STANFORD – California displayed a gritty performance Sunday afternoon in an effort to post an upset, but No. 4 Connecticut was able to notch a goal in the final 10 minutes to run away with a 2-1 victory at Stanford’s Varsity Turf to end the season-opening weekend.
In a game televised by the Pac-12 Networks, the two teams entered the half tied at 1-1, but it was the Huskies who were able to notch the game-winning goal in the 60th minute. Senior Jordan O’Reilly scored her first goal of the season for the Bears and was assisted by classmate Shannon Elmitt as the short-handed Bears end a strong weekend against two tough east coast opponents with a 1-1 record.
“I think we were on par with them and Stanford in the top 10, but we missed an opportunity today to show it to the country today,” California head coach Shellie Onstead said. “We played well. I’m down two important players and can’t be too upset. That’s two games in a row that the defense played great. Courtney (Hendrickson) was great in goal for the second game as well. “
The Bears were without strikers junior Lara Kruggel – the reigning NorPac Offensive Player of the Year – and redshirt sophomore Nicole Wallstedt for the second consecutive game, but the rest of the Bears were up to task. Hendrickson came up big for the second consecutive game with seven saves, and the defensive line of Allie Swartz, Natalie Gibbons, Clara Goni and Michaela Swensen kept the fourth-ranked Huskies at bay throughout the day.
Offensively, Cal was efficient with all six shots they took going on frame. After UConn scored the first goal of the game at 16:10 thanks to a strong drive by Marie Elena Bolles, Cal responded in the 30th with a flurry of shots in ront of goal before Elmitt’s cross to O’Reilly was knocked in to even the game at 29:52.
The Huskies earned the decisive goal at 59:19 when Chloe Hunnable tapped in Olivia Bolles’s cross to keep the Huskies undefeated at 2-0.
Overall, UConn held a 13-6 shot advantage and were awarded seven penalty corners compared to zero for the Bears.
“Our circle penetrations were very high, and we got caught and couldn’t get them off,” Onstead said. “We should’ve found a way to win some corners.”
The Bears return to action Friday with the home opener at Maxwell Family Field against Dartmouth. That match is scheduled to air live on the Pac-12 Networks at 4 p.m.