Cal Holds Defending Champs To Draw
BERKELEY - California women's soccer opened their 2021 home slate by tying the No. 2 ranked Santa Clara squad that won the NCAA Championship last season. The teams traded first half goals, but neither team could find a winner throughout a tightly contested matchup at Edwards Stadium.
"It's great to be home, it's great to be playing again and it's great to be in front of our amazing fans," Cal head coach Neil McGuire said. "Their energy was inspirational and really helped spur the team on. Having an opportunity to play our storied rival, Santa Clara, is always going to bring out the best in both teams. I thought today, both teams performed extremely well. It's a good test for both of us as we move into the Pac-12 conference and NCAA Tournament time."
It was a tense back-and-forth physical affair as there were 23 fouls called and three yellow cards distributed. The two squads took the Bay Area rivalry to heart as both teams showed a well-organized approach that was hard to break down.
Kelsey Turnbow scored the opener for Santa Clara with a shot from the top of the box. The left-footed shot curled into the far corner and gave the Broncos the early lead in the 11th minute.
Cal equalized in the 36th minute as Abby Borchers punched home a goal. Jordyn Young played a lofted ball in, causing a mix-up in the Bronco defense. Borchers pounced on the ball and put it out of the keeper's reach to even the score.
"The entry pass was of high-quality from Jordyn," McGuire said. "We call Abby the 'fox in the box," because she's able to find seams and create chances for herself with her intellect. It was a tremendously composed finish."
After joining the team earlier this week, Makena Smith started in goal for the Bears. She collected seven saves and looked composed. Smith, is a catcher on Cal's softball team, but she played soccer throughout high school and competed in a club national championship. However, she hasn't played in a couple years and she stepped into the spotlight and notched seven saves. Her biggest save came in the last minute of overtime as there was a looping ball sent in from Turnbow that looked destined to find the net. However, Smith got a glove on it and was able to tip it over the bar. She helped the Bears stave off a furious Broncos attack in the last moments of the second overtime to preserve the draw.
"In order to do what Makena did, you have to be a very special athlete," McGuire said. "Clearly, she competes at the Pac-12 level in softball. She's a great athlete in that sport and it clearly translated in this game today. We've known for a long time that she's a talented dual athlete, she played for a club team that we know well and respect. We had no fear of putting her in the goal, but to see her perform the way she did was really special and I'm excited for her."
The Bears played a very even 90 minutes with the defending champs, as Santa Clara had four shots on goal to Cal's three and only one more corner kick than the Bears. However, the Broncos upped the pressure in the overtime period, but the Bears defense held firm.
The Bears started four freshmen and played two more in a competitive, high-intensity game.
"I think it's good for young players to get this type of competitive game in early, because then they'll understand what it takes for the next match," McGuire said. "Santa Clara is very well-organized and they obviously have tremendous talent and we were really tested today. We'll all learn from this; coaching staff, returning players and freshmen. But it is good to see the freshmen get this opportunity."
The Bears will be back in action on Friday as they travel to Portland for a 4 p.m. matchup with the Pilots.