Even after suffering its second loss of the season, the Cal field hockey team finds itself right back where it was following its 5-0 start.
This past weekend, the Bears split their two conference matchups – losing to No. 6 Stanford, 3-2, on the road before dispatching Pacific, 4-0, at Maxwell Field.
Despite the loss, Cal still managed to move up the rankings from No. 12 to No. 11 while the Stanford moved from No. 8 to No. 6.
Starting Thursday at 1 p.m. against Saint Joseph’s, the Bears (8-2) will embark on a three-game roadtrip to Drexel’s Buckley Field in Philadelphia. to take on three local schools: Saint Joe’s, Temple and Drexel.
Cal’s rise to national prominence this season has been led by its aggressive offensive attack, which ranks among the best in the nation.
The Bears’ goal-per-game average of 4.00 is tied for third among all NCAA Division I programs and their average scoring margin of 2.17 is good enough for 10th in the country.
Sophomore forward Andrea Earle leads the squad with 26 points and 10 goals and is 12th in the NCAA with an average of 2.50 points per game. Behind her are forwards Megan Shimojima and Rachelle Comeau who are tied with six goals each.
Cal hopes to continue its dominance on this roadtrip as they take on Saint Joseph’s on Thursday afternoon.
The Hawks (2-5) have struggled this season, with their opponents outscoring them by a margin of 23-14 over their first seven matches.
Saint Joseph’s plays in the relatively obscure Atlantic-10 conference, which did not have a team that received votes in the most recent coaches poll. In their two victories this season, the Hawks defeated Penn, 3-1, and Lehigh, 1-0, both at home.
With the Bears likely being their toughest and highest ranked opponent of the season, Saint Joseph will look to play spoiler for a team with national championship aspirations.
“Thursday at 4 p.m. we will take on 12th-ranked Cal,” wrote senior forward Ellen Rowe on the Saint Joseph’s blog. “And you can bet that we will be fighting all the way ’til the last buzzer. Time for redemption.”
Apparently, the Hawks are still bitter about last year’s contest with the Bears. Saint Joseph’s traveled to Berkeley last August for a preseason tilt, only to be blanked, 3-0.
In one of her first matches as a Bear, Earle caught coach Shellie Onstead’s eye, registering a goal, an assist and three shots on goal against the Hawks.
On the other side, Rowe has been a four-year starter and one of the keystones of Saint Joseph’s offense. She currently leads her squad with 11 points and four goals.
After their match on Thursday, the Bears will stay in Philadelphia to face the struggling Temple Owls (3-6) who have lost three straight matches. On Sunday, Cal will face a tougher test against Drexel (7-3) which received eight votes in the most recent coaches poll and sits at No. 13 in the NCAA Field Hockey RPI rankings.