From Costa Rica, to Portland, to the Dominican Republic, Cal women’s soccer has made the long trek home from national teams to Cal’s Maxwell Family Field in preparation for the 2022 season.
After ending the 2021 season on a three-game losing streak — and an overall 8-7-3 and 4-6-1 record in conference play that left it tied for seventh place in the Pac-12 — the team plans to further boost its improvement from the 2020 and 2021 seasons after its newfound international recognition and experience.
Being more recently named number six in the 2022 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll, it is clear that Cal intends to inch up the rankings each season and aim even higher for 2022.
The season opens with an away game against Irvine on Thursday. The Bears fumbled the ball with their first loss to the Anteaters in 2021 after 11 consecutive wins against the team. In 2022 the Bears hope to reinstate this streak.
Soon after is an exhibition game against the Chinese national team at Edwards Stadium on Aug. 20, which will be the Bears’ first home game of the season. The fall season will consist of 20 games, including nine home games and nine Pac-12 conference games.
With only three new recruits added to the 31-player roster, the team has solidified since the 2021 season when it brought in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer. The new additions include Mya Daily, Teagan Wy and returning player Kailee Gifford, who spent a season at Pepperdine.
During the offseason, sophomore defender Ayo Oke along with freshman goalkeeper Wy went international to play in the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, hosted in Costa Rica.
Oke was named by Top Drawer Soccer as one of the top new recruits from the 2021 season and earned an appointment to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Oke assisted in the qualifications, winning the CONCACAF U-20 Championship with the U.S. national team in 2022, marking its seventh consecutive win.
Oke, along with Top Drawer Soccer’s “No. 1 player to know” on the team, fellow defender Sydney Collins, are bound to step up to the plate after many of the team’s top defenders graduated last season.
Wy also participated in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in 2018 and has been a member of the U.S. youth national teams for the past five years. She has more recently been ranked the 18th best prospect in the country by Top Drawer Soccer.
Fellow goalkeeper Angelina Anderson also returns for her fourth and final year with Cal. Anderson has had more than 200 saves throughout her career, with 46 total in 2021. This being her third successive year as team captain, she is confident in the members of her team, a majority of which are her previous teammates.
“It really helps that we’re all mostly returners, so we know what we needed over the summer and what we individually had to focus on … So far, the chemistry has been incredible, right from the get-go, since we’re all so close already,”Anderson said.
Another player to watch in the upcoming games is rising sophomore forward Karlie Lema, who scored a total of 12 points — double the amount of most other players on the team in the 2021 season.
With consecutive fall and spring seasons in 2021, the blue and gold resurfaced for air with their offseason this year. From local to national tournaments, the Cal women’s soccer team gained a plethora of experience with its time over break, and should be eager to prove it in the upcoming season.
“We’re sick of giving up these silly little goals. We’re sick of winning 1-0 to teams we should be beating 5-0. We’re going all-in this year. And (with) that mindset, (it) doesn’t matter who we’re playing.” Anderson said.