Santa Clara Can't Advance Past Cal In NCAA Tournament's First Round
Photos from the match! (Credit Denis Concordel)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In the first round of it's 23rd NCAA Tournament, No. 11 Santa Clara University women's soccer (13-2-6; 6-1-1 WCC) couldn't advance against California (12-7-3; 5-4-2 Pac-12) as the game ended in a 1-1 tie and Cal moved on on penalty kicks 4-3. In a game where each team controlled possession for long stretches the Broncos were unable to keep their season alive and advance to the second round.
"I'm proud of the team and I'm proud of the effort," said Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith. "Both teams had a hard-earned goal in the run of play and both teams missed chances in the run of play to score the winner. I thought it was a good NCAA battle. Whoever was not advancing today was going to be disappointed and it happened to be us today."
Taylor Comeau fired a shot from just outside the box in the 25th minute for the Bears' first good scoring chance of the game. All-American Bronco goalkeeper Bianca Henninger was able to reach up and make the save to keep the score at 0-0.
Cal had another chance when Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick got behind the defense in the box but a great play from Ellie Rice let her get in front of the shot and make the block. The ball bounced to Kory Lamet who fired a shot of her own from the 18-yard mark but the ball sailed over the net.
In the 28th minute Rachel Mercik got a ball off of a poor clear by the Broncos and tried to chip it over Henninger but the shot landed on top of the net for a goal kick.
Cal struck first in the 31st off the foot of Lamet. Betsy Hassett took a shot from the left side that Henninger was able to save but not secure and the rebound went straight to the foot of Lamet who knocked the ball into the empty net to make the score 1-0.
Bridgett Miller nearly tied the game a few minutes later. She lost control of the ball just outside the box but fought with the Cal defender to regain possession. After a dribble to set up her shot, she rolled it just wide left of the net.
With seven minutes remaining in the half Julie Johnston played a terrific through ball to Sofia Huerta who was in a footrace with Cal goalkeeper Emily Kruger to get to the ball but Kruger was able to get just enough to knock the ball from Huerta and Cal was able to clear. The half ended with the score 1-0 in favor of Cal.
Santa Clara finally broke through in the 57th minute on a goal from Cali Reis. Johnston took a center from Huerta but her slow shot on the ground hit the right post. Reis, however, was there to collect the rebound and tie the game at 1-1.
Henninger came up large a couple minutes later when Cal got behind the defense and had a chance to retake the lead. Henninger charged out and dove to her side to make the save and the Broncos were able to clear the rebound.
Shim almost put Santa Clara on top in the 72nd minute when she put a move on the Cal defender and took a shot from the right side of the box that Kruger was able to knock over the net to keep the tie in order.
Henninger made another huge save with just over seven minutes left in regulation. The rebound went directly to a Cal player who had Henninger out of position but Rice was there on the goal line to block the shot. Regulation ended with the score 1-1.
Katie Speidel nearly ended the game in the 93rd minute when she took a pass from Shim near the left of the box but her shot hit the side of the net. Seconds later Huerta had a chance from 15 yards out but her shot flew over the goal.
Mercik had a golden chance in the second overtime when a Santa Clara defensive misplay led to a one-on-one with the goalie but she shot the ball wide right. The overtime periods ended with the score still knotted at 1-1.
The game went to penalty kicks and came down to the last kicks. Cal put the ball in the net. Santa Clara had to score to keep the game going but Kruger made a save on Rice's shot to advance Cal 4-3 on penalty kicks.