Playing at 5,430 feet above sea level in Boulder, Colorado, the Cal women’s soccer team found the thin air to prove difficult. Colorado handed the Bears their second loss of the season in upset fashion, grazing in a header in double overtime to seal the game with a score of 2-1.
“I think the girls actually played a very good game, but playing in altitudes is always tough,” said Cal head coach Neil McGuire.
Going into Sunday’s matchup against Colorado, the Bears (6-2-2) were trying to get back into top shape after a disappointing 0-0 tie against Cal Poly. The Buffaloes (7-2-1), on the other hand, were looking to maintain their recent dominance. The matchup at Prentup Field looked to be an impressive one, with two Pac-12 teams with almost identical records battling it out.
The game started out slow for both squads coming out of the gates, with the contest remaining scoreless for the better part of the first half. Both teams were aggressive on offense, with Cal and Colorado attempting eight and nine shots in the half, respectively. Strong defense and misplaced shots by both teams, however, kept the game scoreless until the 38th minute.
Of the missed scoring opportunities early in the game, the most prominent for Cal was when senior forward Celeste Boureille hit the crossbar of Colorado’s goal in the 15th minute. Six minutes later, Colorado missed an opportunity of its own when sophomore defender Joss Orejel’s shot deflected off the Bears’ post.
37:51 into the game, Cal junior defender Lynsey Hromatko shot her first goal as a Bear to give the team a 1-0 advantage. The excitement was unfortunately short lived, however, as Colorado sophomore forward Brittney Stark countered with her third goal of the season to keep the contest knotted up at the conclusion of the half.
After the second-half kickoff, both team’s defenses completely dominated until the end of regulation. In addition to the two saves she had earlier in the game, Cal sophomore goalkeeper Emily Boyd completed three more in the second half, which tied her season best for saves in a game.
As the clock hit 90 with the score still set at 1-1, the Bears were about to play in their second overtime match in as many games. Other than a couple of corner kicks from Colorado’s Orejel, the first overtime was quiet, and an extra 10 minutes were added.
Unfortunately for Cal, Colorado struck first in scoring during overtime from the kick of senior forward Emily Paxton. Paxton, who hit her first career game-winning goal with less than five minutes remaining in the second overtime, headed in the ball past Boyd from yet another corner kick from Orejel.
After suffering from yet another disappointment in double overtime, Cal hopes to turn around its luck during next week’s trip to Arizona to face both the Wildcats and Arizona State.
Chris Tril covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].