Oct. 26, 2011
Friday, Oct. 28
7 p.m. (PST) - No. 22 Cal (11-4-2, 4-2-2 Pac-12) at Oregon (8-7-2, 3-4-1 Pac-12)
Pape Field - Eugene, Ore.
Series Record with the Ducks: 12-1-1
Last Meeting: W, 2-0 in Berkeley (Nov. 5, 2010)
Sunday, Oct. 30
1 p.m. (PST) - No. 22 Cal (11-4-2, 4-2-2 Pac-12) at Oregon State (12-4-1, 6-2-0 Pac-12)
Paul Lorenz Field - Corvallis, Ore.
Series Record with the Beavers: 17-2-1
Last Meeting: W, 1-0 (2OT) in Berkeley (Nov. 7, 2010)
BERKELEY - The No. 22 California women's soccer team will play its final three regular-season matches on the road, beginning with a pair of contests in Oregon this weekend. The Golden Bears will travel to Eugene to face Oregon on Friday at 7 p.m. before a Sunday matchup with Oregon State in Corvallis at 1 p.m.
Cal enters the weekend with an 11-4-2 overall record and a 4-2-2 mark in the Pac-12 Conference. The Bears are in fourth place in the league standings with 14 points. Oregon State is currently in second place, behind first-place Stanford, with 18 points. Oregon is in seventh place with 10 points.
Cal in the National Rankings
California is ranked No. 22 in the latest TopDrawerSoccer.com national poll and is receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) and Soccer Times polls. The Bears climbed as high as No. 11 in the national rankings (TopDrawerSoccer.com) during the week of Sept. 19-25.
Bears Getting Offensive
California has scored 37 goals in its 17 matches and is out-scoring its opponent 37-14 overall. The Bears have scored four or more goals in four matches this season and have produced six or more goals in a game twice in 2011 (7-0 vs. North Dakota State and 6-1 at San Francisco). Cal ranks second in the Pac-12 in points (6.12), goals (2.18) and assists (1.76). The Bears' 277 shots this season rank third in the conference.
Kruger Solid Between the Posts
Leading Scorer Lost for Season
Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Kruger has started all 17 matches for the Bears with a 0.84 goals-against average and six shutouts on the year. The sophomore net minder played all 90 minutes between the posts to record the shutout against Hawaii, Long Beach State, USC and Utah and played all 91 minutes in the shutout at Arizona and all 110 minutes in the shutout performance against No. 2 UCLA. She played the first 45 minutes of Cal's 7-0 victory over North Dakota State and all but 42 seconds due to injury in the 1-0 win against Arizona State, but NCAA rules require goalkeepers to play the full match to receive credit for a shutout. Kruger was the first to hold UCLA scoreless through the Bruins' first 12 matches of the season.
Cal senior forward Katie Benz
suffered a season-ending injury in the Santa Clara match on Sept. 25. The Sonoma, Calif. native led the Pac-12 Conference and was in the top-five nationally in scoring at the time of her injury. She recorded 10 goals and three assists in the 10 matches she played in this season. Benz played a scoring role in each of the first eight matches on the year with a goal in seven-straight contests prior to her injury. Despite having missed the last seven matches, the forward remains second in the Pac-12 in goals and third in the league overall points.
Mercik Emerging On Offense
Sophomore Rachel Mercik has stepped in to give Cal a spark offensively after Katie Benz's season-ending injury. The forward has scored four of the last eight California goals, dating back to the San Francisco match on Sept. 18.
She has netted a score against USC and Arizona and also owns goals at Washington and at USF. The sophomore is now fourth on the team in scoring with four goals and two assists. Ten of her 21 shots have come in the seven matches since Benz's injury.
Shutting Out the Competition
Cal has posted eight shutouts this season with sophomore goal keeper Emily Kruger credited with six of them. The Bears have held their opponent scoreless in four of their last five matches. Cal did not allow a goal from the second half of the Washington State match on Oct. 2 to the second half of the Colorado contest on Oct. 21, a span of 382 minutes and 43 seconds. The eight shutouts is the most since an 11-shutout season in 2007.
Cal Dominant at Edwards
Cal completed its regular-season home schedule with a 6-2-1 record. The Bears have lost just four of 23 matches in Berkeley over the last two seasons.
Cal has reached the double-digit mark in victories for the 23rd time in program history. With an 11-4-2 record, head coach Neil McGuire is on pace with the 2007 team - his inaugural season at the helm of the Bears - that captured 15 victories and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 2007 club owned a 12-5 record through 17 matches.
McGuire Climbs Victory Chart
With 11 victories this season, head coach Neil McGuire now has 56 career wins in his fifth season with the Golden Bears. McGuire's victory against USC on Oct. 9 moved him past Andy Bonchonsky (1991-96) and into third place on the school's all-time coaching victories list. He owns a 56-33-10 career record at Cal. McGuire enters the weekend five wins shy of second-place Bill Merrell, who posted a 61-20-8 record from 1983-85.
With 11 victories in their first 17 matches, the 2011 Golden Bears became the fastest to reach the 11-win mark since 2005. Cal's 2005 squad captured its 11th win after 15 matches with a 11-2-2 record. It is the best start for Cal in the Neil McGuire era.
Winning Streak Ends at Eight
The Golden Bears had their eight-match winning streak come to an end with a 3-0 setback at No. 21 Santa Clara on Sept. 25. The eight consecutive victories was the longest winning streak since 2000 when Cal opened the season with eight-straight wins. The Bears defeated San Diego State (2-1 in OT), North Dakota State (7-0), Hawaii (3-0), Kent State (5-1), Denver (4-2), Long Beach State (2-0), San Francisco (6-1) and Arizona State (1-0) during the streak. The lost to Santa Clara was Cal's first defeat since Aug. 19.
Last Week on the Pitch
Cal split its two matches against Pac-12 newcomers Colorado and Utah last weekend. The Bears rebounded from a 1-0 setback to the Buffaloes with a 2-0 victory over the Utes.
Senior Danielle Brunache and sophomore Mekenna DeBack each scored for Cal in Sunday's victory over Utah on Senior Day. Cal dominated possession throughout, out-shooting Utah, 21-2 overall. Sophomore goal keeper Emily Kruger was rarely tested, en route to her sixth shutout and the team's eighth shutout of the season.
California honored its six-member senior class of Katie Benz, Brunache, Katrin Omarsdottir, Kaitlin Paletta, Katie Suits and Miranda White in a ceremony prior to Sunday's contest. The Bears honored Benz, their senior co-captain who is out with a season-ending leg injury, with one last appearance on the field at Edwards Stadium. The forward was in uniform and started the contest. At the start of the match, Utah promptly kicked the ball out of bounds so Cal could sub for her and send her out with a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.
With under two minutes remaining in the opening period, the Bears finally broke through for a goal. Junior Betsy Hassett fed DeBack from near the top of the box and the sophomore hit a low-line drive shot that found the back left corner of the net for the score.
A hard foul inside the box from Utah resulted in a penalty kick for Cal in the second half and the coaching staff elected to have Brunache, their senior co-captain, take the shot. She calmly buried it for the two-goal lead.
The Bears' defense snarled the Utes' attack all afternoon. They did not surrender a shot attempt from Utah until the 83rd minute.
Despite out-shooting Colorado, 20-10, in Friday's contest, Cal suffered its second home last of the season as the Buffaloes scored in the 62nd minute. The loss snapped a three-match unbeaten streak for the Bears, who were held scoreless for just the fourth time in 16 matches this season.
The lone score of the match came midway through the second half. Colorado's Hayley Hughes and Kruger broke free for a loose ball at the top of the box with Hughes getting her foot on the ball before the two collided. The ball, meanwhile, soared into the air and landed in front of the open goal before it trickled into the empty net for the score.
The Bears aggressively fought to tie it up with seven shots over the final 25 minutes of the contest. Junior Samantha Walker rocketed a ball from 25 yards out that bounced off Colorado goal keeper Kayla Millar and ricocheted off the cross bar. An alert Grace Leer collected the bouncing ball and attempted a wild shot from close range that also bounced off the cross bar before being corralled by Colorado.
DeBack led the Bears with three shots, while Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Rachel Mercik, Miranda White, Thelma Bjork Einarsdottir, Walker and Leer had two apiece.
Kruger had two saves in goal for Cal, while Millar recorded six saves for Colorado.
A Look at Oregon
Oregon upended No. 18 Washington State in their previous match this past Sunday. The Ducks are unbeaten in their last three matches with a 3-1 victory over Colorado, a 1-1 tie with Washington and the win over Washington State. They have scored 18 goals in 17 matches this season. Junior Julie Armstrong leads Oregon offensively with four goals and three assists. Freshman goal keeper Abby Steele owns a 1.35 goals-against average with a .762 save percentage.
Last time vs. the Ducks
It took California 23 minutes and 24 seconds to establish a permanent lead over Oregon en route to a 2-0 win over the Ducks at Edwards Stadium. Freshman forward Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick scored her first career goal in the 24th minute and sophomore forward Lauren Battung tacked on an insurance score in the 83rd.
With fresh legs, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick scored less than 60 seconds after coming into the match in the 23rd minute on an Oregon goal kick. The ball had barely crossed midfield when the Bears regained control and sent the ball back from where it came.
Betsy Hassett passed to Samantha Walker, who was flanked by two Oregon defenders. Walker streaked down the sideline to take it the last length of the field on the nearside and crossed the ball into Fitzpatrick. With one touch, Fitzpatrick shot the ball into the back left corner for her first goal as a Golden Bear.
In the 83rd minute, Battung broke off from the pack with two Ducks chasing to go one on one with the keeper. Parlee fell on Battung's first shot, and they both fell entangled in a heap while the ball drifted towards the near side. Battung made chase, getting there well before Parlee, chipped it around the left post from the near side for the score.
With 23:39 to play, the Bears looked as if the game was moving to 2-0 when Katrin Omarsdottir put the ball into the lower right 90, but it was called back with Omarsdottir offside.
A Look at Oregon State
Oregon State is coming off a weekend sweep that included a 2-1 victory over No. 18 Washington State and a 4-1 win over Washington. The Beavers have won eight of their last 10 contests. Junior Chelsea Buckland has a team-best eight goals and three assists for 19 points on the year. Senior Colleen Boyd owns a 0.61 goals-against average with a .827 save percentage. She has recorded six shutouts on the season.
Last time vs. the Beavers
It was a freshman who came through to give her upperclassmen a win on Senior Day. With 105:36 expired on the clock, forward Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick netted the golden goal to power the California women's soccer team to a 1-0 overtime victory over No. 13 Oregon State at Edwards Stadium last season.
After 105 minutes of play, Megan Jesolva took a shot on goal from the far side that OSU goalkeeper Colleen Boyd saved. Fitzpatrick was there to collect the rebound and handily fire to the right side for the golden goal.
Oregon State outshot the Bears in the first half, 9-4, but that was the only time Cal would fall behind in shots. The Bears went on to outshot the Beavers, 6-3, in the second half and a collective 5-1 in the 15 minutes of overtime. McGuire aptly agreed with the difference in play that the box score reflected.
In addition to the first-rate performance from the Cal defense, the 105:36 minutes of scoreless play for the Beavers was due largely in part to goalkeeper Emily Kruger. She defied a relentless OSU attack, making nine saves. On the flip side, Beaver keeper Colleen Boyd made 11.
Next Week on the Pitch
Cal travels to Palo Alto to close its regular season with a 7 p.m. match at No. 1 Stanford next Saturday, Nov. 5.
DeBack on the Daily - A Cal Women's Soccer Blog
Periodically though this season, sophomore forward Mekenna DeBack will be gracing CalBears.com with a blog entitled DeBack on the Daily.
To read her blog, please click here.