After finishing the Pac-12 season with a bang and tying 1-1 with Bay Area rival and Pac-12 Champion, Stanford, the Bears move on to face old and new opponents in the NCAA Tournament to determine the Division I women’s national champion. With a conference record of 5-3-3, the Bears broke through the top four threshold for the first time since 2015 as Cal finished the season ranked fourth in the Pac-12.
The Bears will play against Santa Clara on Saturday, Nov. 12 on the Broncos hometurf. Earlier in the season, these two opponents competed in a match that ended in a 1-0 blue and gold victory, swinging the odds in favor for Cal. Cal stands with a better overall score than Santa Clara with 10-4-6, compared to the Broncos’ 10-6-3. When comparing conference scores, Santa Clara stands on top with 7-0-2 , in contrast to a Cal 5-3-3. Anysa Gray recorded her only goal of the season against the Broncos with the help of Karlie Lema and Cal will count on this duo to repeat their stellar performance once more.
Three Bears were named to the All-Pac-12 Second Team for their performance during the regular season. Senior team captain, Sydney Collins gained this honor through her crucial role in Cal’s defense this season, stopping numerous goals from getting close to the keeper. Last season, Collins was named to the All-Pac-12 Third Team. She started in all 20 matches this season and logged the second-most minutes of any team member this season.
Sophomore superstar Ayo Oke acquired her second career Pac-12 postseason honor following a recognition on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team last season. Oke finished the season with the most assists, locking in nine. Not only does she lead her team in assists but also the conference, as well as ranking 15th nationally. Oke has been a force to be reckoned with as she represented the U.S. at the Sud Ladies Cup in Aubagne, France over the summer and earned the call-up to the U-20 side of the U.S. national team for the World Cup competition and helped Team USA earn their cup title.
Senior Keely Roy collected her first all-conference recognition this season as she led the team with 11 goals. She stands at third in the conference and 27th nationally for total goals. Roy was the first player in three years to log multiple goals in one game, a feat she accomplished three different times this season. She ended the season with 5-for-6 on penalty kick conversions.
As for the Broncos, they also saw several of their players receive honors this season. Izzy D’Aquila won Offensive Player of the Year with 18 goals and is currently tied for second in the country, also winningWCC Offensive Player of the Week three times in a row. Annie Karich was named Freshman of the Year and Broncos head coach Jerry Smith was named Coach of the Year. Cal will need to maintain a sharp eye on these stellar athletes if it hopes to advance to the second round.
Cal played tremendously well this season and the Bears hope their success will transfer over to the tournament as the team fights to extend the season. This is the first time since 2019 that the Bears will appear in the College Cup and fans eagerly wait to see how their first round will play out.