The Cal women’s soccer team seems to have recovered from its early preseason setbacks. After two close losses last week, the Bears rebounded this weekend with a 4-1 victory over Cal Poly on Friday, followed by a 3-0 shutout of the University of San Francisco on Sunday.
Cal’s recovery came to fruition in the second half of Friday’s game, as the Bears buried three goals in the second half to reenergize the offense after suffering the disappointments of the week before.
The offensive resurgence continued through the weekend. The Bears (4-2-0) dominated the matchup against the Dons (2-2-2). Cal earned nine corners and logged 17 shots while holding San Francisco to only one shot in the game.
“We came into the weekend after two losses last week, and we knew we needed to get the job done,” forward Grace Leer said. “We played well collectively, and we could have finished off more chances, but we got the result we wanted.”
The Bears gained the lead in the 22nd minute of the game when midfielder Betsy Hassett slotted the ball between two San Francisco defenders to reach freshman forward Ifeoma Onumonu. Onumonu then tapped it past the goalkeeper and into the net to give Cal the 1-0 lead.
Despite the vulnerability of a 1-0 scoreboard, the Bears never really seemed to be in any danger. The Dons struggled to generate solid offensive efforts as the Bears’ defense stifled those efforts. With their efforts contained to the outside lines, the Dons earned only one shot on goal and no corner kicks.
“Our defense was very strong and we got our first home shutout,” Leer said. “We are so glad we were able to prove that we can not only beat but also shut out teams.”
On the other end of the field, the Bears controlled possession and had several goal-scoring chances. Hassett got her second assist of the game in the 68th minute when she fed the ball through to Leer at the top of the box. Leer quickly sent a left-footed rocket past Schiffel’s outstretched fingertips into the top right corner of the frame for her fourth goal of the season.
“I got the ball at the top of the box, took a touch, and shot,” Leer said. “I knew I had to get it high and away, and I found the top corner.”
The Bears solidified the victory in the 73rd minute when Leer received a throw-in down the right line and crossed the ball into the box. Junior Mekenna DeBack was there to receive it. De Back headed the ball into the back right of the net as the Cal offense beat Schiffel for the third time.
“(Leer) played the perfect cross,” DeBack said. “I just had to get my head on it and keep it low.”
DeBack’s goal was the final of the match, resulting in a 3-0 win for the Bears and the first home shutout for Cal goalkeeper Emily Kruger.
“The shutout pumps us up,” DeBack said. “We had something to show and nothing to lose coming off two losses. This win gets us ready for the next few games.”