After suffering a frustrating loss, a team can only focus on one thing — exacting sweet, sweet revenge. When the Bears welcome Oregon and Colorado to their home field this weekend, they will have a golden chance at doing just that.
“This week we’ve really been focusing on intensity,” said senior midfielder Chloe Landry. “A lot of our games we have some ups and downs, so we are trying to just eliminate those lull moments. A lot of the drills … we’ve been in teams, and there’s a punishment if you lose, so it’s been a super competitive practice the last couple of days.”
Oregon, which currently holds the third-place spot in the conference, is trending upwards thanks to a four-game win streak that includes a comfortable victory at home over then-No. 16 USC. The Ducks have rolled over these last four opponents by average margin of nine goals per game.
The offense is clicking on an elite level, lead primarily by senior attacker Jill Zubillaga who has scored at least a hat trick in each of the last five games, marking a whopping five goals at Vanderbilt and six goals against Arizona State.
Following their clash with the Ducks, the Bears will be gearing to play Colorado on Sunday.
“It’s really awesome that we get to play them again,” Landry said. “We got to see what we did against them, what worked, what didn’t work — really focus on what we can do to capitalize on their mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Colorado sports a nearly unblemished Pac-12 record (6-1), with its sole loss coming at USC — a game determined by a single goal in overtime. Overall, the Buffaloes are undefeated at home, but fortunately for the Bears, opponent stadiums have often flustered them; their away record has fallen to a measly 2-4.
Either way, Cal needs to be watching out for senior attacker Darby Kiernan, who is tied for the most goals in the Pac-12 (42) and is top five in assists per game.
Earlier this season, Cal faced Oregon and Colorado back-to-back on the road and in each of these games fell behind very early. The Bears faced 4-0 and 6-0 deficits to start the games, respectively.
In each scenario, Cal fought back to make up some ground, but in the end, its shoddy starts could not be surmounted.
“The main focus of our practice has been energy, like, going into the end of season, we want to focus on keeping positive energy and … playing the full 60 minutes,” said sophomore attacker Susie Ropp.
In the context of this weekend, the key takeaway is that Cal played these opponents tough later in the game as adjustments were made. It’s important to note that the Bears’ games against the Ducks and the Buffaloes not only were played on away turf as part of a relentless road trip, but also came as their first Pac-12 games ever.
The team, which now has played seven games in the conference, has matured since that point. If the Bears are able to avoid extended periods of lifelessness, chiefly to start the match, the outlook for their weekend looks rather respectable — and playing at home does not hurt either.