In a preview of what should be an explosive offense, the Cal women’s soccer team got goals from four different players to win 4-0 against USF in an exhibition game on Thursday.
Junior Kassie Doubrava, sophomore Kacy Hornor and freshmen Dania Cabello and Tracy Hamm all scored for the Bears, and goalkeepers Sani Post and Lee Ann Morton combined to shut out the Dons, who tied Cal 3-3 last season.
None of the Bears’ goal came from senior forward Laura Schott, who should become the leading goal- and point-scorer in school history sometime this season. Schott has 49 goals and 110 points, six goals and 23 points short of Joy Fawcett’s school records.
“Laura looks great. This could be her best season,” Cal head coach Kevin Boyd said. “She’s preparing for a professional career, so she’s very driven to improve.”
Schott isn’t the only player on pace to take down one of Fawcett’s records. Senior midfielder Brittany Kirk needs seven assists to overtake the former U.S. National Team star in the record book.
Boyd thinks this could be a breakout year for his team, which has lost in the first round of the NCAA playoffs the last two seasons. With Schott leading the attack up front and Kirk and junior Kim Yokers, who joined Schott on the Under-21 National Team this summer, manning the midfield, the Bears have a solid core up the middle.
“We’re really well-rounded this year,” Boyd said Thursday. “We have good players at every position, and our depth is good. Even our most established starters are being pushed by the younger and newer players.”
Boyd will be breaking in a new goalkeeper for the second year in a row. Mallory Moser, who started as a freshman last year, quit the team, leaving transfers Post and Ashley Sulprizio to battle it out between the posts. Post, a junior, came to Cal from Notre Dame last year but sat out with an injury. Sulprizio redshirted last year at Nebraska and has all four years of eligibility remaining, but is currently recovering from a concussion. Morton, a senior, was a midfielder for the last three seasons but shin problems forced her to quit playing the field. Her athleticism somewhat makes up for her lack of experience at the position, as she showed by recovering well to tip a chip shot wide on Thursday, but she will likely be the third keeper.
Boyd hopes one of his goalies takes ahold of the starting job, as Maite Zabala did for three years and Moser did last season.
“Nobody has clearly differentiated themself from the group,” Boyd said. “It’d be nice to have that one person you stick in there every game.”
Another important position change is that of Ashley Valenzuela, who moves to the backline after starting for two seasons in the midfield. Valenzuela is a physical player who should solidify the central defense along with junior Lucy Brining. Senior Kim Stocklmeir has a solid hold on the third fullback spot, and should Boyd employ a four-back set, junior Amy Willison is the leading candidate for the last spot.
The battle to be Schott’s main strike partner will likely go on all season, as at least four candidates look to replace departed Kyla Sabo. The 5-foot-10 Hornor showed flashes as a freshman last season, scoring four goals, but needs to learn to use her size advantage better. Senior Krysti Whalen has scored six goals in her Cal career but isn’t a very dynamic player, and freshmen Cabello and Liz Eisenberg will have to get used to the speed of the college game in order to contribute.
Speed is something that’s Boyd’s teams have lacked in the past, but that shouldn’t be a problem in years to come. He estimates that four of his freshmen are among the six fastest players on the team. Hamm could be an instant force on the wing, as showed against USF, using her pace to set up Hornor’s goal then blowing past a defender for her own score. Cabello and Eisenberg also have elite speed, which could be a nice complement to Schott’s skills and hustle.
The Bears open their season with the Cal Invitational next Friday. Ohio State, Purdue and St. Mary’s will be in the tournament.