In front of nearly 1,200 supporters at Edwards Stadium on Friday, Cal women’s soccer concluded its 2018 regular season campaign with a hard-fought 2-0 loss against No. 1 Stanford, one of only two unbeaten teams in Division I.
With the win, the Cardinal clinched the Pac-12 regular season championship and celebrated with the trophy on Goldman Field after the game. But despite the implications of this matchup, Cal’s senior day festivities primarily focused on the accomplishments of four seniors playing the final regular season game for each of them: forward Miranda Nild, goalkeeper Brooke Lisowski, and midfielders Anja Koehler and Emily Kasa.
“Playing against Stanford is always really tough,” Nild said. “We’ve had a rough season, so we wanted to end it with all of us fighting for each other … for pride. That was really important, and I think that’s what we did today.”
Cal’s senior class accrued 44 wins over four years and helped the Bears achieve three consecutive NCAA tournament berths. As for Nild, she plans to represent Thailand in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer, after helping the squad qualify for the tournament last spring.
On the pitch, the Cardinal exhibited the methodical, clean execution that makes them the best in the country, even without their leading goal scorer, sophomore Catarina Macario. Senior Jordan DiBiasi notched both goals for Stanford, with the first coming off an open look on goal in the 10th minute against redshirt freshman keeper Olivia Sekany.
After falling behind early, however, Cal created several opportunistic chances throughout the first half, the best of which came in the 34th minute from junior Abi Kim. Kim shook a defender on a breakaway by cutting the ball back on to her right foot before firing a shot that ricocheted off the far post and back into play.
Toward the end of the first half, Cal maintained its fast and frenetic pace, continually applying defensive pressure well into the opposition’s side of the field. But as time wore on, Stanford settled into an offensive rhythm by becoming increasingly methodical in possession, which did not allow Cal much time on the ball offensively.
In the 54th minute, DiBiasi found the back of the net again, this time depositing a line-drive shot at the far post and past the outstretched arms of Sekany from several yards outside the penalty area.
Cal could not muster any significant offensive push in order to cut the deficit. Near the 70th minute of play, a corner forced the Stanford keeper off her line, but no Cal player could make solid contact on a header for a score. At the end of 90 minutes, DiBiasi’s initial goal was enough to earn the Cardinal a win and the Pac-12 title.
For the Bears, a competitive performance was enough to end the Bears’ 2018 campaign on a positive note, despite the 2-0 scoreline. It remains to be seen if this is it for Cal’s quartet of seniors, but the distant future will inevitably be the primary focus in the coming weeks.
“I think today was definitely a growth … going into next year, as well,” Nild said. “This is the freshmen’s first time playing Stanford, so since we have so many, they’re going to realize that this is the bar, and you have to set it here. Hopefully, when I leave, they’ll keep that the bar.”
Max Mennemeier covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].