No. 24 Cal women’s soccer travels north for last non-conference match

Anissa Nishioka/Staff

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With a few wins tucked under its belt, the No. 24 Cal women’s soccer team (4-1) is heading up to Sacramento State (3-2) on Friday for its final road game in nonconference play.

The Bears have been exuding confidence, knocking down almost every team in their path. Sophomore Abi Kim and junior Miranda Nild lead the team with three and two goals, respectively, and 13 players have taken shots, establishing Cal’s well-rounded offense despite the low number of goals.

The Bears’ defense, however, has been the real backbone of the team. The defense has only allowed three goals in five games and is looking to continue their shutout streak Friday to three. Senior defender Indigo Gibson has played each game in its entirety and has even had three shots in the last two games.

“I really think that this year, our back line has been rock-solid,” Gibson said. “We just have a really good connection on the field, and we all share one common goal. … We are very determined, and we are lucky that we have such talented people on the back line. We also have a lot of depth on the bench, so if we do need people coming in, we can trust in those people.”

The last time Cal played Sacramento State was back in 2009, when current U.S. women’s national team star forward Alex Morgan was a lowly junior with the Bears. Despite Cal’s 19 shots, four of which came from Morgan, the Bears fell 1-0 to the Hornets. Friday’s game will be the third meeting between the two teams and the first game played at Sacramento.

“I think we are just sticking to our normal routine (to prepare for the game),” Gibson said. “I definitely think that our coaches are pushing us to be better in the final third of the field, just getting off more chances. … We’ve had a pretty successful season so far, so I think that we are just working hard.”

Coming off of a 1-0 loss to Texas, who Cal was supposed to play last Friday before high temperatures forced a cancellation, Sacramento State is looking to break their losing streak before it snowballs.

They have had two overtime games so far and only walked away from one with a win. In fact, all five of Sacramento State’s matches have been decided by only one goal. The Hornets’ stamina, however, may be the Cal’s downfall, as it has yet to play a full match while maintaining peak energy.

Sacramento State has been testing the waters with its 11 new freshmen. Freshman Kylee Kim-Bustillos has been very impressive, as she leads the team with three goals this season. The Hornets also have four goalkeepers and have tried out three of them so far, with freshman Aaliyah Fesili, who recorded a shutout against UNLV, clocking in the most amount of time played.

This game will test Cal to see if it has what it takes to leave behind an impressive season. While its defense is set and strong, there has been a struggle on offense to score goals in a timely manner. The Bears must take advantage of every opportunity they have on goal, or else they will be brushed aside as the other conference teams leave them in the dust on the road to the NCAA tournament.

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