If you ask people from Northern California what they think of Southern California, and vice versa, the answer is generally negative. The animosity among those from these two regions is so fierce, in fact, that you might as well treat them as two different states. This rivalry was on full display these past few days, when the No. 16 Cal women’s soccer team (13-4-1, 6-3-1) took on No. 5 USC (14-1-1, 8-0-1) and No. 6 UCLA (14-2-2, 7-2-1) in Los Angeles — and SoCal came out wholly victorious.
After losing to the Trojans on Thursday night 1-0, the Bears jogged onto the field Sunday hungry for a win against the Bruins. Sophomore striker Abi Kim tallied the first shot on goal of the game in just the match’s third minute and forced UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah to make a tough save. From that shot on, though, the Bruins’ offense dominated the contest.
UCLA, on the other hand, was hyper-aggressive. In a span of approximately 16 minutes — from the seventh to the 23rd minute — UCLA put up six shots. From the 18th to the 23rd minute, junior forward Hailie Mace hit the crossbar twice, and in the 19th minute, senior defender Haley Lukas was forced to make a goal-line save off of a corner kick.
UCLA more than doubled Cal’s first-half shot total — 10 to four — and the Bears’ defense was clearly fatigued by the consistent forward attacks. Cal goalkeeper Emily Boyd made four saves to keep the score tied at zero and was only forced to make more in the second half.
In the second half, the Bruins got things started offensively right out of the gate. In the 48th minute, freshman forward Delanie Sheehan ripped a shot that forced Boyd to make yet another save.
At the Bruins’ pace, it was only a matter of time before they put one in the back of the net. That moment came in the 57th minute, less than a minute after Boyd had made yet another save off of a shot by senior defender MacKenzie Cerda. The goal came when freshman forward Ashley Sanchez dribbled through the Bears’ defense and into the 18-yard box and fired a shot that went past the fingertips of Boyd.
UCLA nearly doubled its lead just a few minutes later when, in the 60th minute, Mace made yet another lethal attack, getting a shot off that Boyd deflected out.
The Bears put up three shot attempts in the rest of the second half, but they were unable to ultimately put one in the back of the net. An equalizer nearly came in 81st minute, when Kim hit the post on a shot that looked unblockable — but the shot failed to reach the back of the net.
Cal was hindered by a lack of flow and connection in the midfield. The Bears could only occasionally generate, as they continuously faced problems possessing the ball, which proved insufficient to beat a highly lethal UCLA team.
With two back-to-back losses to higher-ranked opponents, Cal will have to go back to the drawing board and figure out a tactic that can help to increase its offensive productivity. The Bears put just two shots on goal against the Bruins, a number that just won’t cut it if they want to beat the best teams in the country.
Sophie Goethals is the assistant sports editor. Contact her at [email protected]