Will USC be fourth in a row to fall against Cal on their climb to the top? This Friday the Bears will be hosting the Trojans at the homely Edwards Stadium, marking their sixth Pac-12 game and the halfway point of the conference half of the season.Cal boasts only two losses out of the six games in Pac-12 play, showing that they’re an imminent threat to any approaching teams; perhaps even USC.
The last two battles forged against the mighty Trojans squeezed out losses for the Golden Bears, losing 0-2 in 2021, and an even more disappointing 0-5 in 2020. Cal has had a solid seven wins, making the slate between the two teams exactly even. Seven losses, seven wins and two ties. The victor of Friday’s game will set precedent for any future games between Cal and USC.
There are many reappearing players from the 2021 game for both teams, with USC bringing in four newcomers and Cal only introducing two. The familiar faces from USC, such as stand-out player Croix Bethune, may prove recurring nightmares for Cal after a previous score-less loss. Bethune, who scored the first goal in the 2021 game, was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player for the week of Oct. 3 after making six of nine goals against Oregon State and University of Oregon. Along with that, in the Trojan’s most recent tirade against ASU, Bethune scored the only two goals of the game.
However, USC’s offense is matched in light of Keely Roy’s same accolade for this week. Roy was also named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after two game-winning goals and scoring three goals of Cal’s four total during the week. Cal has not had a Pac-12 offensive player of the week since 2019, so this is a large step for the blue and gold. Roy made a total of eight goals, shooting her up to the top 6 in the Pac-12 conference for scoring. Meanwhile, Croix Bethune is only one spot below with seven goals. Roy is often assisted by other star player Karlie Lema, who has also had an impressive season thus far scoring the sole goal against No. 1 superpower UCLA.
For the same week as Roy’s award, Cal defender Sydney Collins and Angelina Anderson were also nominated respectively for the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week and Goalkeeper of the Week. Cal’s defense is clearly a force to be reckoned with, and this Friday, spectators will see if the Trojans are able to penetrate the walls.
Cal and USC share some interesting track records for the current season. Cal, in the NCAA’s RPI ranking sits solidly at No. 31 with an overall score of 8-3-3, while USC rests behind at No. 36, going 8-2-1. While Cal has won against University of Arizona and lost against Arizona State, USC did the opposite, losing against Arizona and winning against ASU.
This Friday will be a game changer for Cal with USC, either continuing their renewed streak or snipping it at the bud. With the two neck and neck in awards, statistics and performance on the field, the contention is heated. It marks a lasting winner between the long-contested challenge between the giants and sets the stage for the rest of conference play.
Fans at Edwards Stadium are sure to be at the edge of their seats.