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Cal Women’s Soccer seeks big bounce back season in 2019

Season starts next Thursday (August 22nd) when the Bears host Weber State

Golden Bears are hoping to start another long postseason streak in 2019
Cal Women’s Soccer Twitter

A 14 year consecutive NCAA postseason streak for the Cal Women’s Soccer program was snapped in 2018 when the Golden Bears only earned a 5-12-2 record, 1-9-1 in the Pac-12. This was the first time that the program has missed the postseason under head coach Neil McGuire, who is starting his 13th season as the head of the Cal program where he is also the all-time leader in wins.

Some bad lucks were involved in Cal’s bad record last year. This was the Cal team that pushed then No.2 USC to overtime before falling. Bears also lost quite a few matches by 1 or 2 goal margin. Simply put, the Bears never got it going offensively despite talent at the forward spot with Abi Kim (now a senior) with the team high of only 6 goals and the since graduated Miranda Nild (who represented Thailand at the Women’s World Cup this past summer).

Defensively, Cal also had some growing pains starting with replacing the 4-year starter Emily Boyd at keeper with a redshirt freshman Olivia Sekany. In 4 matches, Bears gave up 4 goals to the oppositions, all losses.

Looking forward to 2019, Golden Bears will have 9 newcomers, including 8 freshmen and a transfer from Santa Clara (forward Julia Curtis). Two impact freshmen to watch out for are high school All-Americans in midfielder Jadyn Shinn and keeper Angelina Anderson. There will certainly be openings for Shinn to earn significant playing time right away while I would not be shocked if Anderson has unseated a solid if unspectacular Sekany as the starting keeper as soon as the opener next week.

Bears will also have a bunch of experienced veterans coming back, who are looking to put 2018 behind them. Re-joining Kim in the frontline will be junior Emma Westin, who spent the summer playing the Swedish U-23 National Team; Westin had a team high 4 assists to go with 4 goals last year. Senior Kayla Fong (3G, 1A) and junior Luca Deza (2G, 2A) are also back as well as Paige Metayer (2G). Coming off her summer as a bench player for the New Zealand Football Ferns in her 2nd Women’s World Cup, midfield Daisy Cleverly is also back for the Bears with no doubts stories and perhaps advices to share.

McGuire has traditionally loved to play a deep rotation of players, so a lot of the underclassmen should be getting their shots this fall to make differences on the squad.

The relatively young backline, captained by now junior Emily Smith, will also bring back now sophomores in Abena Aidoo and Sydney Collins.

Chances are, Bears will be much closer to being a 0.500 team, particularly in the tough but should not be impossible Pac-12 conference (Stanford, UCLA, and USC were all in the top 5 of the country last year but the rest of the Pac are at the same quality as the Bears), just by being luckier in 2019. Hopefully, the 2018 season was just a minor hiccup in the trajectory of the program - who has tried very hard to make a longer postseason run beyond just two matches for the past decade despite all the talent on the squad.

Bears will still play at Edwards Stadium in 2019 with 11 home matches on the schedule, starting with Weber State on next Thursday afternoon. Pac-12 play starts with a trip to Westwood on September 27th. The Stanford rivalry match will end the regular season but it will come from The Farm on November 8th. While those matches are hard, Bears will be hosting the middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 foes in Berkeley this year to boost their postseason hope. May 2019 be the start of another double digit year postseason appearance streak for Cal Women’s Soccer.