Cal women’s soccer earns first conference win on Oregon road trip

Erin Haar/File

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Last week, Cal women’s soccer embarked north along the Oregon Trail in hopes of resurrecting their 2018 conference season, and while the Bears stalled in their loss against Oregon State, they emerged from the weekend with triumph, coming from behind to win at Oregon.

These breakthroughs came at a good time for the Bears, who suffered from the offensive woes that sophomore Emma Westin highlighted in their 2-1 loss at Oregon State.

If this had been a game of FIFA, Cal players would have tossed a few controllers at the television during the match. A combined nine yellow cards were handed out, and the Bears doubled the Beavers shot total, 24-12, including taking 14 in the second half without putting a goal on the board.

It was simply that kind of night in Corvallis.

Sophomore Luca Deza scored the opening 27th-minute goal for the Bears but also saw two great chances turned away by the crossbar minutes before.

Two minutes later, Oregon State was given a penalty kick opportunity for a foul committed in the box, which senior Allison Pantuso took advantage of to level the score. In the 68th minute, freshman Sydney Studer poked the ball past freshman keeper Amanda Zodikoff in the box to give Oregon State the 2-1 edge.

Against Oregon, the Bears bucked the proverbial monkey off of their collective back, capitalizing on late heroics to earn their first Pac-12 win after four straight losses. Westin served as this game’s player of the match in the 2-1 victory against the Ducks by contributing to both goals.

Westin, who hails from Stockholm, Sweden, became a fixture in Cal’s offensive attack this season, as she leads the team in goals (4) and assists (3), and is one of only three Bears to have started all 13 games.

“As a freshman, you’re always kind of not sure and everything is new,” Westin said after the Oregon match. “I’m not from America and not used to all of this, so coming back and knowing everything really gave me confidence to just play my game.”

Things looked fairly dire for the Bears early on, as Oregon jumped on top in only the 7th minute. Oregon senior forward Bayley Bruner secured her second goal of the season off a loose ball in the penalty box.

Cal solidified through the match but failed to erase the 1-0 deficit in the first 20 minutes of the second half. In the 74th minute, however, Westin got the break the Bears needed when she scored on a rebounded shot from Deza.

Only five minutes later, redshirt junior Anja Koehler secured her first goal of the season and the eventual game-winner, when she put Westin’s corner kick on frame with a header to put the score at 2-1.

“We’ve had good games, but in the final third, we haven’t really been able to get the ball in, if you want to say it like that, and today, we possessed as usual and we fought really hard, and I’m really proud of the team that we could finally get a win out of this,” Westin said.

Cal’s first Pac-12 win is an important milestone, especially against a strong Oregon side, but the weekend could have been much sweeter had they prefaced the win in Eugene with one in Corvallis. Now, the Bears look to carry on the successes of this road trip from the Pacific Northwest to the desert against Arizona this Saturday.

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