Cal Hits Road Without Top Scorer Morgan

Photo: Senior midfielder Emily Shibata has started seven of Cal's nine games. The Bears are coming off of a loss to No. 3 Portland, their first of the season. They have three ties.many' yesterday, but recent layoffs, freezes and shaky benefits programs have many staffers worried. Some employees even.
Jeff Totten/File
Senior midfielder Emily Shibata has started seven of Cal's nine games. The Bears are coming off of a loss to No. 3 Portland, their first of the season. They have three ties.many' yesterday, but recent layoffs, freezes and shaky benefits programs have many staffers worried. Some employees even.

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Last week, the No. 16 Cal women's soccer team finished both an eight-game undefeated streak and a season-long string of home games with a 3-1 loss to then-No. 3 Portland. The Bears (5-1-3) will hit the road for the first time this Saturday, but they won't trek very far. They face another East Bay competitor, St. Mary's (6-3-2), at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

While the Gaels lost, 3-1, to the Bears' fellow Pac-10 team, Washington, a week ago, tomorrow's match at St. Mary's Stadium in Moraga, Calif., is still important. It is Cal's last non-conference match before starting Pac-10 play against No. 11 UCLA next week. The team is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the 2010 season.

"We did a lot of good things against Portland; we just have to be better in transition defensively," he said. "We have to be tight on our marks in our final third, and we just have to make sure that we take advantage of any opportunities we get."

Capitalizing on offensive chances won't be as easy as usual for the team which has outscored its opponents by a combined 25-9 margin. Senior Alex Morgan, who scored 10 of those 25 goals and has taken 49 of the team's 141 shots, is gone this weekend at a U.S. national team training camp.

"There's no doubt Alex Morgan is extremely talented," McGuire said. "But this team is full of talented players."

The team proved they don't need Morgan's golden shots to score against a top team. At halftime last Thursday, the Bears took a 1-0 lead over the Pilots off sophomore Lauren Battung's 19th-minute goal.

While Morgan is most frequently featured on the scoreboard for goals, Battung and Katrin Omarsdottir, who assisted the Portland goal, are most often the ones starting the plays that Morgan finishes off.

They lead the team with three assists each, but Cal's attack remains well-balanced. The team's 15 assists are spread among 10 players.

When discussing the obstacle at hand, McGuire seemed less concerned about the team's offense, which has, on average, outshot opponents, 15.7 to 6.3.

Keeping up the aggression on the net will be key if the Bears' offense wants to score against St. Mary's keeper Sarah Peters. She has a 0.79 goals-against average in 11 games, one more than Cal has played. McGuire cited Peters as an obstacle the Bears would need to overcome this weekend.

He also emphasized the Gaels' offense capability of breaking past the Bears' back line.

"They have an ability to switch the point of attack and are dangerous on the weak side of the field defensively," McGuire said.

While Cal is familiar with its local opponent, it might not be as well-versed with one talented newcomer. The top scorer for St. Mary's is freshman midfielder Jordan Marada, who has racked up four goals and two assists in her first 11 collegiate matches.

Tags: ALEX MORGAN, CAL WOMEN'S SOCCER, NEIL MCGUIRE


Alex Matthews covers women's soccer. Contact her at [email protected]



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