Cal women’s soccer falls to Oregon State in game littered with fouls

Alex Turney/Staff

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In a knockdown, drag-out of a match, physicality made all the difference. The bare-knuckled game between Cal women’s soccer and Oregon State accrued 21 total fouls, one of which proved to be the fatal blow for the Bears.

In the 55th minute, the Cal defense committed a foul just outside the 18-yard box. The Beavers’ senior captain Jacy Drobney sent the resulting free kick rocketing low to the far post, past Cal goalkeeper Emily Kruger and into the net. The goal put Oregon State up 1-0 and put the Bears on the ropes for the rest of the match. Cal was unable to equalize, and Drobney’s knockout shot gave the Beavers a shutout over the Bears.

“We are all pretty bitter and upset about it,” said Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick. “We know we are capable of finishing better.”

Friday evening’s game in Corvallis, Ore., was the first of No. 12 Cal’s five-game road run to close out the regular season. Before the faceoff with the Beavers (5-9-2, 3-3-1 Pac 12), the Bears were undaunted by the prospect of playing a lengthy stretch of crucial conference games away from home. Cal (9-2-5, 2-2-3 in the Pac 12) remained undefeated on the road heading into Beaver nation, but Friday’s loss snapped that streak. The Bears will look to rebound and get back on track Monday when they face Oregon (3-9-3, 1-5-1 in the Pac 12).

The Bears ventured up to Corvallis after narrowly nabbing a tie in their last game — a Senior Day faceoff against Colorado. The Bears had gone down 1-0 in the 67th minute, and a nail-biter ensued until senior defender Emi Lawson came through in the clutch with movie-worthy heroics to score the equalizer with four seconds remaining in regulation. The game remained tied through overtime, giving Cal its fifth tie of the season.

Despite the relief of the tie, the Bears again emerged with a less-than-ideal outcome. The loss to Oregon State continued the pattern of substandard results for the Bears, who have accumulated five draws and now one loss to lesser-ranked teams.

While the Bears have not had a disappointing season, they have failed to live up to rank, reputation and expectations many times this season. The squad’s No. 12 ranking will likely drop after the loss to the Beavers, and despite being one of only three Pac-12 teams ranked in the nation’s top 25, Cal sits behind eight teams in the conference standings.

“We have to get offensive chances and go on goal to win games, and we haven’t been getting those chances,” said Fitzpatrick, who led the Bears in shots Friday. “We were pretty shaken up after the game, but I think it is going to help us come back even stronger against Oregon.”

The situation is not as bleak as it may seem, however, as the Bears remain one of the strongest teams in the nation defensively. Cal has suffered only three shutouts this season, and has a mere two losses so far — one of which was to No. 2 UCLA. Additionally, many of the teams’ struggles have occurred within the confines of the highly competitive Pac-12 conference, in which only two teams have given up fewer losses than the Bears.

“(The loss) had us move to ninth in the conference, but it gives us a chance to have a fresh start and come back with a good win,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel like sometimes a bad loss helps a team get back on track.”

With a record riddled with ties and a disappointing loss to Oregon State, the Bears are at a crossroads. The squad must generate offense and tally multiple wins over the course of the last four away games of conference play if it hopes to have a chance at the Pac-12 Championship and good positioning for the NCAA Tournament. Cal must prove through its play that it is one of the best teams in the nation. Ties will no longer suffice, and the team cannot afford to be on the losing side of another upset.

“The team definitely still believes in winning the title of the Pac-12, and we are doing everything we can to make it possible,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think that it is in our reach, and it is going to come down to coming out with wins and really paying attention to tactics.”

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