams, as only one team would continue to the second round of the NCAA tournament. All eyes fell onto both opposing goalies, Boyd and Seabert, to see who would make that one crucial save to secure the win.
The score was all tied up at 2-2 after four rounds of penalties, sending the match into the final round.
Each team had just one shot left. Corbin walked into an unfamiliar position, looking to give the Bears a chance to advance to the second round of playoffs. But the pressure was just too much to handle, and she kicked the ball high and missed.
Pepperdine responded by taking advantage of the opportunity. The Waves sent the Bears home and advanced to the next round after Baisden got the ball past Boyd by kicking it to the upper left corner.
Despite the loss, the Bears walked off the field with their heads high, proud of everything they had accomplished this season.
“Every player brought their best this season,” McGuire said. “The attitude and work ethic from the team was as good as we have seen, and their chemistry was a pleasure to see.”
Alex Quintana covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected]