Cal women’s soccer is preparing for a season that has the potential to top its previous one, and with six seniors now out of the picture, the Bears are eager to welcome their 10 incoming freshmen to the program.
Cal went 13-6-1 last season, falling 2-1 to Santa Clara in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. The game was somewhat uncharacteristic for the Bears, who had never allowed more than one goal in a game throughout the rest of the season and who had beaten the Broncos early in the season.
Despite the abrupt ending to the season, the Bears had major wins. But they are hungry for more.
The 10 incoming freshmen will prove to be significant assets for the team for the next four years. Four incoming freshmen — Abena Aidoo, Sydney Collins, Paige Metayer and Emma Treasure — signed national letters of intent in February, and another six players will join the team.
The group of newest Bears includes one goalkeeper, three midfielders, three defenders and three utility players.
The young group has yet to experience the next level of soccer — playing collegiately — but a few of the players won’t have to alter their coaching style expectations that much. Defenders Devin Lozano and Molly Neach from Danville, CA played club soccer for Mustang 00 under Cal head coach Neil McGuire. Their familiarity with McGuire will surely help make their transition as seamless as possible.
The rest of the new freshmen come to Berkeley having built up significant soccer resumes, from leading their club teams to rank among the best in the nation to winning league titles with their high school squads.
Both midfielder Aidoo and defender Collins even have some international experience. Aidoo went to camp for both the U17 and U20 Ghanaian women’s national teams and has been a part of the U.S. Olympic Development Program for several years. Collins, on the other hand, went to the U17 United States women’s national team camp.
And while speed is an inherent necessity of soccer, several of the freshmen have years of running experience outside of soccer, winning titles as members of their schools’ track and field teams.
Neach, in particular, was a three-time all-league selection in track and ranked among her school’s all time fastest in the 400-, 800- and 1600-meter events. Speed is always an advantage and adding such quick players to the team will surely aid the Bears.
With the class of 2018’s graduation now long in the past, the squad must fill the shoes of standouts goalkeeper Emily Boyd and defender Indigo Gibson — who were drafted to the National Women’s Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars. The team is also adapting to the absence of defender Haley Lukas, midfielders Guro Bergsvand and Kelly Fitzgerald and forward/defender Heather Walleigh. Each recent graduate had a major impact on the team, as each of them started in 70 percent or more of the team’s 20 games.
While these recent graduates’ presence on the field unquestionably aided the team’s performance last year, the 10 incoming freshmen are well-positioned to not only maintain the Bears’ standing but also advance the program in the coming years.
Surina Khurana covers beach volleyball. Contact her at [email protected].