The great California clash: Bears to face Bruins, Trojans

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Celine Bellegarda/Senior Staff

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This week, the prodigal team returns to face No. 4 UCLA and No. 21 USC. The Bears will defend home turf at Witter Rugby Field against the Bruins on Friday, followed by the Trojans on Sunday.

These two matches will mark the first time the blue and gold have faced both Southern California teams this year. After breaking even last weekend with a 1-1 record against Arizona State and Arizona, Cal has a golden opportunity to prove itself against both Los Angeles heavyweights.

This “California Clash” begins Friday against the highly-ranked and extremely competitive Bruins. UCLA has scored a stunning 26 goals this season and leads the conference in save percentage (0.873) as well as goals-against average (0.56).

UCLA recently fell against Arizona State, a team that Cal defeated in an impressive fashion last week. In the teams’ 2019 meeting, the Bears earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Despite the fact that UCLA outshot Cal 17-8, the Bears managed to come out on top with the help of goals from Luca Deza and Kailee Gifford, with the latter coming in the 88th minute.

A strong defensive line will not only be key against the Bruins but will also be necessary against the offensive-minded Trojans. USC has let some easy goals get through to this point in the season, so there may be several opportunities for Cal in the middle of the field.

The last time these two squads took the field against one another was in late 2019. Cal came out victorious by a score of 3-0, in large part thanks to goals from Paige Metayer and Emma Westin. Those two will look to be just as productive this time around when they take on the Trojans.

Cal goalkeeper Angelina Anderson has been the player to watch this year, as she has anchored a stellar Bears defense. She currently has the second-most saves in the conference and earned the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Week after the Bears defeated the Cardinal in late March. On top of that, the reliable sophomore occupies spots on the coveted Hermann Award Watch List and the National Top 100 on TopDrawerSoccer.

The match against UCLA begins Friday at noon. Cal will then turn its attention to USC for their meeting Sunday at 1:45 p.m. Will the Bears come out on top, or will their Southern California rivals show their claws?

Maria Khan covers women’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected]