Oct. 21, 2012
Score: No. 12 Cal 3, Washington State 2
BERKELEY - The No. 12 Golden Bears caged the Cougars of Washington State 3-2 on Sunday afternoon at Edwards Stadium. California struck first - just seconds after kickoff - and last for the second game in a row to overpower WSU, which scored twice but could not muster a third goal.
"It was a game that could have gone either way," Cal head coach Neil McGuire said. "Washington State is very talented, well-coached, disciplined and difficult to play against. I think with our energy over the course of 90 minutes, we possibly deserved to get the result in the end, but it could have gone either way. They came in on the road and really gave us problems. We want to be battle-tested as we move to the NCAA Tournament, and this was certainly one of those games."
Cal got on the board in the quickest of manners. Ifeoma Onumonu and Rachel Mercik teamed up for the kickoff and passed the ball back to Emi Lawson. Lawson fired a rocket across the field and into the goal for the Bears to pull ahead 1-0 just five seconds into the match.
"During introductions, we recognized that the wind was fairly strong," McGuire said. I pulled two strikers and Emi to the side, and we just drew up a very short interaction between the two strikers and then a ball laid back to Emi. I asked her to hit the ball as hard as she could. The worst it could be was for it to go to their hands and we'd work it from there, and the best obviously was the result that we got. You don't see that very often. Emi struck it as pure as you could strike it."
Washington State equalized on a set piece in the 26th minute, when Nicole Setterlund put the ball to the left side after Mesa Owsley crossed it in. The teams took the halftime break tied, 1-1. Less than five minutes into the second half, WSU went up 2-1 thanks to a header by Korynn Blanksma.
In the 64th minute, Ifeoma Onumonu dribbled the ball down the field, sprinting past three Cougar defenders. The WSU keeper came out of the goal - eliciting cheers from the season-high 715 fans in attendance - and Onumonu went cross-cage with a shot to the right side.
"Ife's composure is actually quite exceptional for being such a young player," McGuire said. "She's not fazed by much. She and all of our freshmen work as hard as they can. The senior leadership is allowing our freshmen to flourish because there are no nerves. They play for each other, and as a result, I think we're getting a great response from everybody."
With the teams tied 2-2 in the 67th, Samantha Walker chipped the ball into Onumonu, who put it in the back right corner for her 10th goal of the year.
"Ifeoma took those goals very well," McGuire said. "We made adjustments coming out of halftime hopeful that she would get those opportunities because we believe she's got those qualities."
With the Washington weekend complete, Cal has now won its past seven Pac-12 games and its last eight overall games. On a 13-game scoring streak, the Bears have scored more than one goal in the past eight games and three goals in four of the past six matches.
Next Week on the Pitch:
Cal hits the road for two matches in the City of Angels. On Oct. 26, Cal faces off against UCLA in a Pac-12 Networks broadcast. Oct. 28 will see the Bears fight the Trojans of USC at 1 p.m.