No. 14 Cal women’s soccer faces Colorado

Phillip Downey/File

After completing a two-game West Coast series against San Francisco and Cal Poly this past weekend, the Bears will be heading to the Midwest to take on Colorado. On Sunday, No. 14 Cal women’s soccer (6-1-2) will be given the task of slowing down a hot Buffaloes team which has won five of its six contests.

Colorado (6-2-1) will be coming into the match off a winning note, defeating Villanova at home with a score of 3-0 Sunday. Colorado’s lead scorer, junior forward Brie Hooks, recorded her fourth goal of the season in the game, while also helping the Buffaloes maintain their strong home record of 5-1.

The Bears, who are coming off a disappointing 0-0 tie against Cal Poly on Sunday, will have extra motivation to turn it around and get back on the winning track with the opportunity to spoil the Buffaloes’ dominance at home.

Coming into the matchup, the Bears and the Buffaloes hold nearly identical offensive stats on the season. This year, Cal has made a total of 66 shots on goal out of 136 attempts, scoring 16 of these attempts. Colorado, on the other hand, has made 63 shots on goal in 142 attempts, making 15. Both teams also hold the same number of assists at 17.

Even though the numbers are similar, the teams have put their points on the board in different ways. Cal has been reaping the rewards of  junior forward Arielle Ship’s breakout year. With eight goals on the year, she has scored half of the goals for the Bears, while also leading the team in shots and points.

Colorado, on the other hand, does not have a clear go-to player on their offense like the Bears have with Ship. However, the Buffaloes have been able to put up points this season by coming at opposing defenses with multiple threats to score. While Cal has only two players who have more than one goal this season (Ship and senior forward Celeste Boureille) Colorado has four, including Hooks and junior forward Danica Evans with four and three goals, respectively.

Just as on offense, the defenses of both teams are nearly identical on paper and will most likely put their opponents’ offenses to the test. This past weekend, sophomore goalkeeper Emily Boyd, who racked in her fourth consecutive shutout, earned her second straight Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week award. She has also stopped opposing forwards in their tracks this season by making a total of 21 saves and allowing only four goals.

Colorado’s primary goal keeper, senior Kate Scheele, has had a fine season of her own so far as well. Scheele has kept opponents to only five goals in nine games while making saves on 18 shots. Freshman keeper Scout Watson has also contributed, playing in two games for a total of 90 minutes with one save.

Dissection of top defenses, however, has not proven to be a problem this season for Cal. If Colorado can contain Ship and Boureille, the Bears will have to get creative in finding a way to earn their seventh victory of the year.

Chris Tril covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected]