Coming into Saturday’s game, the No. 10 Cal women’s soccer team was heavily favored to defeat Oregon. The Bears had only conceded six goals until this match, while the Ducks had conceded 20. Cal had not lost its last seven matches, while the Ducks had lost six in a row.
If the Oregon fans were praying for a miracle, well, that didn’t happen.
The Bears were able to come out with a comfortable 2-0 win to increase their win count for the season to 12. Goals from forwards Arielle Ship and Ifeoma Onumonu were enough to dispose of the Ducks in Eugene, Oregon.
“I felt we were in control of the match,” said head coach Neil McGuire. “They did create some chances which we had to deal with, but for the most part we felt like we were the aggressor.”
The match was characterized by another impressive display by Cal’s defense as it dealt with Oregon’s forward line in a very effective manner. While Oregon’s attacking play was very unimaginative throughout the match, it did send in some dangerous crosses. Cal goalie and last week’s NCAA Player of the Week, Emily Boyd, pulled off an athletic save to push out a cross in the 53rd minute. All in all, the Ducks’ forward line hardly tested Boyd, as it only recorded four shots in the entire game, with two of them on goal.
Cal’s offensive play, on the other hand, was far better than that of its opponents. The Bears kept the ball and relied on quick passing to open up the Oregon defense. Unlike in previous matches, however, the Bears’ build-up play was relatively slow. The rain-soaked pitch might have contributed to diminishing the ground speed of the ball.
Cal broke the deadlock in the 20th minute through Ship’s penalty. The penalty was awarded to the Bears after Onumonu was fouled inside the box. Onumonu met Ship’s through ball on the left wing and then cut inside with it and was tripped inside of the box. Ship sent in a low ball to Oregon goalie Hala Hinriksdottir’s left and scored. While Ship did score, it wasn’t a particularly impressive shot and Hinriksdottir should have done better.
The match continued to play in the Bears’ favor. Cal stayed in control for the entire match with Oregon seemingly unable to counter attack. Cal laid the match to rest in the 61st minute with Onumonu scoring her eighth goal of the season. Abigail Kim darted with the ball to the right wing and showed impressive speed to leave Oregon defenders in the wake of her trail. Kim then sent in a low cross into the middle of the box, where Onumonu side-footed it past Hinriksdottir.
Game, set and match to Cal. The win improved Cal’s Pac-12 record to 5-0-1.
In such a complete team performance, it is hard to point out a single brilliant performance, but Onumonu’s play deserves special mention. Her movement both on and off the ball helped in the attacking flow of the team. Onumonu’s x-factor lies in her ability to break free of markers and find space, and this was there for everyone to see in the move for the second goal.
“I think we had a good overall performance,” McGuire said. “We’re on a good run and everyone is playing very well. We have a tough road ahead, but doing well in conference play is definitely a morale booster.”