Bears Lob Their Way Past Defending Champion Broncos

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Most teams would tremble at the thought of playing the defending national champion Santa Clara.

The No. 5 Cal women's soccer squad is not most teams.

Of the four losses the Broncos (3-2) have suffered in the past two seasons, the Bears (4-1-1) have accounted for two.

In the most recent of these victories, Cal defeated the visiting Broncos 2-1 Friday, behind two Brittany Kirk lob shots.

Two days later Cal faced its own nemesis in St. Mary's and survived a scare, tying the game in the final seconds of regulation, and holding on for a 1-1 draw against the Gaels (1-4-1).

Against the Broncos, however, the Bears dominated from the start.

"You have to give a lot of credit to the Cal team," Santa Clara coach Jerry Smith said. "They were a lot more aggressive than we were."

Kirk was a huge contributor in the Bears' victory. Two rainbow shots from the senior captain meant the difference in the game.

The first shot found its way over the head of Bronco goalie Erin Pearson to open the scoring in the 23rd minute.

"I was just trying to hit it hard towards the goal," Kirk said. "Shoot the ball and good things happen."

The second shot, less than two minutes later, deflected off the crossbar and was rebounded by teammate Tracy Hamm, who netted the shot.

"They put away their chances but I don't know if they could have repeated those shots," Smith said.

Santa Clara started the second half on fire, immediately putting pressure on the Cal defense.

"I don't think it was anything I said to them (at halftime)," Smith said of the Broncos' second-half surge. "They were just embarrassed by their lack of intensity in the first half."

The Santa Clara goal came on a penalty kick in the 55th minute when Bronco standout Aly Wagner was tripped just outside the Bears' penalty box.

Wagner had perfect placement of the ensuing penalty shot, pushing it to the right of the Bears' wall and just beyond the reach of Cal netminder Sani Post.

Sunday against St. Mary's, the Bears fell behind after nine minutes, but fought back to tie the Gaels in the last 20 seconds of the game.

"Coming into this game we didn't exactly play the way we wanted to play," captain Kim Yokers said. "But we hung in there."

Kirk worked her magic again against St. Mary's, taking a rebound from a Kassie Doubrava shot and beating the keeper with a header to spoil the Gaels' thoughts of upset.

"We did show a lot of character to come from behind and score a goal," Cal coach Kevin Boyd said.

The Bears have broken into the top five in the national rankings without the help of Laura Schott, their scoring leader for the last three seasons.

The two-time All-American is still recovering from a sprained MCL sustained in a Sept. 4 practice.

Senior defender Kim Stocklmeir is also out with a broken collarbone.

"Our team is working and winning as a team," Boyd said.


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