Coach Shellie Onstead currently sits at 198 career wins, all of which have been earned at the helm of the Cal field hockey team.
By the end of this weekend, she could post number 200.
First, however, the No. 12 Bears will have to fend off UC Davis on Friday at 7 p.m. and Stanford on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Maxwell Family Field. These two matches mark Cal’s final homestand, though the squad has one more tilt against the Aggies (3-8, 1-1 in the NorPac) left in the conference slate.
“I expect a step-up in our level for these last matches,” coach Shellie Onstead said. “We’ve really been working hard this week, taking it as a mini-training camp so we can set ourselves up for the postseason.
“We just went back to our basic skillwork and fundamentals. Because when it comes down to it, we need to be able to execute under pressure.”
Cal (11-2, 2-1) hasn’t struggled to come up big when backed into a corner. The Bears are coming off their third overtime victory of the year with a 3-2 decision over Drexel in Philadelphia, where they picked up three wins in three games.
Those games, in addition to a win over Pacific, helped Cal regain its late-season momentum after dropping games to Stanford and Northwestern in the middle of the season.
“You never want to take a step down at any time,” co-captain Erin Magill said. “We just want to keep building towards the postseason even after we had that little mid-season hiccup.”
Over their current four-game winning streak, the Bears have outscored their opponents 16 to 4 with senior goalkeeper Maddie Hand recording two shutouts in the process.
On Friday, the Bears will take their momentum against UC Davis at home, where Cal is undefeated this season. The Aggies, in only their third season after being re-established, have struggled as of late, losing seven of their last eight matches. They are however, coming off a win, 3-1, against Penn.
While Cal has defeated UC Davis in their last four matchups, coach Onstead knows that this will still be a tough match against an opponent hungry to prove itself.
“They’re a very dangerous team because they’re so hard to put away,” Onstead said. “They have a lot of heart, a lot of skilled players, and they’re really fast on this turf.”
This Friday’s match will be followed by a key rematch against Stanford (10-2, 3-0) on Sunday and another matchup against Davis on the road before the Bears head off to the NorPac Tournament and a likely NCAA bid. The players however are still focused on each individual match, starting with Davis.
“I expect us to come out really excited and maybe a bit anxious at first because of the week off,” Magill said. ”But I expect our specialty skills will be better because we’ve had more time to work and practice on them this week.”
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