Until five minutes remained, the ASU soccer team thought it played the better game.
ASU was tied at No. 11 Cal until redshirt sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Semerad was issued a devastating red card for tackle in the penalty box with four minutes remaining.
The red card led to a penalty kick for Cal. Senior midfielder Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick converted the chance, scoring her second goal of the game, and gave the Golden Bears a 2-1 victory.
ASU redshirt sophomore goalie Chandler Morris made a difficult save on the preceding shot but couldn’t quite corral the ball, leading to a scramble in the box. Semerad committed the foul to prevent the Cal attacker from scoring, said ASU coach Kevin Boyd.
“Mackenzie Semerad basically grabbed her by the shoulder and dragged her to the ground before she could get to the shot, which is a foul as the last player back,” Boyd said.
The Golden Bears (8-0-3, 1-0-1 Pac-12) initially took the lead in the 13th minute, when Fitzpatrick split ASU’s defense on a breakaway and her shot beat Morris to her left.
“She was one of the main players we needed to shut down, and obviously we didn’t do that in the first half,” Boyd said. “Great individual effort on her part.”
ASU (6-4, 1-1 Pac-12) trailed 1-0 at the half, despite a myriad of dangerous opportunities. The Sun Devils and Golden Bears each took eight shots in the half, but ASU had six on goal compared to two for Cal.
“I thought we created an awful lot of great chance,” Boyd said. “We didn’t capitalize on those chances, which was a little bit disappointing. That is a bit of the game of soccer.”
Cal senior goalie Emily Kruger used her instincts to know when to come off her line, thwarting ASU’s chances by taking away their angles on shots.
ASU finally broke through in the second half, when redshirt freshman midfielder Lucy Lara found senior defender Kaitlyn Pavlovich on a free kick from near midfield. Pavlovich headed the ball in for her first goal of the season, and the second of her career.
“Kaitlyn actually was going to take the kick, bit I wanted her height in the box,” Boyd said. “With Lucy’s left foot she can hit a good ball. Plus, when she hits it left-footed it tends to bend, and I wanted it bending into the goal for our runners.”
Cal’s offense struggled for most of the second half, but caught a break when they were awarded a penalty kick.
ASU next plays No. 2 Stanford on Sunday.
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