No. 19 Cal women’s soccer falls to USF, beats UC Davis to split on weekend

Jihoon Park/File

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No matter how well a soccer team performs in a game, if you don’t score, you can’t win. A team can play beautifully both offensively and defensively, but a win isn’t within reach until an offense has proven that it can finish in the back of the net. The No. 19 Cal Women’s soccer team (3-1) received a dose of this harsh reality Friday night when it fell to San Francisco, 1-0.

The Bears controlled the pace for much of the game, and in the first half they had a string of three shots in the span of 10 minutes, but a mixture of stellar goalkeeping by Dons keeper Olivia Camera and poor accuracy from Cal’s shooters kept the ball from finding the back of the net for the first 45 minutes. USF also had a hard time churning out effective offensive attempts in the first half, taking five shots, only one of which was on frame.

Cal started the second half clearly hungry for a goal. In the 47th minute, a corner from redshirt senior Kelly Fitzgerald led to a shot by fellow senior Heather Walleigh, which went wide. That first shot attempt, though, only made the Bears hungrier. In the next nine minutes, Cal put up three more shots, two of which were on frame and saved by the heroic efforts of Camera.

It’s also common knowledge that in the game of soccer, often all you need is a single goal to achieve victory. The Dons got that single goal in the 86th minute when sophomore Izzie Lueken hit a volley with her left foot just inside the 18-yard box that blasted past senior Cal goalkeeper Emily Boyd. And with just four minutes remaining in the game, the Bears weren’t able to recover, suffering their first loss of the season.

Learning lessons Friday night, Cal entered its game Sunday against UC Davis determined to return to its winning ways.

“Coming out of that game (against USF), we knew we had to win this game, and we were definitely determined to come out with a win,” said Cal junior forward Miranda Nild.

Come out with the win they did. Cal tallied its first goal of the game in the 34th minute when freshman Luca Deza received a ball from fellow freshman Caroline Clark, found space for herself and fired a shot to the left post that skirted by the Aggie goalkeeper. The shots only kept coming after that — a barrage of on-frame attempts that forced UC Davis keeper junior Alexis Smith to make 11 saves throughout the course of the game.

Cal was finally able to net an additional goal in the 89th minute as the game was winding down. This time it came from Nild after Clark intercepted a pass from the Aggies and took it down the sideline, slotting it in to find Nild for the finish. The goal sealed a 2-0 win for the Bears and retained Cal’s winning record on the season thus far.

The Bears’ offense against the Aggies showed a marked difference from their performance against the Dons. While Cal only got 10 shots off Friday night, it put up 23 on Sunday. And if the only way to win games is to score goals, and the only way to score goals is to take shots, the Bears have shown that they have the offensive wherewithal to continue their winning ways.

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