In a game between two evenly matched teams, there are only a few factors that will determine who walks away as the winner. One is, obviously, goals. Another is time of possession. A third, strong defense, seems almost silly to say out loud; there’s a reason the saying “defense wins championships” exists. A fourth, however, is more subjective — it’s how much heart a team puts into the game. Essentially, who fights harder for the win and who wants it more.
Saturday night, the Cal women’s soccer team dominated in all of these aspects. The Bears faced off against Washington and, despite having very similar records, snapped the Huskies’ five-game winning streak with a decisive 1-0 win to win their first conference match of the season.
Cal opened its shooting in the ninth minute, when sophomore Abi Kim fired a shot that was easily stopped by Washington keeper and redshirt senior Sarah Shimer. The ball was cleared out of the box only to be returned a few seconds later by senior Guro Bergsvand, who fired a rocket off the rebound and forced Shimer off her line to make the save.
As it took shot after shot against Washington, Cal maintained control of the game and kept the Huskies on their toes. In the 20th minute, senior Indigo Gibson tested Shimer again and launched a free-kick shot from outside the box, which Shimer was just able to knock out of bounds.
That’s not to say that the Huskies didn’t have any opportunities. In the 17th minute, freshman Sianna Siemonsma played a low cross in front of the Bears’ goal, beating Cal keeper senior Emily Boyd, and Washington senior Kimberly Keever was just a second too late to tap the ball into an empty net.
While there were many opportunities on both sides throughout the first half, the Bears easily maintained the majority of the possession. After halftime, however, the power shifted; the Huskies started the second half with more fire than the first and began to challenge Cal on all sides of the ball.
With Washington was working noticeably harder than they had in the first half, the Bears had to step up their game as well. Kim was a constant presence on offense, despite only having two shots. She drew defenders away from the play and opened up space for her teammates to take advantage of, which allowed six other players to get off shots.
Cal broke the scoreless tie in the 62nd minute and took the lead thanks to redshirt sophomore Anja Koehler. Freshman Luca Deza played a beautiful cross into the box from the right corner and Koehler connected with it on the back post and volleyed it past the line.
The Huskies and the Bears continued to battle for the remainder of the game, but even as Washington picked up the intensity, it couldn’t break through Cal’s defense. The Huskies had a literal last second shot from the edge of the box, but it flew wide just as the buzzer went off.
Cal played with intensity, passion, and a hunger to score. It outshot Washington 10-6, with nine of its shots on goal to the Huskies’ one. Beyond pure skill and athleticism, it is this type of attitude that wins games, and as the Bears delve deeper into their conference games, they need to hold onto it.
Sophie Durham covers women’s soccer. Contact her at