(62) Colorado vs (29) Cal – 3:00 PM
The bubble tends to help those who help themselves, so both of these sides will be looking to take matters into their own hands on Saturday afternoon in Boulder. The pressure on both is mounting, after some of their potential bubble brethren in the league notched some huge results on Friday, only increasing the onus on both to start putting together wins as the season really kicks into gear. The home Buffs come into Pac-12 play still trying to shake off a reputation this year as flat-track bullies, having failed to beat a team higher than RPI #96 thus far. The Buffs had one chance to do so and lost to Kansas, leaving their NCAA Tournament hopes very much in the balance at the end of September. Still, CU comes into Saturday on a four match winning streak, having last put San Francisco to the sword in a 3-0 win last weekend. The club’s earlier scoring problems seem to have been fixed for the moment, with the duo of Brie Hooks and Darcy Jerman battering teams for three goals and three assists each. The latter’s three goals have all been match winners, and head coach Danny Sanchez will be hoping she can show more of that clutch touch on Saturday. With USC and UCLA away next weekend, the club could be staring an 0-3-0 start in the league if they can’t defend their turf on Saturday.
Normally, two wins against Santa Clara would be enough to stamp and NCAA Tournament place for any team, but Cal has unfortunately caught them in a down year, and the Golden Bears go into league play having not beaten a team higher than #71 in the RPI. They also have had just one shot at that big win and came close to sealing a draw but fell in the last minutes of extra time to Texas Tech a few weeks back in a crushing defeat. They recovered to top Santa Clara for a second time and beat Pacific last week in a resounding 3-0 result but are still very much teetering near the bubble as league play begins. The defense has been generally strong, and while keeping just five clean sheets from nine matches, they’ve also not conceded multiple goals once this season. With Ifeoma Onumonu out for the season, Cal’s needed new faces on offense to step up, and that face thus far has been Taylor Comeau, who leads the club with six goals and three assists to her name, including three game winning goals thus far. The senior’s going to be even under more pressure to deliver the goods in league play, with Cal needing some wins to stay on the right side of the bubble. A win over Colorado wouldn’t be decisive by any means, but it would be another boost to the Golden Bears’ NCAA Tournament hopes.