No. 25 Cal women’s soccer tops Long Beach State after Texas matchup cancelled

After this weekend’s favorable 1-0 win against Long Beach State, it is safe to say that the No. 25 Cal women’s soccer team has cemented its reputation as a second-half team.

While the Bears were supposed to play two matches this weekend, Friday’s game against Texas was canceled because of extremely high temperatures and poor air quality, and it won’t be replayed. This last-minute rest day, however, allowed the Bears to focus all their energy on Sunday’s game.

The first half was a battle that was fought primarily in the middle of the field. Each team’s defense worked hard to shut down any attack from the other side, and the midfielders were bouncing back and forth trying to maintain possession. Despite the ball movement, neither team was able to make anything of its opportunities.

Arguably the most exciting part of the first half was in the final minute — the 49ers took multiple shots at Cal from inside the box, and the ball was saved off the line by some well-placed defenders.

“Our actual backline and goalkeeper did a very good job of denying several very good players on Long Beach,” Cal head coach Neil McGuire said. “Obviously we knew about (Long Beach senior) Tori Bolden, a very fast and athletic player, and I thought they marshalled her very well, so I’m very pleased with their performances.”

Coming out of halftime, the Bears were aggressive and quick to the ball as they dominated the possession. As soon as the 49ers found their footing, however, Cal struggled to stay on top. For the remainder of the half, Cal’s energy seemingly rose and fell in waves.

“We talked at halftime that regardless of system or style we have to have real work ethic,” McGuire said. “I think our team came out and worked a lot harder, and as a result of harder work, we had the ball more.”

Sophomore Abi Kim was seemingly absent from Sunday’s game, as Long Beach State’s defense denied almost every opportunity for her to get the ball, sufficiently stopping the Cal attack for most of the game. But, in the 74th minute, the Bears finally broke the scoreless draw. After the ball pinged around the box for a bit, junior Miranda Nild was able to slot it into the corner of the goal, securing her second goal of the season.

After the goal, Cal didn’t allow Long Beach State any opportunities on offense. The midfield beat the 49ers to every ball, and the defense maintained a cool face while denying any chance on goal.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” McGuire said. “They keep the ball very well, which meant that when we had the ball, we had to keep it better. Over the course of 90 minutes, the game could’ve gone either way, but we are very pleased with the win.”

With this win, the Bears remain undefeated at home. A second-half reputation, however, is dangerous for any team. Soon enough, Cal will face an opponent that won’t allow it any chances in the last 45 minutes. If the Bears can’t start a game strong and maintain a certain level of energy and motivation for 90 minutes, there won’t be any space in the playoffs for them.

Sophie Durham covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].