With a click of their cleats, members of Cal women’s soccer have returned to the field. The team’s comeback featured much excitement, but fouls and cards were also present in spades as the Bears faced the Santa Clara Broncos on Aug. 22.
The blue and gold started off with high levels of confidence coming off a 3-0 win against UCSD. Cal managed to tie 1-1 against No. 2 ranked Santa Clara — which was no easy feat. This Bay Area rivalry radiated waves of intensity from the bottom of the turf to the top of the nosebleed seats.
The energy on the pitch was palpable, as the two teams pushed against each other with the force of 23 fouls and three yellow cards. This tension between rivals, ebbing and flowing throughout the game, was the result of reuniting after a two-year separation. The last time the teams faced off was in 2019, where the Bears left defeated, 0-1. After the game this Sunday, Santa Clara sits at 20-23-8 in an all time record against Cal.
Throughout the game, both teams showed an extremely tough front. They presented a strong moving offense, constantly trying to advance onto the other’s side. The rivalry turned real when the first half began, with Santa Clara’s Kelsey Turnbow scoring the opening goal. Turnbow gave the Broncos an early lead right before the 11-minute mark.
As the first half advanced, the blue and gold continued to press forward and their efforts were rewarded. Blue and gold sophomore Abby Borchers shot a goal into the back of the net with help from freshman Jordyn Young, who successfully found a hole in the Broncos’ defensive line. Borchers made a name for herself with that shot, with head coach Neil McGuire calling her the “fox in the box.”
“She’s able to find seams and create chances for herself with her intellect,” McGuire said. “It was a tremendously composed finish.”
Another star player who shined brightly during this match was junior Makena Smith. Originally a catcher on the Cal softball team, Smith played soccer throughout her high school years and recently joined the women’s soccer team. Returning to the spotlight after a hiatus from soccer, Smith made her mark by clinching seven saves — her most noteworthy being when she tipped the ball over the bar during overtime. Her save kept the draw between the Bears and the Broncos, preventing a devastating loss for the blue and gold.
“In order to do what Makena did, you have to be a very special athlete,” McGuire said.
The Bears’ defense held firm during the second half and into overtime. As the game ended, women’s soccer had officially made its way back to Edwards Stadium. The excitement from the crowd was palpable.
“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,” McGuire said.
The blue and gold will stop by Portland on Aug. 27 for a short stint away from the Bay. Following the match against the Pilots, Cal’s five-game nonconference schedule will continue at Edwards Stadium. The Bears have plenty more cleat-clicking to look forward to, as their season is just getting started.
Maria Khan covers men’s soccer. Contact her at email@example.com.