Cal Women's Soccer: NCAA First Round @ Pepperdine Open Thread

Can Betsy Hassett (left) lead the Bears to another road win and the NCAA Second Round? - Joern Pollex

While it was no surprise that the Cal Women's Soccer made the field of the NCAA tournament when the result came out on Monday, it was mildly disappointing that the Bears were not given a home game in the first round. Instead, the No. 16/23 Cal (15-5-0) has to travel to No. 21/22 Pepperdine (14-6-0). Good thing that the Bears have a pretty solid 8-1 road record this season.

RESULT UPDATE: Bears won 1-0 over the Pepperdine Waves thanks to Ariana Martinez' goal in the 86th minutes. Cal's outstanding road record is now 9-1 as the Bears won in front of some loud Cal fans, including Women's Soccer Superstar Alex Morgan. The Bears dominated possession in the 2nd half against a shorthanded Waves squad. Waves out shot the Bears 6-5 in the 1st half, but the Bears returned the favor and more by out shooting the Waves 7-3 in the 2nd half. Cal goalkeeper Emily Kruger earned the shutout by making one save.

Next up: Cal will likely face the 2nd seed in the region in San Diego State who plays Cal State Northridge at 7PM tonight. This match would take place either next Friday or Sunday.

ROLL ON YOU BEARS!

When: 1 PM PT

Online stream: NCAA

Score update: twitter (@CalWomensSoccer)

Full Interactive NCAA Bracket

Bears hit the road to take on the Pepperdine Waves in the NCAA First Round. I'm not sure how the home field for the first round is determined (but I'm pretty sure that Cal has hosted it in the past so it's not because Edwards is not good enough) but the 3rd placed Pac-12 team (Cal) was not awarded a home game in the first round when Washington somehow did (Huskies got beat 2-0 by Auburn last night).

With its 15 wins, the Bears are tied for the highest win total for the season in program history. It would be a pretty neat record to get for the 2012 team. Bears had a 8 match win streak in the middle of this season and are now a 6 match win streak away from being the National Champions.

Looking slightly ahead, the Bears are in the same region as the two Pac-12 powerhouses in UCLA (3rd seed in this region) and the defending champ Furd (No. 1 seed in this region). If the Bears can get past the Waves today, they would likely have to face the 2nd seed in this region, San Diego State next. For the Bears to make it to the College Cup (NCAA Womens' Soccer Final Four), the Bears would have to earn it. On the other hand, the Bears would likely get to stay in the state of California for the entire run, with the College Cup this year taking place in San Diego.

A quick introduction about the 2012 Women's Soccer Team:

For the season, the Bears has outshot their opponents 311 to 205 and outscoring at 43 to 21 (having both more chances and converting at a higher rate).

Scoring-wise, the Bears are lead by the recently crowned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Ifeoma Onumonu, and her team leading 11 goals and 27 points (from the goals and 5 assists). Onumonu also has a team high 41 shots on goal for the season.

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The key playmaker and captain for the team is senior New Zealand Calympian midfielder, Betsy Hassett, who is tied for the team lead in assists with 5 and second in total points with 17 (6 goals, 5 assists).

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What has been pretty amazing for the Bears offensively is that 14 different Bears has scored a goal this season, with 9 Bears having scored at least 2 goals. Katilyn Fitzpatrick and (former American Juniors contestant) Grace Leer both have 4 goals. Lauren Battung and Celeste Boureille each has 3 goals. In the Bears' usually high power offense there are plenty of scorers.

The key player for the Bears' success however is the junior goalkeeper, Emily Kruger, who was terrific in the Bears' last game (a 1-0 home loss to No.1 Furd). Kruger has a goal allowed average of 1.02.

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For the season, the Bears actually has a better road record (8-1) than at home (7-4) which can probably be attributed to a tougher schedule at home. Nevertheless, the solid road record does indicate that the Bears don't mind playing on the road and has the experience to pull off wins in hostile territories (or rather make it a Bear Territory).

About Pepperdine (from CalBears.com)

Pepperdine has earned two straight bids to the NCAA Tournament and produced a 6-6-0 overall record in the postseason. Under coach Tim Ward, the Waves have won eight of their last 11 games entering Saturday's match and finished tied for third place in the WCC. Senior forward Anisa Guajardo leads the Waves in points with 28 and is tied for the team high in goals (10) and game-winning goals (4) with sophomore midfielder forward Amanda LeCave. Junior defender/forward Michelle Pao paces her team in assists (9), while senior goalkeeper Roxanne Barker has posted a 1.21 GAA in 18 starts.

Last year, Pepperdine also hosted an NCAA first-round match, but the Waves lost to Long Beach State, 1-0, in overtime. Additionally in 2011, Cal fell to Pepperdine, 2-1, in the season opener at Edwards Stadium.

The success and further rise to superstardom of Alex Morgan this summer has already made this year quite a special one for Cal Women's Soccer. Of course, there is no better way to cap off the year than with a deep run in the NCAA tournament.

GO BEARS!



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