With Pac-12 play right around the corner, Cal women’s soccer (4-3) will have one final tuneup when its final nonconference opponent, UC Davis (3-4-1), comes to town Friday.
The Bears enter Friday’s contest with a stunning 11-0-1 record against the Aggies since 1984. That stat does not, however, include an unrecorded result in a spring game just a few months ago, in which UC Davis came out on top. While the match did not come in the context of the regular season, it remains the most recent meeting of the two teams.
As for the regular season, the Bears and the Aggies most recently met in 2017, when now-sophomore Luca Deza and now-senior Miranda Nild each put up a goal, and goalkeeper Emily Boyd, who has since graduated, made four saves to complete a 2-0 Cal victory on the road at Aggie Soccer Field.
This year, the Cal defense will certainly have its eye on UC Davis scoring leader redshirt sophomore midfielder Alicia Sloss, who will come into the game with two goals on 10 shots this season. On the other side of the ball, it will be up to Cal junior forward tandem of Abi Kim and Kayla Fong to crack a UC Davis defense that has allowed an average of 1.38 goals per game. Kim and Fong have each found the back of the net three times this season on a combined 18 shots.
“They (UC Davis) are going to come in with a lot of confidence that they’re capable of competing and beating Cal,” head coach Neil McGuire said. “But we have to focus on ourselves and the details that are important to us. We definitely never overplay past results, because ultimately, it’s what happens on the day.”
Last weekend, the Bears went 1-1 on their first interstate road trip of the year down to Oklahoma. The big test came Friday against No. 21 Oklahoma State –– despite avoiding a shutout, Cal could not close out a victory, ultimately dropping the game 1-3.
The team was able to recover quickly, though, as Sunday’s meeting with Oklahoma marked Cal’s first road win and fourth overall victory of the season. Freshman goalkeeper Amanda Zodikoff made her second career start (her first being just a few days earlier at Oklahoma State), deftly defending Oklahoma’s 13 shots and sealing the 2-1 Cal victory.
The Aggies, on the other hand, enter Friday’s game on the wrong side of a two-game stretch of extra soccer. Last weekend, they took a scoreless tie with San Jose State through two full periods of play before surrendering a devastating golden goal in the 108th minute. Just three days before that, a hard-fought match against Weber State ended in a 1-1 tie. UC Davis forced overtime with a clutch goal in the 82nd minute, but it proved not enough to seal the win. It’s hard not to think that Aggie morale might be low, given the circumstances.
Sitting just outside of a spot in the Top Drawer Soccer national rankings, the Bears will be eyeing the win that could put them over the top this weekend. Staring down two matches against top-25 teams in the upcoming weeks, earning their spot now could be crucial.
“UC Davis are a very, very committed team, both in the run of play as well as on set pieces,” McGuire said. “And we have to be on top of our game in terms of how we keep the ball and also try and minimize their opportunities on set pieces.”
The Bears will undoubtedly have their work cut out for them Friday. A win in the final game of nonconference play would be an invaluable confidence boost as they prepare to take on fellow members of one of the toughest conferences in collegiate women’s soccer.