BERKELEY – The University of California women’s soccer team is set for a rematch with fourth-seeded, No. 8 Santa Clara in postseason action after clinching an at-large berth in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament, the NCAA announced Monday. The Golden Bears will face the Broncos Saturday at 1 p.m. at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara.
With an 11-4-5 regular season record, Cal clinched its 10th consecutive postseason bid and 21st appearance overall. The Bears have already faced the 14-4-1 Broncos once this year, settling for a 1-1 double overtime draw at Santa Clara. In that first contest, senior goalkeeper Emily Kruger (Woodside, Calif.) tallied a career-high 12 saves, and fellow senior Rachel Mercik (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) scored Cal’s lone goal.
Beyond this season’s play, the Bears and Broncos have a long shared history with 36 total meetings between the teams to date, including four in the postseason. Cal owns a 1-2-1 postseason record against Santa Clara, and the teams last met in NCAA action on Nov. 12, 2011, drawing in regulation before Cal won 4-3 in penalty kicks in the first round in Stanford. The Bears went on to face Boston College in the second round, losing 3-1 in penalty kicks.
The Golden Bears have an all-time postseason record of 14-19-13 and have advanced to at least the second round of the tournament seven of the last 10 seasons, and every year except 2008 since Neil McGuire became head coach in 2007. In 2012, Cal advanced out of the first round after beating Pepperdine 1-0 in Malibu, but fell in the second round 2-1 against San Diego State in San Diego.
The Bears closed out this year’s regular season with the program’s first win over Stanford in seven seasons thanks to a golden goal header by Mercik in overtime. She is one of three Cal players with six goals this season, also including sophomore Samantha Witteman (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and senior Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick (Pleasanton, Calif.). Sophomore Ifeoma Onumonu (Ranch Cucamonga, Calif.) leads Cal in points with 19 from eight goals and three assists, while Kruger has been solid in 17 games in goal with a 0.73 goals against average and 73 saves.
Cal is one of six Pac-12 teams to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Colorado and Washington State will play on Cal’s side of the 64-team bracket, while Stanford, Utah and No. 2-seed UCLA appear on the other side of the bracket.
The Cal-Santa Clara winner will face the winner of the Boston University-Harvard first-round match in the second round of action on Nov. 22.