Cal women’s soccer splits two games on Oklahoma road trip

Erin Haar/File

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Cal women’s soccer (4-3) entered its road trip expecting two hard-fought matches against No. 21 Oklahoma State (5-1) and Oklahoma (2-4-1), and these two Big 12 powerhouse programs did not disappoint. Ultimately, the Bears emerged from the weekend with a hard-nosed 2-1 win against the Sooners after dropping their first game to the Cowgirls, 3-1.

Like the 2017 matchup between Cal and OSU, the victory went to the home team. Last season, the Bears handled the then-No. 14 Cowgirls in a 3-0 home win, but OSU responded Friday by notching a resounding 3-1 victory to stay undefeated at home on the year.

Oklahoma State junior midfielder Jaci Jones opened the scoring in the 20th minute, corralling the rebound off an initial save from Cal’s freshman keeper Amanda Zodikoff.

The Cowgirls continued to put the Bears’ defense under pressure in the attacking third, and 14 minutes later, an attempted defensive clearance came off the foot of a Cal defender and into the back of the net for an own goal.

The costly miscue summed up a frustrating first half of play for the Bears. Despite outshooting the Cowgirls 6-5, they entered the locker room down 2-0 at the break.

Unfortunately for Cal, the second half produced more of the same. OSU’s leading scorer, senior Marlo Zoller, fired a long-range shot from outside of the penalty area that fizzed past Zodikoff at the far post.

If there was one bright spot in this game, it was Cal junior Kayla Fong’s third goal of the year, which prevented the Bears from being shut out. Fong worked her way into a dangerous area of the Cowgirls’ box, received a short pass from redshirt sophomore Jordyn Elliott, and pushed a shot past the keeper. The assist was Elliott’s first of her collegiate career.

On Sunday, the Bears put their recent loss behind them and secured an impressive, gritty win against a good Oklahoma team. But things didn’t start out that way.

The Sooners jumped out on top first in the 29th minute, when freshman Hailey Davidson posted her third goal of the year.

Set pieces played a key role in this win for the Bears, who earned eight corner kicks in the game to the Sooners’ three, so it was fitting that the equalizing goal came after a corner by Cal junior Mia Corbin. Freshman Emma Treasure got on the end of the kick to post her first career goal just seconds before time expired in the first half.

Midway through the second half, senior Miranda Nild and sophomore Emma Westin created a chance for the Bears through solid combination play. Westin placed an incisive pass at the feet of Nild, who one-touched the ball past the Sooners’ keeper to secure the Bears’ first lead of the weekend.

Of note, Cal’s defense also came up big in the second half by exhibiting a bend-but-don’t-break style of play to shut out the Sooners and secure the much-needed 2-1 win.

This early-season road trip provided an important test for the Bears, as they faced two tough teams from the Big 12. Despite dropping their first game, the Bears’ victory against Oklahoma marked the end of a successful weekend and kept the squad above the .500 mark.

Max Mennemeier covers women’s soccer. Contact him at [email protected].