Women's Soccer: Deacons Look To Put Hurt On Bears

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The No. 6 Cal women's soccer team is no stranger to a physical opponent.

Then again, it has yet to play Wake Forest this year.

The No. 7 Demon Deacons (9-0-1) have steadily gained a reputation across the nation for being tough and even describe their own style of play as blue-collar.

Tomorrow, the Bears (6-2-1) will have their shot at the beast from the East.

"They're extremely physical," Cal defender Ashley Valenzuela said. "It's going to be a tough game."

Midfielder Carly Fuller is confident that the Bears will be able to counter Wake Forest's aggressive style of play.

"One of our goals this year is to be tough," Fuller said. "I think we'll match up well."

The Demon Deacons, off to their best start since 1994, should have extra incentive to play well after losing to Cal two years ago.

In a game that went down to the wire, the Bears eventually prevailed by a 2-1 count.

"I'm sure they're looking for revenge," Valenzuela said.

This year's Wake team has excelled on both sides of the ball. The defense is allowing less than one goal per game and its offense is scoring close to three.

The Demon Deacons' attack is led by defender Katherine Winstead and forward Alena Thom, who have combined for 13 goals to lead the team.

In order to stop the duo, the Bears' defense will need a better performance than what it put together last week against Hartford and Penn.

The weekend stint saw the backline come unraveled, surrendering five goals over the two-game span.

"Giving up that many goals was pretty frustrating for us," Fuller said.

Kassie Doubrava knows that it will take more than wishful thinking to stop the streaking Demon Deacons.

"The keys are communication, possession and toughness," Doubrava said.

The Bears will need plenty of grit if they hope to bounce back against a Wake Forest team that owns the best record in a talented ACC Conference.

Cal doesn't expect the lack of focus that plagued it in last week's 3-1 loss to Hartford to recur Friday.

"I think the team already rebounded," Boyd said. "They reaffirmed where their focus was."

Doubrava concurs with her coach.

"We are turning the loss into a positive thing for us," Doubrava said. "I think not only are we playing better but our mental attitude is much improved."

All American forward Laura Schott looks to get more playing time against the Demon Deacons. After playing 15 minutes in each of last week's games, Schott looks to be steadily improving.

"Schott had an excellent practice today," Boyd said. "But it will be two more weeks before she's 100 percent."

Tomorrow's 3:30 kickoff will mark the Bears' first home game in three weeks, having played a stint against Bay Area rivals before last week's East coast swing.


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