Cal women’s soccer puts strong start on line against USF

Karen Chow/File

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The Cal women’s soccer team (2-0) has found success so far in Berkeley, but as this Friday’s game against San Francisco (1-1) nears the question is whether they can continue that success when they cross the bay.

With two 2-1 victories under their belts, the Bears have good reason to be confident in this match — especially given that Cal has beaten the Dons in the last seven games between the two schools. But the Bears have also narrowly came away with their two wins, particularly by earning a penalty kick in the 89th minute against then-No.24 Santa Clara, allowing them to come away with a win.

Cal is going to have to put their opportunities away if they want to remain undefeated against a scrappy Dons team. In its first game of the season, USF fell to Texas Tech in a competitive double-overtime match. While Texas Tech pounded shots on San Francisco — 24 alone in regulation time — the Dons managed to remain alive thanks to seven regulation-time saves from goalkeeper Olivia Camera. Camera tallied 7 saves in the next game as well, showing a solid presence in the net.

Camera could cause the Bears’ offense some difficulties, but it’s undoubtable that Cal has both the personnel and capability to sneak by the quick Don keeper. The Bears’ star sophomore striker Abi Kim was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week, thanks to the three goals that she scored in Cal’s first two games. Kim’s speed and ability to get behind her opponent’s last line of defense has proved to be the Bears’ greatest offensive asset this year, and if she continues to do so she’ll only have to face the goalie in order to carry Cal to victory.

Another standout Bear is redshirt senior Kelly Fitzgerald, who scored Cal’s second goal in its victory against the Broncos. Fitzgerald brings consistency and leadership to the Bears, who has been an integral member of the team and last season put more than 50 percent of her shots on frame.

The Bears’ defense, which held Santa Clara to just seven shots, only two of which were on goal, should have no trouble stopping a Dons team that managed to put up just nine shots in their first game. Cal will face the most trouble stopping sophomore forward Miciah Madison, who managed to put up three shots on goal in 65 minutes against New Mexico. Madison is aided up top by fellow sophomore forward Izzie Lueken, who put two shots on goal against Texas Tech.

The Bears have already made improvements so far as compared to where they were at this point last season. That means nothing, though, if they fail to build upon their undefeated record. They must not let their dominance of a top-25 team get to their heads, but rather use it as an indication of how to find future success. That success will likely rely heavily on Kim and Fitzgerald leading the offensive charge for the Bears — a burden that they have both proven more than capable of bearing.

Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]