This is Samantha Witteman’s first career hat trick.
Cal’s last hat trick came on Aug. 19, 2012 vs. San Jose State off of three goals from Grace Leer.
Cal has not allowed opponents to score a single goal in the first half.
Witteman now leads the Golden Bears with 15 points from six goals and three assists.
BERKELEY - Sophomore Samantha Witteman (Redondo Beach, Calif.) found net three times as the No. 12/17 California women's soccer team surged to victory with a 4-2 win over St. Mary's Sunday at Goldman Field. The Golden Bears remain undefeated with a 6-0-2 record, while the Gaels are now 3-7-0.
The Bears dominated possession of the ball for nearly all 90 minutes, outshooting St. Mary’s 22-7 and forcing Gael goalie Kaeli Schmidt to make eight saves. The team opened the match with intensity as sophomore Ifeoma Onumonu drove a ball into the upper right of the night over Schmidt’s head on a throw-in, making the score 1-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.
Cal jumped out to a 2-0 lead when Witteman came off the bench near the 24-minute mark. Junior Taylor Comeau (Los Gatos, Calif.) crossed a ball to Witteman, who pulled wide near the top of the 18 and dribbled the ball in near the post.
The Bears entered halftime with a 2-0 lead, keeping their streak of holding opponents scoreless through the first period intact while creating 10 chances and limiting St. Mary’s to only two.
“We started very strong, kept the ball well and created some good goal scoring opportunities,” said California head coach Neil McGuire.
The Gaels nearly spoiled Cal’s unbeaten streak in the latter half of the game with two unanswered goals to tie the game up. Less than two minutes into the second half, Briana Campos brought a ball up the middle then crossed it to the right, finding Vicki Shimkus, who relayed the ball to Melissa Madrid to put it in the net as Cal goalie Emily Kruger dove to make a block in the box.
The complacency continued, allowing Gael Melinda Madden the equalizer as she shot from the top of the box with no one around at 61:54.
“We knew they would come out with intensity in the second half and we had to match it, but we didn’t and as a result they scored two goals. They were the better team in the first 15 minutes,” McGuire said.
The Bears reorganized and set up a number of solid shots before Witteman finally put an end to the scare. Comeau and Witteman tag-teamed again as Comeau powered a ball between the posts. Schmidt got a touch on the ball and deflected it out but Witteman volleyed it back and found net.
She added an insurance goal at 80:12 on a cross to the right from senior Genessee Daughetee (Huntington Beach, Calif.), running onto the ball and popping it up over the defense and to the back post. The three goals marked Witteman’s first career hat trick, less than a month after she scored her first collegiate goal vs. Detroit on Aug. 27.
“It was crazy feeling. I never thought in my college career that I would have a hat trick,” she said.
Witteman is enjoying a breakthrough season, soaring to the top of the Cal leaders chart with 15 points, including a team-high six goals (tied with Onumonu) plus three assists.
“Sam’s fun to watch and is super talented,” McGuire said. “She has so many skills that are so fun for the team because she can create goals and she can score goals and I’m really, really happy that she’s having a lot of fun on the field because she helped the team tremendously today.”
Next up, Cal will open Pac-12 play against Utah in Salt Lake City on Friday at 6:30 p.m. PT.