Cal women’s soccer notches pair of shutouts, boosts record to 4-0

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Andrew Peng/File

It took less than a minute for Portland State’s prospects against the Cal women’s soccer team to plummet from salvageable to dismal.

Shortly after forward Samantha Witteman nailed her second goal of the season 62 minutes into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, forward Grace Leer sprinted toward a pass from midfielder Guro Bergsvand. The redshirt senior met the ball midair, hitting it over the head of Portland State goalkeeper Caitlin Plese. In a matter of seconds, the Vikings watched their deficit against the Bears grow from 1-0 to 3-0.

“It was very exciting. I don’t usually score goals like that,” Leer said.

That single minute speaks to the dominance of the Bears’ offense this weekend. Over the course of its two nonconference matchups, Cal (4-0-0) earned a pair of shutouts after outscoring LIU Brooklyn (0-4-0)  and Portland State (1-1-2) by three goals and five goals, respectively. The weekend also extended Cal’s winning streak to four — a potentially useful cushion as the team prepares for a schedule littered with Pac-12 and nonconference juggernauts.

Yet, while the Bears faced two unranked teams this weekend, it was clear from the start the squad wasn’t about to take its competition lightly. Against LIU Brooklyn, Cal outshot its opponents 15-5 with eight shots on goal. Leer led that effort with four shots, including a goal 73 minutes into the game with a header into the right side of the net.

Leer wasn’t the only one to give an impressive performance on Friday, though. In total, 26 Bears logged minutes Friday afternoon — the most of any game this season. Among Cal’s scorers was Kelly Fitzgerald, who recorded the first goal of her collegiate career from a deflection off the top of the box.

“We have so much depth within our team,” Leer said. “We have a lot of players that can play different positions — a lot of players that are effective off the bench — and I think that really shows within our game. For the full 90 minutes, we have constant energy — just a lot of things happening — and I think that it’s definitely working.”

The Bears continued to showcase that depth Sunday, when five different players recorded goals against the Vikings. Leer, Taylor Comeau and Fitzgerald each scored for the second time this weekend, while Witteman and Hannah Koski also contributed to the tally. The high-scoring affair marked the most goals the team had earned since 2012.

Still, after this weekend, it’s difficult to gauge how Cal will fare against the steep competition that awaits. After their coming matches against Saint Mary’s and Cal Poly, the Bears will take on two top-25 opponents before they near the beginning of their conference schedule. With that ominous lineup on the horizon, Cal’s performance this weekend wasn’t just impressive — it was necessary for a team that hopes to compete as one of the top squads in the country.

“Yes, we scored a lot of goals this weekend, but we still had a lot more opportunities in front of the goal that we should have put away,” Leer said. “I think sharpening up that part of the game and our possession will make us that much better.”

Dani Jo Coony covers women’s soccer. Contact her at dcoony@dailycal.org.

Read more here: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/09/01/cal-womens-soccer-notches-pair-shutouts-boosts-record-4-0/
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