Defense Comes Up Big In 14-12 Win At Fresno State
FRESNO – Goalkeeper Riley Drullinger recorded a career-high 14 saves to lead Cal (1-2) to a 14-12 non-conference victory at Fresno State (1-3) on Friday evening at the Fresno State Soccer & Lacrosse Stadium.
The game was tied 8-8 at halftime after the Bulldogs' Sydney Skalstad ended the first-half scoring with a goal 2:22 before the break, but Drullinger and the Golden Bears' defense held the Bulldogs scoreless for the next 19:27 while scoring four goals of their own during the stretch to take a lead they would never relinquish. Drulinger made five consecutive saves during the Bulldogs' dry spell.
"Everyone got momentum after the half on some key defensive stops," Drullinger said. "That was a big momentum shift for us."
Quinnlyn Mason led the Bears' offensive attack with a career-high-tying four goals by converting on all four of her shots. Megan Mix, Marisa Kuberra and Maya Lawliss each added a pair of goals with Kuberra also picking up an assist. Nikki Zaccaro and Ashley Ward had one goal each with Ward also registering a pair of assists while Zaccaro had one.
"Our win today against Fresno State was huge going into Pac-12 play," Mason said. "We had a lot of different point-getters, which shows that the depth and chemistry on our attack is building. The catalyst for my goals were my teammates' hard work all over the field. With big possessions on draws, movement on the attack and defensive stops I was given the opportunity to capitalize on the attacking end."
Cal held a key 17-11 advantage in draw controls with LisaBanks Campagna coming away with a game-high eight and Kuberra picking up seven, while Olivia Dey and Marina Smith added one each.
The game was tied seven times in the first half before Cal broke away with its four goals to start the second period during the Bulldogs' scoreless stretch. Mix began Cal's second-half scoring at 28:28 when she scored on an assist by Ward before three consecutive unassisted goals from Mason (24:41), Lawliss (19:35) and the second goal of the stretch from Mix (13:03).
Hannah Etheridge finally broke Fresno State's scoring drought with a goal on an assist from Skalstad with 12:55 to go and Hannah Kratz picked up her fourth and final goal on a free position shot with 8:29 remaining but Mason answered less than a minute later by making a free position shot of her own with 7:41 to go to get the Cal advantage back to three goals at 13-10.
Skalstad cut the score to 13-11 with her third and final goal but Cal answered again just over a minute later when Kuberra converted a free position shot at 5:47 to put the Bears ahead, 14-11.
Drulinger would stop the next two Fresno State shots including a free position attempt by Krats with 2:03 remaining to help ice the victory. Fresno State did score a final goal when Logann Eldridge converted a free position shot with 1:34 to go but Cal won the draw control that followed and ran out the remainder of the clock.
"It was a tight first half with both teams having an answer for the other," head coach Brooke Eubanks said. "Riley was able to settle in and made some huge point blank saves. She has a ton of potential and with each game experience she's going to get better and better. She also has a veteran defense in front of her so she is able to feel supported through the ups and downs of a game."
Campagna had a team-high four ground balls and one of the Bears' four caused turnovers with Mix, Ward and Joanna Levin also each forcing a Fresno State miscue.
"This is a great boost for us going into Pac-12's," Drullinger said about the win. "It is a great momentum shift from last weekend. We fought harder tonight all the way around. It wasn't just a defensive, or an offensive, or a midfielders' thing. It was everyone as a collective unit. We are just so grateful to be back on the field after 10 months or so off of it. This team is special, and I think that we are all very intentional about each game that we play knowing that it could always be our last. We don't have to play, we get to play, and I think that's what has really grounded us this season."
Cal returns to action by hosting No. 18 USC (1-2) in its Pac-12 opener at California Memorial Stadium next Friday, Mar. 12 (5 pm PT). Under current health and safety guidelines, no fans are permitted to attend games on the Cal campus.