Women's Soccer Suffers First Defeat of the Season

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The lackluster starts finally caught up to them.

After managing to overcome numerous slow starts this season, the No. 7 Cal women's soccer team tasted defeat for the first time yesterday against No. 9 Washington, falling in the final minutes, 2-1, before a boisterous Huskies crowd.

The Bears overcame a poor start Friday to beat Washington State, 2-1, in their Pac-10 opener.

For the first time this season goalie Maite Zabala and the Bears defense proved vulnerable in the final minutes. Yesterday, with under three minutes left, Huskies reserve Melissa Bennett took advantage of a rebounded ball off Zabala and put it away from eight yards out for the game-winner.

"Unfortunately that happens sometimes," Cal coach Kevin Boyd said. "Everybody makes mistakes."

It was an unexpected end for the Bears, who had rebounded from yet another stagnant first half to take control in the second period.

After trailing 1-0 at the intermission, Cal (11-1-1, 1-1 in the Pac-10) quickly tied the game thanks to yet another goal from All-America candidate Laura Schott.

Early in the second half, Schott took advantage of a Kim Yokers shot that bounced off the highbar. The striker was in position to put it away and tie the score at one apiece.

Unfortunately for the Bears, the winning goal would not be Cal's.

The Huskies (11-1, 2-0 in the Pac-10) withstood the Bears' intense offensive pressure and took advantage of a slip by Cal's defense to emerge with the win.

For Boyd, the ending was a frustrating one.

"We played very well in the second half," Boyd said. "We completely outplayed them."

Friday, Cal opened up Pac-10 play against WSU by overcoming a sluggish first half to dominate in the second stanza for the win.

"The first half was quite even," Boyd said. "We weren't on our game. We weren't playing badly, but we weren't playing great."

The lone bright spot of the first half came when Schott followed up her three-goal performance last Sunday against San Diego with the first of the two goals that proved to be the difference in the game.

The first came just eleven minutes into the match when midfielder Kim Stocklmeir laced the ball over the defense to Schott, who put it past Cougars goalkeeper Sara Leibowitz.

Despite leading 1-0, the Bears were unable to get in sync in the first half. WSU outshot Cal 10-9 in the first 45 minutes of play.

"At halftime, we discussed the things that we needed to do better," Boyd said. "We came out and played great. We completely dominated."

Indeed, to see evidence of the Bears control over the second half, one need look no further than the stat sheet. Cal outshot the Cougars 14-2 in the second period.

Yet WSU was able to score the equalizer in the 54th minute on a nice breakaway by forward Deka DeWitt.

Fortunately for the Bears, one of their 14 second half shots found the back of the net. Schott scored her second goal of the day from 15 yards out by taking advantage of a well-placed pass by sophomore midfielder Brittany Kirk.

With three goals in the past two games and seven in the past four, Schott has been nothing short of amazing. Her goal Sunday tied her with Cal alumnus and Olympian Joy Fawcett's record of 17 in one season. Schott has 35 points on the year, good enough for fourth-best in the school recordbooks.

With seven regular season games left to go, Schott could easily rewrite many pages in the Cal record book before the season is over.

As for those remaining games, the challenge now for Cal is to regroup after its first loss of the season. Sunday was also the first time the vaulted Bears defense had surrendered two goals in a game this year.

In addition, Cal needs to figure out how to counter its trend of weak first halves. With the Pac-10 season underway now, the Bears can't afford to rely on strong second-half performances to compensate for poor starts.

"We need to start games better is the bottom line," Boyd said.


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