The No. 14 Cal women’s soccer team traveled to Southern California on Thursday night to compete against one of the best teams in the nation, No.10 UCLA. The Bears knew they could prove themselves as serious Pac-12 contenders if they somehow escaped with a win.
But the Bruins came ready to play, putting constant pressure on Cal junior goalie Emily Boyd. The match ended in a stalemate, as both teams scored a goal apiece, finishing in a 1-1 tie.
“The team played tremendously well against a very good UCLA team, anytime you go on the road against a powerhouse it’s not going to be easy, so I’m very proud of the girls,” said Cal head coach Neil McGuire.
It was clear from the very beginning that the Bruins offense was unlike anything Cal had faced this year. UCLA was able to draw two corner kicks after only two minutes, but neither were successful in scoring.
Thankfully for the Bears, Boyd also opened the game with tons of energy. She made two phenomenal saves within the first 15 minutes, preventing freshman Jesse Fleming from scoring.
Cal didn’t take long to retaliate and took advantage of every opportunity it could. Freshman Abigail Kim started a brilliant possession in the 16th minute, driving the ball to the right of the box and passing it back to redshirt senior Ifeoma Onumonu. She took advantage of the opportunity, finding a window and scoring Cal’s first goal of the day.
Boyd continued to come up big the rest of the first half, once again blocking a goal in the 39th minute from sophomore Hailie Mace. This came after a great run by Mace down the middle of the field, shooting the ball to the right of the net but finding no success.
Cal entered the second half knowing it was just 45 minutes away from a huge upset. The tempo slowed down significantly in the second half for both teams. Still, this didn’t stop the Bruins from continuing to put pressure on the Bears.
Redshirt freshman Anika Rodriguez tried to get UCLA on the board in the 61st minute, taking a shot from over 15 yards out.
But Boyd saw it coming, easily making her sixth save of the day.
UCLA redshirt senior Courtney Proctor, however, was still determined to win, making a last stand for the Bruins in the final minute of the game. She drove the ball down to the middle of the box and kicked in a heartbreaking goal past Boyd. This sent the game into overtime, as both teams now realized that one final goal would seal the victory.
Both teams were unable to score the golden goal in overtime despite coming close several times. Fleming almost made Cal’s night one to forget in the 105th minute, shooting a ball to the right of the net. Like the rest of the night, Boyd was at the right place at the right time, blocking the ball from going in. And shortly after, she blocked another UCLA goal from getting in the net after a header from freshman Sunny Dunphy.
Cal proved Thursday night that they can compete with any team in the Pac-12 conference, but they’ll need to play even better if they want to compete with serious national contenders.
Alex Quintana covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected]