Cal Seeks Sweet Vengeance Against Huskies

Photo: Senior forward Alex Morgan returned from her national team stint and scored a hat trick in 12 minutes against USC last weekend. Her presence gives the Bears a needed boost.
Anna Vignet/File
Senior forward Alex Morgan returned from her national team stint and scored a hat trick in 12 minutes against USC last weekend. Her presence gives the Bears a needed boost.

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Just a week after its first two conference losses, the 2009 Cal women's soccer team was hoping for some redemption with a trip north to take on Washington and Washington State.

The Bears didn't find their redemption. Their close losses to UCLA and USC were chased by equally close losses to the Huskies and Cougars the next weekend.

A year later, Cal is in almost the same position, this time on their home turf. The Bears are returning to Edwards Stadium from a trip to Los Angeles that started with a 1-0 loss to the Bruins and ended with a tie-breaking fifth goal from the Trojans in the fifth minute of overtime.

"We didn't come to play," senior Emily Shibata said of last year's matches in Washington. "We can't come out thinking this is a light game 'cause it's not at all. It's revenge time."

Cal will need that drive for revenge in lieu of the momentum they have lost since their four-game winning streak turned into a five-game winless streak.

If revenge from last year, or the recent absence of success for the Bears isn't enough motivation, their drop from the NCAA rankings might be.

While the Huskies and Cougars aren't ranked like the SoCal opponents the Bears visited last weekend, they still represent formidable Pac-10 competition.

Washington (9-3-1, 2-0 in the Pac-10) has outscored opponents by a total of 27-11, the exact stat Cal boasted prior to last weekend's losses. Washington State (6-7-0, 1-1-0) started this season nationally ranked and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year.

Cal will therefore need to use its first two conference games as material to work from if they want to repair its 0-2 Pac-10 record.

"We're giving up goals in the last couple of minutes and we need to play the game all the way through," Shibata said. "We're getting too complacent towards the end of the game."

With a threat like Washington midfielder Kate Deines, defensive complacency could make the difference for Cal. The 2009 All-Pac-10 senior has scored seven goals and made one assist this season.

While the Huskies' strongest attacker is in the twilight year of her college career, Washington State's biggest scoring threat is just beginning hers. In her first 13 games, Cougar freshman Micaela Castain has racked up 13 points, six goals and one assist.

Yet Cal's worries will be the smallest defensive concerns on the field. Senior forward Alex Morgan has scored 13 goals and made one assist this year, in spite of having been absent in three of the Bears' last four games.

Morgan made for her absence with a hat trick in 12 minutes against USC in her first game back after a two-week national team training camp. Now, Morgan is focused on the task at hand.

"I'm back with my team, and this is my priority right now," she said.


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

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