After dominating against the Oregon State Beavers and tying with the Oregon Ducks, the Bears move closer and closer to the culmination of the season. First, however, they must first face off against the Colorado Buffs and the Utah Utes before they take on their final opponent, the Stanford Cardinal.
The Bears will take on the Buffs first Oct. 27 in a match that is sure to be close as both schools stand with almost identical records. Cal leads with one extra win over Colorado with an overall 9-4-4 compared to Colorado’s at 8-5-4. Cal dominates both schools in conference scores with 4-3-1 while Colorado and Utah both stand at 2-4-2.
When the Bears and the Buffs last played, the match ended in a 2-2 tie. With the two scorers of that match still forming a part of Cal’s roster — Karlie Lema and Abby Borchers — they are certainly sure to be looking to fire on all cylinders to edge the win. Colorado does not share in this luck as it only counts on senior Allie Palangi to repeat her goal from last season.
Colorado houses the top offensive players of the Pac-12. Senior forward Civana Kuhlmann leads the Pac-12 with 11 goals and six assists, while her Colorado teammate, junior Shyra James follows closely with 11 goals and one assist.
Cal’s very own Keely Roy stands at No. 4, tied with three other players, with nine goals and two assists right under Stanford’s Lumi Kostmayer, who notched just one more goal and stands at 10 goals compared to Roy’s nine. Roy has been an offensive star this season, having taken every penalty kick Cal has been granted with zero misses. Roy has already exceeded last season’s team high of six goals that was set by Lema, and fans are eager to see Roy continue to obtain more goals in the last three games.
Sophomore defender Ayo Oke is tied with three other players for third place in assists with six, and has been essential to Cal’s success this season. Oke recently acquired her first goal of the season against the Oregon State Beavers. Like Roy, Oke has exceeded last season’s team high in assists that was set by Collins.
Cal’s game against Colorado during the 2021 season mirrored many of the matches the Bears have had this season. Colorado scored both goals inside of 10 minutes and the Bears spent the rest of the game playing catchup — but succeeding.
Similarly, during one of its first games of the season, Cal surrendered a goal to UC San Diego in the third minute, only scoring its final goal in the 80th minute. This pattern can be seen in a more recent game, too, such as against the Trojans,where USC scored both goals in less than 20 minutes. This pattern shows that the Bears must put their guard up and work on early-game defense to keep their opponents from scoring so early in the game.
After their match against the Buffs, the Bears will face off against the Utes. Utah stands with an overall score of 6-6-4 and fell to the Bears last season 0-1. Lema scored the winning goal against Utah with help from Rilee Harmon and Ari Manrique.
Lema clearly played a major role in Cal’s success over Utah and tie against Colorado last season. She has been a pivotal player for the Bears this season as she stands as the player with the second-most goals scored with three goals and two assists. If she can repeat her performance in the upcoming games, Cal can have high hopes of finishing the season off strong.
Cal has had a good season thus far and currently holds a better score than it did last season. The question now is whether the Bears can keep that success going.