March 16, 2012
BERKELEY - The California women's soccer team opened its spring schedule with a pair of victories last Saturday, March 10, at Golden Bear Field on the Berkeley campus.
"We were pleased with the energy and enthusiasm in our first competition of the spring," said Cal head coach Neil McGuire. "We had a nice balance with everyone logging at least 45 minutes over the two matches."
Cal began the day against Cal State Stanislaus. The Bears got on the board in the 14th minute with as Mekenna DeBack scored off a Kate Bennett corner kick to give Cal the early advantage. California continued to control possession and a little over 10 minutes later Grace Leer punched in an unassisted score to push the lead to 2-0.
Cal State Stanislaus converted a penalty kick in the 41st minute to get on the board just before the break.
The Bears continued to create a number of strong scoring opportunities against the Warriors, the defending California Collegiate Athletic Association Champions, in the second half, however the final 45 minutes remained scoreless as Cal defeated Cal State Stanislaus, 3-1.
Following a brief break, Cal turned its attention to its second match of the day as the Bears faced the California Storm of the Women's Premier Soccer League.
Cal played an even first half against the Storm, mostly comprised of former national team players and youth national team players, including Aly Wagner, who was a standout for the United States National Team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
The Bears had several solid scoring opportunities in the opening half, highlighted by an Emi Lawson header that sailed just high of the cross bar.
Hassett put Cal up 1-0 as the 2011 All-Pac-12 midfielder scored her second goal of the day on a breakaway.
Goalkeeper Emily Kruger made a tremendous save off a well-struck free kick from near midfield by Sissi, the Storm's standout midfielder and a former member of the Brazil Women's National Team.
Sacramento recorded the equalizer in the 60th minute, scoring off a deflection to tie the match.
With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Cal continued to be aggressive in the final third and the Bears were rewarded with a corner kick in the 88th minute. The shot landed inside the box, causing a scramble and an alert Leer corralled the free ball and punched in the winning score to give Cal the 2-1 win - its second victory of the day.
"It was great to see this team rise to the challenge against a very good and experienced squad of professionals and national team players to score in the final minutes," McGuire said. "We were very active in the final third and were rewarded with an opportunity. I was pleased with the way we capitalized on those opportunities."
The Bears will continue their spring slate of action this Sunday, March 18 in Moraga where they will face Saint Mary's at 9 a.m. at Garaventa Field.