Despite a 0-0 draw against No. 3 UCLA on Friday afternoon at Edwards Stadium, Cal women’s soccer team might have played their best game of the season.
Although the Bears failed to snap their goal drought against the Bruins, a tie against one of a top-5 team can be momentous for the team as it delves deeper into conference play.
After coming off a poor performance last weekend at Washington State, Cal (8-3-2) had an array of concerns from providing goals without star striker Katie Benz to shoring up the defensive unit. Not all concerns were answered against UCLA (10-0-2), but it was clear that the Bears have made significant progress over the week.
Cal’s offense came out more aggressive and energetic than the previous matches, and it put the Bruins defense — which allowed a total of four goals the entire season– on edge for most of the 110 minutes played. In the 50th and 89th minute, midfielder Taylor Comeau and forward Lauren Battung had the best chances for the Bears when they both darted past UCLA’s defensive line before being stopped at the last minute.
While the new-look offense impressed, the most improved award had to go to Cal’s defense. Adhering to Bears’ coach Neil McGuire’s expectation of a disciplined defense after giving up six goals in the last three contests, Cal gave the Bruins offense little breathing room nearby the penalty box. Although there were several messy clearances and desperate last-minute tackles by the Bears, the defense held their poise and boxed out the opposition from scoring.
In hopes of riding the important tie against UCLA, Cal will play USC (3-10) on Sunday at 1 p.m.