Bears Manage Draw After Season-Opening Win

Photo: Samantha Walker returns as a starter for her sophomore season. The Bears tied UC Irvine, 2-2, yesterday after beating Loyola Marymount.
Anna Vignet/Staff
Samantha Walker returns as a starter for her sophomore season. The Bears tied UC Irvine, 2-2, yesterday after beating Loyola Marymount.

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The Cal women's soccer team is 1-0-1 after their first weekend of regular season games. The Bears beat Loyola Marymount, 2-1, Friday afternoon and tied UC Irvine, 2-2, even after 20 minutes of overtime.

Against the Lions, Cal was dominant possession-wise, pressuring their opponent's defensive third for much of the game.

"For a first game, we just came out as a spitfire," co-captain Emily Shibata said.

Yet the goal margin didn't reflect the disproportionate amount of time the Bears spent on the offense.

"It's very natural this early in the season maybe not to be on frame as much as you would hope," coach McGuire said. "But the players are doing a great job."

Cal's defense was a highlight of Friday's match. Freshman Emi Lawson was quick to shut down every advance the Lions made. The first 85 minutes of the game were a shutout.

McGuire attributed the Bears' defensive strength to the dynamic teamwork between players such as Lawson and senior Danielle Brunache on the back line.

"(Brunache has) been a lot of help in directing me and helping me know where to go," Lawson said of her teammates' support in the challenge of playing such a crucial position on the field her first season.

Despite Cal's success with possession and defense, Loyola Marymount managed to put the pressure on at some points during the game. Possession evened out slightly in the second half: Cal outshot the Lions 6-1 in the first half, only managing a 6-4 margin in the second.

While the Bears came out with a win in that situation, handling their opponent's pressure proved to be a pitfall for their chances at perfect record when they played UC Irvine.

The Anteaters kept up goal for goal with the Cal, matching the second less than two minutes before the end of regulation play. Overtime remained scoreless.

Senior forward Alex Morgan scored her first two goals of the season, assisted by freshman Grace Leer and co-captain Emily Shibata.

While the Bears did not manage to start their regular season with the perfect record they had hoped for, the weekend will allow them to move forward with a direction to their improvements.

McGuire seems focused on team development in both these games and last weekend's exhibition match against Fresno State, in which he made sure every player saw about 30 minutes of playing time. The freshmen have figured prominently in the significant playing time they have been given, making plays on the offense and coordinating defensively.

"Definitely we've got some things to figure out, but we possess well, and I was really happy with how we played," Shibata said. "I'm one of those players who always believes there's somewhere to improve."


Contact Alex Matthews at [email protected]

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