Things are looking up for the Cal women’s soccer team after it had a quick turnaround from a rocky introduction with the UC Irvine Anteaters Aug. 18 this season. This past week, the Bears have managed not one, but two major wins in their nonconference slate against Saint Mary’s and UC San Diego.
On Sept. 1, Cal will once again be put to the test against University of San Francisco, a longtime steamrolled rival of Cal’s, and host Pepperdine on Sept. 4 at Edwards Stadium.
University of San Francisco and Cal have an extensive history, with Cal’s longest win streak being eight wins against the team from 2006 to 2016. This streak was momentarily paused by a 2017 1-0 loss to the Dons, but then recontinued with a breezy 1-0 win in 2021.
The Bears may face some fresh competition with the freshmen recently initiated into the Dons, such as their forward Lindsey Chau, who has already scored two goals in the four games that she’s played so far. Along with that, junior goalkeeper Megan Nail just performed her second clean sheet of the Dons’ season against UC Davis, with a striking nine total saves.
However, San Francisco is yet again facing the Bears’ sophomore forwards Karlie Lema and Ari Manrique, both of whom straddled the Dons’ defense easily in the 2021 season, their aggressiveness keeping the Dons at bay.
Cal had performed a complete shutout against San Francisco and ended the game with a 1-0 win. With a majority of the last season’s Cal team returning for play Thursday, University of San Francisco will be seeing many familiar faces that were able to snatch the win away last season.
Soon after their match against University of San Francisco, the Bears will host Pepperdine Sunday at 2 p.m. Cal hasn’t been pitted against the Pepperdine Waves during the season since 2013, when it did not move on to the next round through the penalty shootout after the teams tied double overtime. The Waves have so far gone 3-0-1 in their nonconference slate, showing promise as a new challenge for the Bears.
For its 2022 season so far, Pepperdine ranks at No. 2 within the West Coast Conference division. With Cal’s previous opponent St. Mary’s ranking at No. 8 in the same division, a win for the Bears against the Waves may not be as easy as their matches against St. Mary’s and UC San Diego.
In fact, Pepperdine has already drowned the San Diego Tritons with a score of 1-0. Cal is 1-1-4 all-time against Pepperdine.
Pepperdine has some competition in the works for Cal with its forward Leyla McFarland recently ranked on the list of College Soccer News Women’s National Team of the Week after she clutched the winning shot against UC San Diego earlier this month. McFarland has already made two out of her three shots this season.
Cal may repel Pepperdine’s offense with defenders such as Kailee Gifford, who returned to her roots at Cal this season after spending last season playing for Pepperdine. Cal’s defense overall is looking strong — The Bears have allowed six shots on goal out of 12 total so far this season.
The playing field is starting to even out for Cal as the Bears settle into the new season. Even after kicking the season off with a loss, Cal has only strived for better as shown by its two straight wins in the last week.