Off the Beat: Finding the Right Words





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William Shakespeare should have been a sportswriter. Sports has all the drama, villainy, suspense and comedy that the undisputed master of the English language filled his plays with. I shouldn't say undisputed, though, as some would argue that former Cal linebacker Sekou Sanyika may have a better grasp of the tongue.

After all, who could have better summed up 20 years of Cal football failure in Pullman, Wash., home of Washington State, than Sanyika, when he simply said, "Fuck Pullman"? Were Shakespeare present for that poignant phrase, he would have smiled with pride.

The only downside to sports, from Shakespeare's perspective, is that the athletes don't kill each other at the end of the game. But I still think Shakespeare would be handy to have around the sports desk.

Without delay, then, a look at the weekend. . . with a Shakespearian perspective:

We need a man like Shakespeare to come up with a word to describe the Cal women's soccer team's 12-0 win over No. 25 James Madison.

All I could come up with was, "daaaaaaaaaa-mn," and that won't do at all for all practical purposes. So thus begins my search for the word that can describe this game in which one team outscores the other by 12 goals in a sport in which 0-0 ties are common place.

To put it in context, the Bears beat the Dukes Friday afternoon by four field goals. They also beat them by six slam dunks, a septuple-bogey on a par five, three takedowns and two near-falls in folk-style wrestling, or - ready for this? - a double six in darts. That's right, a double six. Or a triple four. Yowza.

But, as difficult a task it may seem to describe the win, the players involved in the victory gave it a shot anyway.

"We were just on fire," sophomore midfielder Lee Ann Morton said. "At halftime we said we're going to set another goal for ourselves and score another six, seven, whatever it's going to take to bury this team."

Cal came out in the second half and put James Madison so far underground that it could have been a monster in a Jules Verne novel. The Bears scored seven more goals in the second half to add to their first-half total of five.

Their dozen goals broke the school record for goals scored in a game, while striker Laura Schott broke a school record for points with nine (4 goals, 1 assist).

So, after beating a nationally ranked team by such an amount, one has to wonder how far Cal can go. Upon news of the weekend's results, coaches ranked the Bears at No. 25, displacing the fourth President. I guess they expect Cal to knock in a BILLION goals in one game before they rank them higher than that.

Coming into the season, the Bears had a highly touted recruiting class. Mix that with a large pool of returning talent from last year's team, and they may be on to something.

In goal, well, it can be assumed that the position is solid this season. Sure, goalkeeper Maite Zabala will break the school record for career shutouts -probably by this afternoon - but Cal's goalies have had to make a whopping total of seven saves in three games this year. There's little doubt that the veteran Zabala will be anything less than solid in goal. Whether or not the Bears will ever need her is.

In both of Cal's games over the weekend, Bears coach Kevin Boyd was able to sub in almost every player in his roster - and they were all scored. . . or at least played very well. Boyd's team has the depth, has the talent and has the experience that a national championship-caliber team requires. And, most importantly, they have the corny intangible - they believe in themselves.

"In the past we've questioned ourselves," senior goalkeeper Maite Zabala said. "We know if we put all we have into it, then (a national championship) is fair game."

On the field, the Bears are a team that is a joy to watch. Sunday, against a Navy side more loaded defensively than than a women's basketball game, Cal found seams to move the ball, and with an almost Brazil-like style, kept the ball in the Midshipmen's half just about all of the game, winning it, 1-0. In three games Cal has outshot its opponents, 56-14. So far, the Bears certainly look like a title contender.

"Every year we've gotten better," Boyd said. "It's taken some time for us to put in the mental attitude that we really want. I think they're capable of doing what they decide to do. This team can go as far as they want to go."

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