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Cal Takes Liberty To The Wire Before Falling, 17-13

Mar 13, 2022
Nikki Zaccaro had a career-high five assists and six points in Cal's 17-13 loss to Liberty on Sunday.

BERKELEY – Cal scored a season-high 13 goals including six in the final quarter in a 17-13 loss to Liberty (4-4) in a non-conference game Sunday at FTX Field at California Memorial Stadium. Liz Scott scored a career-high four times for the Golden Bears, while Nikki Zaccaro tallied six points on one goal and a career-high five assists. Zaccaro moved into sole possession of second place on Cal's all-time assist list with 79 and is now four shy of all-time leader Colleen O'Mara, who tallied 83 from 2001-04. Olivia Dey and Maya Lawliss each had a pair of goals for the Bears, while Kennedy Mason, Megan Mix and Kate Rothman tallied one apiece. Mix, Lily Berger, Catherine Roxas and Belle Tiesi also had one assist each with Tiesi's the first of her career.

"We finally had some flow on offense today," head coach Brooke Eubanks said. "It was huge to be able to score 13 goals and to have 10 different people put up points. That is what we've been missing."

After falling behind 3-0 with just over five minutes elapsed in the first period, Cal was able to cut the margin to a single goal on three different occasions at 4-3 after back-to-back unassisted goals by Lawliss with 1:52 to go in the first and 12:50 remaining in the second, and then twice more in the third quarter when Mix scored unassisted with 10:16 to go to make it 7-6 and Zaccaro on an assist from Roxas at 5:25 to cut the Flames' margin to 8-7. Liberty would score the final two goals of the third period to reestablish a three-goal lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

Morse kicked off the fourth quarter by scoring an unassisted goal with 14:07 to go to the get the Bears back within two at 10-8 but Liberty took control of the contest with three consecutive goals to take its biggest lead of the contest at 13-8 with 9:56 remaining on the clock. Cal would score five goals over the final 9:21 with Scott picking up three while Rothman and Mason also tallied, but the Bears never cut the margin to fewer than three goals the rest of the way with Liberty scoring seven times in the final period.

Four Liberty players – Jordan Baerga, Olivia Glaze, Cami Merkel and Tori Banks – scored four goals each with Baerga also assisting on a pair of scores. Lizzy Ferguson also tallied twice for the Flames, while Mia Toscano, Brooke Bryan and Jordan Sheive all had one goal and one assist. Leah Ruby had a team-high three assists while Alexa Evernham contributed one.

Cal edged Liberty in both draw controls (20-15) and groundballs (21-20) while Liberty held small advantages in shots (34-31), shots on goal (25-22) and saves (9-8).  

"It was good positive step in the right direction for us," Zaccaro said. "Our offense improved a lot. It was a really big chemistry day. We did a good job playing as an offensive group. It was our best offensive day so far."

"It was a moral victory for us today and a great platform for us to build for the future," Eubanks added.

Cal (0-7, 0-1 Pac-12) returns to action by hosting USC and Arizona State next Friday (5 pm PST) and Sunday (Noon PST) with the tilt against the Trojans to be streamed live on Cal Live Stream-3 and the matchup with the Sun Devils to be televised live on Pac-12 Bay Area.

"There's still a lot to work on but also a lot to be proud of," Scott said. "This gave us confidence that we can hang with anybody. We're looking forward to next week [against USC and Arizona State]. It's going to be fun."