Cal vs. Stanford is finally upon us, as the two teams will battle to see who dominates the Bay on Saturday, March 16 at 5 p.m.
No. 18 Stanford will mark the third-ranked opponent Cal has faced this season. After seeing their four-game winning streak snapped last weekend by Colorado, the Bears will be looking for revenge, especially against rival school Stanford.
The Cardinals are currently 5-2, having lost to Colorado and Denver, two opponents the Bears also suffered losses to. Both Colorado and Denver were ranked when Cal and Stanford played them, so the Cardinals’ record isn’t to be taken lightly.
The Bears have been very successful lately, reaching the .500 mark on the season before falling to Colorado. Even in the Bears’ loss to the Buffaloes, they put up a strong fight and dominated the draw controls 22-7.
“We’ve been working really, really hard in all of our practices. We’ve been scouting really well,” said Cal senior Caroline Corzel. “I think we’re really just coming together as a team and playing as hard as we can. And we’re challenging each other in practice, which is making us better on the field during gameday.”
The Bears are fortunate to only have Stanford on the schedule for this weekend, meaning the team can focus its full attention on the Cardinals and prepare to take down the historic rival. If Cal can beat the ranked team, the Bears will surely have their presence known in Pac-12 play for the rest of the season.
One area in which Cal has suffered this year is turnovers, giving up the ball 136 times in nine games. Although Stanford is a tough opponent, if the Bears can dominate the draw control as they did against Colorado and manage to cut down turnovers, the team might see itself defending its turf for a victory at the Big Game on Saturday.
Stanford sophomore Ali Baiocco leads the Cardinals with 34 points this season in seven games, so shutting down her offensive attacks will be key to Cal’s success. In comparison, the Bears’ points leader is Kirsten Swanson, who has 24 points throughout nine games.
Both teams are 1-1 in conference play, so this game will also be significant as the teams try to climb the rankings inside the Pac-12. Although it’s so early in conference play, the amount on the line for the Bears should motivate Cal to have its strongest performance of the season, and with the way the team has been playing lately, a strong performance should be what the fans see.
Cal hasn’t defeated a ranked team in more than 10 years, when the team beat Oregon 12-8 back in 2008. The deed may seem unlikely, but the Bears will be out to prove they are contenders this year against Stanford.
The Bears’ next conference matchup after Stanford will be March 23 in Los Angeles against USC.