Cal women’s soccer goalkeeper Emily Boyd’s voice rang through Edwards Stadium, filled with an urgent frustration as she ordered her defensive unit to keep its shape. The directive came after Arizona State, with three players on the attack, had broken through nearly six Bears to get a shot off, which, luckily for Cal, went wide. That moment, though, was emblematic of the Bears’ defensive woes throughout their double-overtime game against the Sun Devils that resulted in their first tie of the season, 1-1.
No. 11 Cal’s (8-1-1, 1-0-1 Pac-12) first half against Arizona State was perhaps the most disheveled one that it has had all season. The Bears were unable to string together passes, seemingly jarred by the physicality of a Sun Devils team that was determined to win every 50/50 ball. Cal, normally poised and decisive in the center, often looked out of position — resulting in forced balls forward that saw it lose possession.
Perhaps it was this discombobulated first half that led the Bears to find a groove and to sophomore forward Abi Kim’s goal in a little over two minutes into the second half. The goal came after senior defender Haley Lukas lobbed the ball over the top and Kim ran onto it, breaking away from the Sun Devils defense and finishing in the back of the net.
But the lead was not to last. A string of defensive lapses led to an Arizona State goal in the 70th minute, when senior defender Madison Stark took a shot from close range after the ball had jumped around inside the 18-yard box without being cleared.
The Bears were unable to recover from the goal, and despite another 40 minutes of play, the game ended in a 1-1 tie. Cal once again outshot its opponent (23-10), with Boyd only being forced to make a single save.
With a conference record of one win and one tie, the Bears will be looking for improvement as they gear up to play Arizona at home Sunday. The Wildcats’ record provides little information about their skill level — with lapses and losses against schools such as Florida Gulf Coast and UCF, their wins against contentious opponents appear less impressive.
What’s certain, though, is that Arizona equals Cal in its offensive firepower. The Wildcats average 15.3 shots per game, with nearly half of those on frame — and eight players have contributed to the team’s 10 total goals. The Bears’ defense should be particularly aware of sophomore defender Samantha Falasco, who plays nearly every minute for Arizona and likes to come into the attack — netting two goals in two of the Wildcat’s wins.
The Bears, who seemed affected by the physicality of Arizona State, should also be aware of what’s coming against Arizona, a team that committed 60 fouls in eight games. The Wildcats are feisty on defense, and Cal, which likes to play a calm game, must find a sense of physical urgency if it is to improve its Pac-12 record this Sunday.
Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]