Cal women’s soccer falls to No. 1 Stanford, 1-0

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Phillip Downey/File

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All it took was five seconds. One second for senior Haley Lukas to commit to a tackle, three seconds for Stanford freshman Madison Haley to turn the other way and slip the ball between Cal’s defense to fellow Cardinal freshman Catarina Macario and one second for Macario to hit the ball far post and into the back of the net. In five seconds, the Cal women’s soccer team (13-5-1, 6-4-1) had given No. 1 Stanford (18-1, 11-0) an inch of space, and the Cardinal took advantage of it, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 loss for the Bears in their last game of regular season.

The Bears began the game fast and aggressive, trying to keep Stanford from moving or turning with the ball. The Cardinal, however, easily passed and weaved its way through the midfield and got its first shot off in the second minute. Stanford’s offense was well-coordinated and quick, and with six different players having six or more goals throughout the season, Cal’s defense was under attack from every angle. The Cardinal pushed most of its team forward, overwhelming and overworking the Bears.

The goal came just before halftime — unsurprising, yet at the same time, startling. Cal had only a few minutes left before a break and had managed to hold Stanford at bay so far. But with its constant pressure, a Cardinal goal seemed inevitable. The Bears continued to fight hard to finish the half, but they welcomed halftime as a chance to take a much-needed breather.

The battle continued for Cal in the second half. While it would have been understandable to see the Bears lose some energy, they did the opposite. Already having proven to be a second-half team many times throughout this season, Cal stepped up the intensity and was more confident with the ball than before.

With this new confidence, the Bears were able to maintain possession for longer, and they looked as if they could pull out a goal and force the game into overtime. Most notably, for a few minutes in the last 10 minutes of the second half, Cal took over the possession and dominated, stringing together passes and moving forward as it forced Stanford to drop back.

The Bears were able to get off four shots during the game (two in each half), but despite their best efforts, they were not able to equalize before the end of the game and ended their regular season on a three-game losing streak.

Senior goalkeeper Emily Boyd deserves most of the credit for keeping this game low-scoring. She was called upon to make a career-high 14 saves, and she shattered the program record of 279 in a season — which was previously held by 2013 graduate Emily Kruger — and now holds 290 saves in her four seasons at Berkeley.

While the regular season may have ended on a somber note, the first round of the NCAA tournament is fast approaching. Cal will find out its first opponent at the selection show Monday, and the first rounds will be played next weekend. The perseverance and determination that the Bears displayed against Stanford should be intimidating to any team they face, and it should carry them far into the tournament.

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

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