NEWS & NOTES:
- Cal’s 12-game unbeaten streak is the best since 2000 and only the fifth time in program history that the team has gone unbeaten through 12 or more games. Cal’s other unbeaten streaks came in 1986 (14), 1987 (16), 1993 (13) and 2000 (12).
- Both Cal soccer programs are unbeaten in 2013. The top-ranked Cal men are 7-0-2, and Cal is the only school in the country with both men’s and women’s programs undefeated.
- The Golden Bears have yet to allow an opponent to score in the first half.
BERKELEY – In one of Cal’s best starts in program history, the No. 11/15 Golden Bears (9-0-3, 2-0-1 Pac-12) remain unbeaten this season after posting a 2-1 win over the Arizona Wildcats (5-4-3, 0-3 Pac-12) Sunday afternoon at Goldman Field at Edwards Stadium. The win marks only the fifth time in the program’s 32-year history that Cal has gone unbeaten through 12 or more games.
“We traveled to Utah last Friday, played at San Francisco on Monday and Arizona State this Friday, so to get three wins and a tie in the span of nine days – the players should be very proud of themselves,” said head coach Neil McGuire.
The Golden Bears put together their most complete performance of the season in the first half, outshooting the Wildcats 11-3 while scoring once and getting three more shots within frame.
Cal scored just three minutes into the game when senior Nina Pederson (Silkeborg, Denmark) found an open senior Rachel Mercik (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) at the right side of Arizona’s half of the field. Mercik slotted the ball in and out as a Wildcat defender barely got a foot on it before Mercik broke away and touched it into the back left post.
From then on out, the Golden Bears played a stout defense, applying pressure on Arizona’s service and challenging entry passes to limit the normally fast-forwarding offense’s scoring chances.
“In the first 45 minutes, we played as good as we’ve played the whole season,” McGuire said.
Arizona came back from the half with adjustments that proved problematic to the Bears just six minutes in when the team’s leading scorer, Jazmin Ponce, scored her seventh goal of the season. Ponce took a ball from the left side of the field and shot into the far right post to tie the game up.
It looked like the Bears would take the lead again at 60:39 when sophomore Ifeoma Onumonu (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) was fouled and awarded a penalty kick, but Onumonu’s ball sailed wide right to keep the game tied at 1-1.
The striker made up for it in the 72nd minute, playing a ball to senior Genessee Daughetee (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who crossed it back to Onumonu from the left corner of the field. Onumonu came in at the front left post and tapped it into the net.
“I knew I had to make up for it once I missed that penalty kick,” Onumonu said.
The Bears survived the scare for the 2-1 victory, ultimately outshooting Arizona 23-9 as Wildcat keeper Gabby Kaufman made eight saves. Cal goalie Emily Kruger (Woodside, Calif.) notched four saves, upping her season total to 49.
“I think we performed well,” Onumonu said. “We’ve been struggling a bit in keeping intensity through the whole game, but I think today we kept the pressure up and played well. Our passes were better and we got a good result, so I’m happy.”
Cal continues its challenging conference slate at home next weekend, hosting USC on Friday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m. and UCLA on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m. Both games will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
ARIZ 8 (Kaufman, Gabby 8), California 4 (Kruger, Emily 4)