The Bears are heading across the bay for a pair of non-conference bouts this weekend.
The Cal women’s soccer team will open this weekend’s University of San Francisco Tournament facing untested Harvard. Today’s 4:30 kickoff will start the four-team tournament, in which the Bears will play the Crimson and UC Davis. The hosting Dons are not facing the Bears but are participating in the tournament.
For the 3-0-1 Bears, the opposition is unimportant. Rather, the squad hopes to continue to develop its own rhythm and chemistry on the pitch.
“Nothing that we did today in practice was really about Harvard or about that game,” said senior goalkeeper Emily Kruger. “It was about us.”
The Bears enter the weekend riding an undefeated streak, fresh off two home wins against Detroit and San Jose State. Despite the respective 2-1 and 3-0 victories, the Bears were not quite satisfied. The team is less focused on building up its record than it is on preparing for what is expected to be a brutally competitive conference season. The Pac-12 is perennially one of the most cutthroat conferences in the nation, and this year looks to be no different.
“I think the biggest thing for us coming out of this past weekend was not being able to raise our level to what we are capable of when the other team doesn’t push us there,” Kruger said. “I think we have a tendency to go into games like we did this past weekend and fail to really capitalize and instead allow this other team that isn’t as talented and cohesive as ours to hang with us. We need to not let that happen again.”
While the Bears enter the game hoping to push themselves to the next level, the Crimson enter without any level established at all. Cal heads into its third weekend of competition, whereas Harvard will open its season today.
The Bears are hoping that their head start on the season will be an advantage over the untried Crimson. The squad has had four games together to eliminate pre-season jitters and off-season cobwebs. It has also gained the momentum of a four-game undefeated streak.
However, Harvard may have an advantage in its anonymity. The Bears and the Crimson have never met, and without any record to reflect Harvard’s skill or strength, the Bears do not know what to expect from the upcoming matchup.
“We don’t know much about them,” Kruger said. “I don’t doubt their ability at all as a team, but I think that we will hopefully have the upper hand.”
Regardless of any surprises the Crimson may bring to today’s game, the Bears hope to be ready for anything. The squad’s primary preseason focus has been to play up to its own potential rather than adjusting to the competition’s style of play.
“That will definitely be a goal this weekend– to see if we can find it within ourselves to raise the pace of the game and the tactics of the game and make the ball move faster even if the other team isn’t pushing us to do it,” Kruger said.