It was only a matter of time until freshman forward Miranda Nild and junior forward Arielle Ship would find the back of the net, after both were initially denied by the posts in the first half of Cal’s match against against San Francisco on Friday. The duo eventually propelled the Cal women’s soccer team to victory in a 2-0 encounter that saw the program claim its sixth straight victory against its Bay Area neighbor.
Neither side could take control of the match early on in the first half. But as the first 45 minutes unfolded, the Bears began dictating the pace of the match. After initially hitting the right post in the 19th minute, Nild scored in the 30th minute off a through ball from Heather Walleigh. The goal was Nild’s first of the season, while Walleigh marked her first career start with her second assist of the year.
But Nild wasn’t the only Bear to rattle the posts, as Ship had been denied by the crossbar in the 21st minute. The forward, however, remained determined to score, and her diligence eventually paid off in the second half. Ship got on the scoreboard in the 77th minute, thanks to an assist from senior midfielder Samantha Witteman, who dribbled along the right flank and slipped a ball in front of the goal for Ship to capitalize on. The junior tallied her eighth goal of the season, and she leads the Pac-12 in goals scored.
Ship and Nild spearheaded a powerful offensive effort against the Dons, as the Bears tallied 20 shots over San Francisco’s six. Cal head coach Neil McGuire’s side even took more corner kicks than Dons, albeit by a slim 7-6 margin.
Nevertheless, his team’s ability to render the opposition’s set piece attempts futile is a testament to how successful Cal has been in resolving any threats in its defensive third this season. The Bears limited the Dons to only two shots on goal in the team’s second straight game.
Cal’s impressive defensive results can largely be attributed to sophomore goalkeeper Emily Boyd, who earned her third consecutive and fourth total shutout of the year. The sophomore was required to only make one save for her side, and she did not disappoint. Boyd deflected an attempt over the crossbar in the second half, which helped the Bears stay in the driver’s seat, despite the Don’s improved opportunities up top.
The Bears’ all-around stellar performance indicates that the team so far hasn’t had much of a problem dispatching less competitive foes. Their ability to remain level-headed and not underestimate their opponents will come in handy when they head into games in which they will be heavily favored to come out on top. Winning these sort of fixtures will also help McGuire better understand his squad’s technical shortcomings, instead of having to address the mental aspects of his team’s playing style.
If the Bears are able to showcase similar well-rounded performances against more challenging foes, they will further cement their claim in earning a post-season berth, where they will hope to improve on last year’s NCAA second-round finish.