Cal Hopes to Break Streak Of Ties With Home Invite

Photo: Junior defender Danielle Brunache played in all 21 games for the Bears last season. She'll be pivotal this weekend as Cal hosts the California Invitational at Edwards Stadium.
Michael Restrepo/File
Junior defender Danielle Brunache played in all 21 games for the Bears last season. She'll be pivotal this weekend as Cal hosts the California Invitational at Edwards Stadium.

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While the Cal women's soccer team wasn't unhappy with their 0-0 overtime tie against Santa Clara last weekend, it's a result they hope not to repeat.

"I'm sick of ties," sophomore Samantha Walker said.

This weekend, the Bears will host the California Invitational, playing Rice on Friday and Hawaii on Sunday.

After out-shooting the Broncos, 18-5, only to emerge with a tie, the Bears are focusing on getting the ball to the back of the net.

"There's no doubt that we want to try to create more offensive output and try and actually turn some of these shots and offensive dominance into goals," coach Neil McGuire said.

As these games have little effect on the rest of the team's season, McGuire said he sees the tournament as an opportunity for development.

The Bears will focus on accommodating their tactical approach to both Rice and Hawaii's different styles. Cal will need to prepare for a spread-out offense and long passes on the Owls' attacking front.

Meanwhile, they will need to contain the Rainbow Wahine's speed by defending them in tight spaces.

Yet, while the Bears have some understanding of how to approach these games, one of the biggest risks could be unfamiliarity.

Cal is 1-0 against both teams in the all-time record, a statistic that means little to the 2010 squad given that the Bears last faced Rice in 2005 and Hawaii in 2001.

Because both teams are from regions in which Cal rarely plays, there aren't many common opponents for the team to use as a point of reference.

The only one that does exist is Stanford, which the Rainbow Wahine fell to, 6-2, last year. Such an abysmal loss to one of Cal's conference opponents could give the Bears' confidence had their 4-1 loss to Stanford last year not been such a similar margin.

Both Rice and Hawaii are unranked, a stark reversal from the No. 5 Broncos whom the Bears faced last weekend.

In spite of the difficulties of charting uncharted waters, the Bears have confidence in their ability to come away with their first win in three games this weekend.

"Any game's a challenge, but we should put them away really," Walker said.

McGuire is looking for his team to exude that kind of confidence about their own performance and avoid focusing on the other team. Preventing complacency is key since both teams are fairly unknown in the sphere of elite college soccer.

"We're gonna focus on the ideas of what we think we can be successful at, so we're trying to compete against ourselves in terms of our optimal performance," he said.

"Doing it that way means the players are evaluating what we're doing based on us as opposed to worrying about other teams, and I think that can be helpful for any set of games on any weekend."


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

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