Unbeaten Cal women’s soccer team tops UC Davis and Harvard

Kore Chan/Staff

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The No. 18 Cal women’s soccer team emerged from another nonconference weekend with a pair of victories.

Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of UC Davis and Friday’s 2-1 topping of Harvard extended the Bears’ unbeaten streak. Cal now boasts a 5-0-1 overall record after the University of San Francisco tournament. The two weekend matchups provided the Bears the opportunity to not only bolster their record but also cement the always-important team chemistry that the team is working to build.

The squad occasionally struggles to maintain an elevated level of play when facing weaker opponents, one aspect it hopes to improve. Cal wants to be the team dictating the pace of the game, rather than reacting to the style of play established by its opponents.

“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,” said senior goalkeeper Emily Kruger before the start of the tournament.

The Bears took a step in the right direction in Friday’s matchup against Harvard. Cal handed the Crimson a loss in its opening game with a 2-1 final score. Sophomore Ifeoma Onumonu welcomed Harvard to the season by firing a shot from the top of the box less than three minutes after the opening whistle. The 1-0 score stood into the second half, when senior Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick launched a ball down the center of the field. Sophomore Celeste Boureille bested two Crimson defenders before chipping it over Harvard goalkeeper Bethany Kanten in the 68th minute. Unwilling to accept a shutout in its first game of the season, the Crimson returned fire with a goal in the 78th minute to bring the final score to 2-1 in favor of the Bears.

“We didn’t know anything about Harvard, but we played very well against them,” Onumonu said. “The goal was a bit of a disappointment because we had hoped for the shutout.”

Following the win over Harvard, Cal sought to extend its unbeaten season against UC Davis. Unlike the case in the fast-paced tilt with the Crimson, the Bears distinctly dominated the matchup against the Aggies. Cal had 14 shots on goal in the first half, while allowing the Aggies a mere three. Thirty minutes into the game, senior Mekenna DeBack sent in a cross that found sophomore Samantha Witteman’s head to give the Bears their first goal of the game.

The shootout continued into the second half. In the 48th minute, Onumonu scored her fifth goal in six games, followed soon after by a goal by Fitzpatrick scarcely two minutes later. In the 56th minute, senior Rachel Mercik put the cherry on top with the Bear’s fourth and final goal of the game.

“I think we definitely stepped it up this weekend,” said Onumonu. “We showed that we have the passion that we were missing last weekend.”

The two victories have contributed to the Bears’ positive momentum, which can only help when the Bears face perennially strong Santa Clara on Sept. 19.

Taylor Brink covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected]