Through the first 69 minutes of the Cal field hockey team’s match against UC Davis, it looked like Bears coach Shellie Onstead would have to wait another week to get her 200th win.
Down 2-0 late in Sunday’s match, it wasn’t until the last minute of play before the No. 14 Bears showed legitimate signs of a comeback.
And when that time came, Cal (13-3, 4-2 in the NorPac) didn’t let up.
The Bears scored two last minute goals to tie the game up with no time left in regulation. And as it done all season, Onstead’s squad didn’t give its opponent much time to recover in overtime, rallying for the 3-2 victory.
From the start of the match, the underdog Aggies (3-11, 1-4) attacked Cal’s half of the field, amassing seven shots and six penalty corners over the first half.
At the 11-minute mark, junior forward Emily Mecke gathered in a rebound off a Davis penalty corner and deflected the ball into net for the first goal of the game. This was an ominous sign, as the Bears have found so much success gaining early leads this season but have allowed the opponent to score first in all of their three losses this year.
“We struggled in the first half which was kind of anticipated,” coach Shellie Onstead said. “They tend to come out with so much energy and that’s exactly what happened.”
Things didn’t get much better for Cal as Mecke scored her second goal of the game, stealing the ball in front of the Cal net and giving the Aggies a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
The Bears came out of halftime ready to make a run, and things started to look up for their offense as the ball was constantly near the Aggie net. Cal outshot Davis 9-2 in the second half, but for a long while, the team’s opportunities weren’t being converted into goals.
“I feel like we played really well in the second half,” Onstead said. “We were on their half of the field but it was just taking a while for us to get goals.”
It took the Bears all the way till the final minute of play before their persistence finally paid off.
The rally began when senior forward Megan Shimojima deflected in Cal’s first goal of the game and the team was suddenly within striking distance but with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
With 30 seconds left, Cal was awarded a penalty corner in what could have easily been its last scoring opportunity of the game.
This time, the team wasted no time converting as forward Andrea Earle took the feed from defender Erin Magill off the penalty corner and the game was suddenly tied at 2.
“I think our confidence as a team really helped us in those last minutes,” Shimojima said. “And then we’ve been so good in overtime that we didn’t have any doubt that we would pull it out.”
As they’ve done all season, the Bears scored quickly in overtime as Shimojima struck the tie-breaking blow, capping off the improbable comeback.
“We’re really confident in our ability to score,” Shimojima said. “But I think even we were a little surprised we were able to do it so quickly and under that pressure.”
The Bears ended their regular season with 13 wins and also gave coach Onstead her 200th career victory, all here at Cal.
“I wouldn’t say we played a complete game,” Onstead said. “But the way we won and the way this team was able to fight back really shows the resolve these girls have.”