California defeated Albany, 14-9, in the Golden Bears’ home opener on Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Cal freshman midfielder Vail Horn led all scorers with a career-high five goals and senior attacker Sam Price scored four. The Bears’ record improved to 2-1 after the non-conference win. Albany fell to 1-2.
“It was fun to get a win in our first home game,”
Cal head coach Theresa Sherry said. “Our attack came out and looked good in the first half, scoring 10 goals. Were still demanding more from our defense, to allow fewer goals, but Albany is a tough team. They have a lot of threats on the attack. We had a tough time stopping No. 18 [Kayla Best] and some of their other one-on-one challengers.”
Best, who is on a 33-game scoring streak, led Albany with four goals.
The Great Danes have just played Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opponents, including Saint Mary’s (a 14-9 win) and Stanford (a 15-10 loss), so far this season.
Horn had previously set her career goalscoring high (4 goals) in the season-opening 19-0 rout of Fresno State. She currently ranks second in scoring at Cal with 10 goals. Price leads the Bears with 13 points (10 goals, 3 assists).
“Vail did well,” Sherry said. “That’s what she’s capable of. Four goals in the first half. Could she have duplicated that in the second half? We had to get her some rest because she does a lot for us on both ends of the field. We had to give her a little time to relax.”
The Bears’ starting lineup featured three freshmen: Horn, defender Melissa Sheehan and attacker Tara Arolla. Cal started four newcomers overall, including sophomore transfer Molly Everett.
“The freshmen have been stepping up very well,” Sherry said. “Tori Harrison came in today. Tara Arolla had at least one goal. Melissa Sheehan has been a major factor in our defense, and I think that’s very important to the overall culture of the team. That’s something we’re going to need down the road. We’re going to need them to continue to step up and not play like freshmen.”
Cal broke out to a 3-0 first half lead on goals by Price, junior midfielder Alex Tickner and junior midfielder Alyse Kennedy. Best scored the Great Danes’ first goal at the 5:20 mark. Cal led, 3-1.
After Mel Rorie cut the Albany deficit to one goal with a strike at 9:18, Sherry took a timeout. Horn then scored her first goal at 10:49 to give Cal a 4-2 lead. Best scored again at 15:12 to make the score 4-3.
The Bears created another two-goal cushion on a goal by senior midfielder Ghillie Little on a nice feed from junior midfielder Alyse Kennedy. Albany crept within one goal yet again when Best scored an eight-meter goal to make the score 5-4 at 18:18.
Cal responded quickly on Horn’s second goal, which moved Cal ahead 6-4 at 18:30. Less than one minute later, Jodi Battaglia struck, and the Bears led, 6-5, at 19:11.
But that was the closest the Great Danes would get the rest of the game. Cal reeled off the last four goals of the half, with Horn scoring her third off an eight-meter shot at 21:18 and her fourth off an assist by Little at 25:00. Little, off an assist by freshman attacker Tara Arolla at 29:14, and Price each scored one, with Price scoring as time expired in the first half.
The Bears led, 10-5, at the break.
The second 30-minute period was a much more defensive-minded half, as each team scored four goals. Cal scored the first goal of the half, off Arolla’s unassisted effort at 34:45, and Albany‘s Christine Grueniger scored at 39:14. The Bears led, 11-5.
The teams traded goals three more times until Cal wound up with the 14-9 victory.
Cal next hosts 2008 NCAA semifinalist and third-ranked Syracuse at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.