MALIBU, Calif. – The California Golden Bears are road warriors.
The women’s college soccer program from Berkeley showed on Saturday that it is pretty comfortable in just about any environment.
The Pac-12 squad used a late goal by junior midfielder Ariana Martinez to defeat Pepperdine 1-0 on the road in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
“In terms of playing on the road or playing at home, it doesn’t matter to us,” Cal head coach Neil McGuire said after the game. “As long as the team is healthy, they’re motivated. Right now, we are very healthy and motivated.”
Next up for Cal is a clash against San Diego State on Friday after the Aztecs defeated Big West champions Cal State Northridge(w) on Saturday.
“Our focus all year has been on what we do well,” McGuire said about the next round of the tournament. “Obviously, we are a team that likes to keep the ball, but I’d like to see us generate more from our width [in the next game].”
Martinez’s 87th minute tally grabbed the headlines, but goalkeeper Emily Kruger dictated the tone of the game early. The junior made a sprawling save in the opening 45 seconds to deny a great chance from the home side. Kruger came up big twice later in the first stanza, as Cal played against a fierce wind to open the game.
In the second half, Cal used the wind to its advantage and dictated the play with only two shots conceded over the 45-minute stretch.
The top seed from that grouping, Stanford, made easy work of its opening game with a 3-0 win over Idaho State on Friday. Chioma Ubogagu had two assists in the shutout victory.
The Cardinal, the top seed overall, moves on to play Santa Clara in the second round on Friday. The Broncos beat Long Beach State 2-1 on Saturday. The winner of that fixture will face the winner of Maryland and Denver on Sunday.
Erin Dees Saves the Season – THREE TIMES
Portland goalkeeper Erin Dees, the TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Week, came up with three crucial saves in Friday’s first round victory over Washington State. The Pilots and Cougars battled to a 2-2 draw after 110 minutes in the clash.
Faced with penalty kicks, Dees put her team on her back and carried them into the next round with game-saving blocks on three kicks to help Portland advance 6-5 on penalty kicks.
Dees and Portland take on Michigan in the next round, as part of the section with Penn State.
Baylor Battles Past Adversity
The Baylor Bears, despite being the #3 seed in the bracket, were forced to go on the road in their first round NCAA Tournament game. However, the Big 12 squad used the difficult circumstances as motivation and cruised past Arizona State 3-1 in Tempe.
"I am so proud of the way the girls handled this game tonight," Baylor head coach Marci Jobson said in a release. "This group just has unbelievable character and integrity. Their ability to handle the adversity thrown at them was excellent."
Baylor hits the road again for its next game, as the Bears travel to North Carolina to take on Georgetown.
In the other part of that bracket, the #1 seed BYU survived a bit of a scare against local rival Utah State. The Cougars raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first half, but the Aggies battled back with an early goal in the second half.
Thanks to the goalkeeping of Erica Owens, the Cougars were able to hold on and advanced with a 2-1 win.
BYU takes on Auburn next after the SEC program upset Washington in the first round. The win over the Huskies marks the first time in program history that Auburn has won on a road game in the NCAA Tournament.