Valiant effort by the Bears, but Stanford’s unbeaten streak lives on as the Cardinal defeated the Golden Bears 2-0 on Friday afternoon from Berkeley.
Stanford’s Jordan DiBiasi scored a brace, one goal in each half, to help the Cardinal to the victory. In the process, Stanford has also clinched the Pac-12 title.
The young Cal team got more experience this year, particularly in losing close matches. They will attempt to restart the NCAA postseason streak in 2019. Golden Bears have made the NCAA postseason for the past 14 years.
The learning curve for the young Cal Women’s Soccer squad this year has been steep. The season will end after this match regardless of the result, but it would certainly be awfully sweet for these Golden Bears to be the one that ends rival Stanford’s 39 match unbeaten streak (dating back to last year when they won the NCAA College Cup).
Cal Golden Bears’ 14 consecutive NCAA postseason appearance streak will end this year. Despite returning 22 players from last year, Golden Bears could not capture the similar magic in 2018.
Stanford actually just escaped Washington State in their last match with a draw. Then again, Stanford had obliterated a good Colorado team 7-0 two weeks ago, mere days after the Colorado Buffalos beat the Golden Bears 3-0 in Berkeley. Despite graduating Andi Sullivan, top overall pick in the NWSL draft last year, Stanford arguably got better. Cardinals even had to share their defender Tierna Davidson with the USWNT team this fall as the United States qualified for the Women’s World Cup next summer; Davidson has only played in 3 matches this season.
Instead, Stanford just kept on relying on the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and the frontrunner for Player of the Year in 2018 in sophomore forward Catarina Macario. Macario has a team high 12 goals to go with 5 assists. Senior midfielder Jordan DiBiasi has 8 assists to lead the Cardinal and to go with her 5 goals.
With all the offensive firepower, Stanford’s strength comes from being extremely stingy with giving up goals (likely also due to their ball control but I can’t find the time of possession information for college matches). Stanford’s redshirt senior keeper Alison Jahansouz has 7 clean sheets in 2018 to go with 11 from the 2017 season where Stanford did not concede a goal in the 4 postseason matches leading up to the championship final (a 3-2 win over UCLA).
It will be tough to beat Stanford, but this is also soccer where any given match an upset (or draw) may happen.
Stanford actually has not clinched the Pac-12 title, with an extra match in hand. With 25 points, Stanford are tied with USC who is facing UCLA this weekend. UCLA, with 24 points, also has a shot at the Pac-12 crown if the Golden Bears and the Arizona State Sun Devils (the extra match for Stanford after an early season weather postponement) can help them out.
For the Cal Bears, they will celebrate their 4 seniors before the match.
The 4 Bears who will be honored are: forward and Thai National Team member (going to be playing in the Women’s World Cup next summer in France) Miranda Nild, technically just a redshirt junior who scored the game winner in Cal’s lone Pac-12 win thus far Anja Koehler, Canadian midfielder Emily Kasa, and another redshirt junior in 3rd string keeper Brooke Lisowski who has got some playing time as of late (she started Cal’s latest match at Washington and played the first half). By the way, I can see Koehler being honored but also still play for the Bears next year; this was most recently done by Ifeoma Onumanu (now in the NWSL) who came back for her last year of eligibility after being celebrated for graduating the year before.
With Nild away with her national team duty (she has Thai heritage but grew up in California), Bears started this year without a senior in their lineup. The young squad had to depend on basically a new backline (especially after sophomore captain Emily Smith missed time with an injury) in front of a new keeper which ended up being some combination of redshirt freshman Olivia Sekany and true freshman Amanda Zodikoff.
Junior striker Abi Kim has not have the breakout year that the Bears have needed. Still, Kim leads the Bears with 6 goals (and 1 assist). Swedish sophomore Emma Westin (and team high in playing time logged) has 4 goals and 4 assists. Senior Nild has 3 goals and 3 assists to be 3rd on the team in points.
After a 4-3-1 record in non-conference play (Smith was out for half of it), Bears have struggled in Pac-12 play by losing 8 matches, 4 by just one goal. Bears did manage to edge Oregon 2-1 up in Eugene and earned a tough draw 3-3 at Tucson against Arizona on back-to-back matches.
Judging from the lineup being used in the last few matches, injuries appear to be an issue for the Bears as well. Freshman defender Sydney Collins who played nearly every minute of the first 3⁄4 of the season has not played in the last few matches. Nonetheless, the Bears should benefit from more players getting some valuable Pac-12 experiences.
There is no more better experience as a boost for next year than for the Golden Bears to upset top ranked Stanford from Bear Territory this afternoon.
California Golden Bears (5-11-2, 1-8-1 in Pac-12) vs. No.1 Stanford Cardinal (15-0-2, 8-0-1 in Pac-12)
Where: Edwards Stadium (Berkeley, CA)
When: 3pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks