Less than four minutes into the Cal women’s soccer team’s season finale, forward Celeste Boureille was in a spot few players have been this year: positioned to score against Stanford goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
Possessing what some pundits regard as the best defense in the country, the Cardinal has allowed only eight goals this season while leading the Pac-12 with 15 shutouts. And after a perfect dish from Kory Lamet in the fourth minute of play, Boureille was not about to let a rare offensive opportunity pass. With a quick finish into the right corner of the net, the junior forward gave the Bears a stunning 1-0 lead as a wave of undeniable elation hit Edwards Stadium.
But the celebration wouldn’t last long. Just two minutes later, the No. 3 Cardinal answered with a goal from Alex Doll off an assist from Taylor Uhl, tying up the match at one goal apiece. Though Cal would keep the score locked for the remainder of the half, the No. 22 Bears fell short in the second, resulting in a 3-2 loss to finish off their conference schedule.
With the defeat, Cal concludes their regular season with a 13-5-2 overall record and 5-4-2 record in the Pac-12 as they await their postseason fate. Meanwhile, the Cardinal remains nearly undefeated with a 17-1-2 overall record.
“I thought our team responded tremendously well to playing against an outstanding opponent in Stanford,” said head coach Neil McGuire to Cal Athletics. “They are a fantastic team, well coached by Coach Ratcliffe.”
While the Bears’ lead would last for only the briefest of moments, the match remained competitive through the first frame. In the first half, Cal registered four shots to the Cardinal’s six. Meanwhile, the Bears’ goalkeeper Emily Boyd kept pace with Campbell as each recorded two saves before the end of the half.
“To score the first goal was exciting,” McGuire said to Cal Athletics. “To give up one almost on the back of that was a little disappointing, but I think the players reacted well to make it 1-1 at halftime.”
That parity quickly unraveled in a series of disastrous events for the Bears in the second half. After a goal from Uhl off an assist from Lo’eau LaBonta, the Cardinal pulled into the lead in the 59th minute of play. Stanford then quickly tacked on another goal from a successful penalty kick by LaBonta, bringing the score to a 3-1 and marking LaBonta’s 11th goal of the season.
Though clearly dominant in remainder of the match — Stanford outshot Cal 13-5 in the second half — the Bears would make one last stand before the end of regulation. In the final two minutes of play, Boureille sent her second goal of the game sailing into the net with a last-second header. But as the clock ran out at Edwards Stadium, even Boureille’s late-game heroics wouldn’t be enough to overcome the deficit.
“This is a learning opportunity for us with the NCAA tournament coming up, and we’re excited about what lies ahead,” McGuire said to Cal Athletics.
Dani Jo Coony covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].