Bears Cage Cougars 2-0

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After losing to UCLA, 1-0, in the 83rd minute and to USC, 5-4, in overtime last weekend, the Cal women's soccer team was determined not to give up this weekend's games against Washington and Washington State in the last minute. Prior to the games, coach Neil McGuire addressed this issue specifically, and the team had strategized accordingly.

"Tempo is the word. If we keep our offensive movement, sometimes that's the best defense," sophomore Lauren Battung said. "Keep attacking until the last minute."

On Friday, Battung was attacking until the last second to make up for the Bears' last minute defensive lapses. As the game entered the ninetieth minute, Washington junior Sarah Martinez evened the score, 2-2, off a corner kick.

When Cal kicked off with less than a minute on the clock, overtime seemed inevitable. But with about ten seconds remaining on the clock, Battung took an unlikely chance on a free kick. She launched the ball past a pack of Huskies that had barely given her 10 feet, much less 10 yards, and it floated into the upper right corner.

Although co-captain Emily Shibata emphasized the importance of playing the game all the way to the end earlier this week, at that point, the game was over for the Bears. In spite of the four seconds Washington had for their final kickoff, which at that point was, literally, a long shot, Cal had rushed the field to celebrate.

In spite of the euphoric finish, the rest of the Washington game wasn't a highlight for the Bears' weekend.

"Over the course of the ninety minutes, I think Washington was the better team," McGuire said. Cal's performance picked up in the second half, but for the first 45 minutes, the team that has outshot opponents by a total 208-117 this season, was virtually unrecognizable. The first half saw six shots on Cal's net and only one on the Huskies.

"We were just outplayed in every capacity in the first half," McGuire said.

Battung foreshadowed her game-making performance early in the second half, when the Bears changed their offensive system and she tested the Huskies' net with five shots.

Cal played a more complete game in their 2-0 victory over the Cougars on Sunday.

After the scoreless first half, the Bears continued their fairly consistent pressure on Washington State's defense, and in the 51st minute it paid off, when midfielder Katrin Omarsdottir volleyed sophomore Sam Walker's cross into the lower left corner for her first goal of the season.

Most of Cal's best chances were from the periphery of the field. When co-captain Alex Morgan's cross didn't find feet on frame, senior Megan Jesolva was on the left to put the ball back in the goal, where it found Morgan's head and the back of the net.

"We knew that we have speed on the outside, we have speed up top," Battung said. "We knew we could win those 50/50 battles if we just got around the corner."

In the spirit of continuing to attack even with an advantage, the Bears continued their dangerous crosses until the clock ran out.


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

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