Sept. 23, 2011
BERKELEY - Redshirt freshman Grace Leer recorded her second goal in as many matches to lead the No. 11 California women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over Arizona State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams Friday afternoon in front of 337 fans at Edwards Stadium. With the win, the Bears extended their winning streak to eight matches and improved to 8-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
The eight consecutive victories is Cal's longest winning streak since 2000 when the Bears opened the season with eight-straight wins.
"We have to credit Arizona State, we knew they were injured coming into the game and they played with tremendous spirit," said Cal head coach Neil McGuire. "Coach [Kevin] Boyd has them very well organized and very dangerous. I feel fortunate that we were able to get out of the match with a win. Anytime you can win your opener in the conference you have to feel fortunate.
"I felt like in the second half we were able to put the ball on the floor and try and move the ball a little bit more," McGuire continued. "Arizona State did a very good job of disrupting the play and quite frankly was the better team in the first half. In second half we were able to move the ball and get all facets of the offense in the attack. We were able to create opportunities and it paid off for us."
The Golden Bears and Sun Devils (4-5, 0-1 Pac-12) played even through the first half with Cal taking a 4-3 edge in shots into the break. Freshman Sandra Ley was inserted for the final eight minutes of the opening half and provided the Bears' best scoring opportunity just before the break with a close-range shot that sailed just wide of the post.
California took charge in the second half, attacking the goal early and often. Shortly into the second period, senior Katie Benz rocketed a shot from 20 yards out just high of the cross bar. Three minutes later, junior Lauren Battung drilled a shot that bounced off the cross bar.
Senior Miranda White provided the Bears' next scoring opportunity, connecting on a shot from 25 yards out that sailed just high of the goal.
Cal's perseverance on the attack finally paid off in the 74th minute. Battung set things up as the junior worked off her defender and delivered a cross into the box for Katie Suits. She connected on a shot from five yards out that ricocheted off Arizona State goalie Alyssa Gillmore. An alert Leer was right there, corralling the loose ball off the line and punching it in for the score.
"Lauren Battung sent a great ball in to Suits and she had a great finish, the goalie made the same and I was lucky to be there," said Leer. "The ball was trickling on the line and I knew I had to go follow it and tap it in to finish it off."
It was the second goal in as many matches for the redshirt freshman, who was playing in her first career conference game.
The Bears continued to control possession throughout the match to seal the shutout victory. They out-shot the Sun Devils 13-9 in the match with nine of those shots coming in the second period.
Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Kruger posted a pair of saves without allowing a goal, while Gillmore recorded three saves for the Sun Devils.
Cal will travel to No. 21 Santa Clara Sunday for a noon match with the Broncos at Buck Shaw Stadium.