No. 14 Bears Open Season On The Road
BERKELEY - California returns to the field more than a year since the Bears' last competitive match as the delayed 2020-21 season makes its start this weekend with a Pac-12 road trip. Cal opens against Oregon State on Friday, Feb. 26 in Corvallis at 7 p.m. on Paul Lorenz Field and the road trip wraps up with a 12 noon match on Sunday, Feb. 28 against Oregon.
The matches this weekend are slated as non-conference matches. Both the Ducks and the Beavers will travel to Berkeley for a Pac-12 conference match on Mar. 26 and Mar. 28.
Head coach Neil McGuire enters his 14th season with a Cal team that posted a 13-5-3 record last season. The Bears made a historic start in 2019, winning their first eight matches of the year. The season concluded at the first round of the NCAA tournament, marking McGuire's 12th trip to the postseason with the Bears.
"We are very proud of our players, as they have done an amazing job dealing with the challenges set forth by COVID-19," McGuire said. "Having not played a competitive game in 15 months we are thrilled to be able to get back on the field and compete. Our preparations have gone well and we look forward to a great opening game against a very good Oregon State team."
The Bears are led by tri-captains Angelina Anderson, Emily Smith, and Emma Westin. Anderson returns as the reigning Pac-12 Freshman and Goalkeeper of the Year, having a 0.849 save percentage and nine solo shutouts last season. A senior defender and 2021 NWSL draft pick, Smith plays a key role in the Cal backline that held 10 shutouts in 2019. Forward Westin - another veteran for the Bears - is an offensive leader and led the team in scoring last season. Cal brings 18 total returners from last season's tournament team.
BRAND NEW BEARS
California welcomes 11 new faces to the 2020-21 roster. A 2019 WCC All-Freshman Team selection, sophomore forward Keely Roy joins the Golden Bears after one season with the USF Dons. She joins alongside 10 true freshmen: Abby Borchers (F), Amaya Gray (F), Anysa Gray (F), Cami Cassinelli (D), Hannah Cooper (F), Julia Gonsman (D), Lily Shea (D), Maya Evans (D), Rilee Harmon (M), and Skylar Briggs (D).
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Friday's match will be streamed via OSU live stream (link TBA). Sunday's game against Oregon will be streamed on the Oregon Live Stream. Fans can follow along with updates during the game by following @CalWSoc on twitter.
SCOUTING THE BEAVERS
OSU opened the season on Feb. 5 with a win against Idaho before a 4-3 defeat against Portland on Feb. 10. The team posted an 11-6-2 record last season and 3-6-2 conference record.
All-Pac-12 selections McKenzie Weinhart (Third Team) and Briana McReynolds (All-Freshman) return alongside 14 total OSU returners. In their last meeting, the Bears and the Beavers tied 0-0 in the eighth Cal shutout of 2019. California leads the series 23-5-2 overall.
SCOUTING THE DUCKS
Oregon began the season with a 1-0 win against Gonzaga on Feb. 7 followed by a 1-1 tie against Sacramento State on Feb. 19. Oregon is led by first year head coach Graeme Abel. Four of their top five goal scorers from last season will play this spring: Jordan Wormdahl (7), Ally Cook (5), Zoe Hasenauer (4) and Maya Hahn (3). The 2019 Mountain West Player of the Year, Lexi Romero, joins Oregon as a transfer alongside six new freshmen.
Last season, Oregon posted a 5-9-5 overall record and 1-8-2 conference record. The last matchup between the Bears and the Ducks ended in a 1-1 draw as Angelina Anderson collected seven saves.
The home opener for California kicks off on Mar. 5 against Utah. The Bears face the Utes on Witter Rugby Field, which is Cal's home for the 2020-21 spring season.
IN THE POLLS
The United Soccer Coaches have yet to produce rankings for the spring. The Bears currently rank no. 14 in TopDrawerSoccer preseason rankings.