BERKELEY - The No. 18 California women's soccer team and No. 2 UCLA played to a scoreless draw in a Pac-12 Conference showdown in front of 600 fans at Edwards Stadium Friday afternoon. The Golden Bears were the first team to hold the Bruins scoreless this season.
Cal moved to 8-3-2 overall and 1-1-2 in the Pac-12, snapping UCLA's seven-game winning streak. The Bruins, who are now 10-0-2 overall, were held out of the win column in conference play for the first time this season with a 3-0-1 league mark.
"I thought it was an outstanding performance from start to finish," said Cal head coach Neil McGuire. "It was great soccer. It was real grit and determination from both sides. UCLA is an outstanding team and B.J. Snow has done a fantastic job in his first year as a head coach. You have to give credit to UCLA for a great performance. We are very proud of our players. That was a great opportunity for fans to see two great teams playing very high-level soccer."
"The energy is as good as it gets," McGuire added in acknowledgement of the season-high home crowd at Edwards Stadium. "The fans were engaged and I think that is because they are proud of their Bears. We can only hope that they continue to come and support us because I think we really thrive off of it."
Despite the absence of a goal by either team, action was intense throughout. UCLA held a 16-15 edge in shots, including four in each overtime period. Defender's Danielle Brunache and Emi Lawson played a key role in keeping the Bruins off the scoreboard throughout the match. Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Kruger posted four saves for the third-straight match en route to her third shutout of the season.
"Emi Lawson and Danielle Brunache were defending one of the finest strikers in the country and one of the finest young strikers in the world and they played outstanding," McGuire said.
The Bears were on the attack early with an 8-1 advantage in shots after the first period. UCLA's lone shot attempt of the opening half came early in the match when Charney Burk moved just outside the top of the box, but Brunache was right there to block the scoring attempt from close range.
The senior defender snuffed out another UCLA scoring opportunity from close range late in the second half.
"Everyone played well and sometimes, with two great teams, it is a tie," Kruger said. "Our defenders did a fantastic job of pushing them clear of the goal. They didn't have a good look all match and I credit our defense for that."
Four minutes into the second half, Cal freshman Taylor Comeau sliced through the defense and fired a shot from the top of the box that nearly snuck past a diving UCLA goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. The ball bounced off the goalie and danced on the goal line before being corralled by Rowland.
With one minute remaining in regulation, Cal was on the attack again. Betsy Hassett fed Lauren Battung and the junior worked past the defense to get some free space, but her shot was just wide of the near post.
With just under two minutes remaining in the first of two overtime periods, UCLA's Jenna Richmond found some free space and rocketed a shot just wide of the far post. Sam Lewis gave the Bruins their best scoring opportunity of the second overtime period with a shot that sailed just high of the cross bar.
"We saw glimpses of greatness throughout the match at every position," McGuire said. "It was a great overall team performance. We are very happy with our team's overall ability to come back from a very difficult week last week with the loss of Katie Benz and the travel issues we had. I am very proud of them."
The scoreless draw ended the Bears' six-match losing streak the Bruins. It was the first tie between the two schools in the 18-match all-time series.
Cal returns to action at Edwards Stadium on Sunday for a 1 p.m. match with USC.