No. 25 Cal women’s soccer faces tough weekend vs. Texas and Long Beach State

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Four games and three wins — the No. 25 Cal women’s soccer team (3-1) has had a pretty good start to the season as it returns home for this weekend’s games against Texas (4-0) and Long Beach State (2-1-1).

Despite its first loss last Friday against San Francisco, Cal rebounded the following Sunday to beat UC Davis 2-0, completing its first shutout of the season. Senior keeper Emily Boyd made four saves and continues to lead the program in clean sheets as she claimed her 27th against the Aggies.

Texas has four wins so far this season, but the team has yet to play a game outside of the Lone Star State. The Longhorns have a well-rounded offense, with five different players scoring 7 combined goals. Junior Katie Glenn leads the team with 11 shots, closely followed by freshman Haley Berg, who has 10 shots.

Last season, the Bears bested the Longhorns 1-0 at Mike A. Meyers Stadium, with redshirt senior Ifeoma Onumonu scoring the only goal. It was in this game that Boyd completed her 20th shutout, tying for fourth place all-time in career shutouts. Boyd is familiar with most of the Texas offense, and that knowledge will aid in the pursuit of another shutout.

The Bears haven’t faced Long Beach State since 2011, when Cal won 2-0 away from home.

“I think that they’re pretty good teams,” Boyd said. “They have good records, and we’ve played Texas before, and they’re very competitive. So I’m excited to play a good competitive team to keep our team energy up, because playing great teams makes us only greater.”

On the other side, Long Beach State’s junior keeper Imani McDonald has made 15 saves so far this season, which may put Cal on edge. While the Bears have outshot the 49ers, 60 to 49, Texas has the most shots of the three with 68.

“I think that if we play at our 100 percent, then we can beat any team,” Boyd said. “I think if we just come in with confidence and know that this is going to be a tough battle that we can beat anybody.”

On paper, both teams seem evenly matched against Cal. There is only one determinant for one team to triumph over another: goals. The Bears haven’t faced many challenges they can’t handle on defense, which is a good sign for a developing team. After a strong defense is in place, the coaches must turn to the offense and work to guarantee goals in every game.

Sophomore Abi Kim, the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, is Cal’s point player on offense. With 13 shots and 3 goals so far this season, she is the person who her teammates look for to generate offense. Redshirt senior Kelly Fitzgerald has also been impressive on offense, with seven shots and 1 goal.

“Last weekend we had a good turn in our offense,” Boyd said. “I think that if our offense is successful then our team will be successful, because our defense has done a pretty great job holding teams down.”

Both games this weekend are doubleheaders with the men’s soccer team, so a high turnout is likely at Edwards Stadium. The Bears are in a good position heading into the weekend, and as long as they can capitalize on their opportunities, two wins this weekend seems well within their reach.

Sophie Durham covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].

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