Cal field hockey splits pair of games in North Carolina

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Michael Wan/File

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The Cal field hockey team’s underclassmen were the stars this weekend as they tallied the vast majority of goals and assists in games against Appalachian State (1-7) and No. 14 Wake Forest (5-4). Coming out of the weekend with a 1-1 record, the Bears (2-6) earned their second consecutive road win Friday against Appalachian State, 2-1, but fell to Wake Forest 6-2 on Sunday.

It was a big weekend for Cal freshman Lindsay Mathison who tallied her first collegiate assist against Appalachian State and then her first goal against Wake Forest.

In Friday’s game against the Mountaineers, Cal sophomore Janaye Sakkas’ goal, which was scored not even five minutes into the game, was indicative of the fact that the Bears were out for the victory.  Even though the Mountaineers answered shortly with a goal, Cal kept the score at 1-1 through halftime, until senior Sydney Earle recorded her first goal of the season in the 40th minute of play, putting Cal in the lead. Sophomore Keats Iwanaga passed the ball to the front of the goal to put Earle in scoring position. The Bears maintained their lead for the remainder of the time and tallied season highs of 17 shots and 10 penalty corners.

Despite its win, Cal was disappointed with its performance Friday and felt like it played below its level. The Bears were much more satisfied with their efforts on Sunday against the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem where they exhibited passion and energy throughout the game.

“Before every game, we set goals like defensively, offensively and in the midfield,” said senior captain Monica Marrazzo. “We met almost all of those goals in the Wake Forest game, and we were including all of the film critiques, getting better and doing the things we have been practicing, whereas (against the Mountaineers), we got the win but we didn’t perform at our highest level, and we really ramped it up in Wake.”

While the outcome of the Wake Forest game was a 6-2 loss, it showed hope for the Cal offense, which is becoming more versatile.

Redshirt sophomore Katrina Carter scored her second goal of the season, assisted by junior Mara Gutierrez who slotted the ball across the baseline where Carter was blocking out the goalie. Carter also assisted Mathison with a ball that the freshman was able to tap into the net in the 47th minute for Cal’s second goal of the game. Despite getting blown out, the Bears, in fact, recorded more shots (12) than Wake Forest (9).

The weekend was significant because Cal involved a wide range of players in goal-scoring plays. Now that the offense is showcasing more players and consistently putting up more shots, the defense, which let in six Demon Deacon goals, needs to tighten up coverage. They especially need to prioritize identifying dangerous players, such as Wake Forest’s Nicola Pluta who scored a hat trick, and making sure they are not left unmarked in front of the goal.

“Our performance against Wake set the tone of how we can play, and seeing our performance as kind of a confidence booster,” Earle said. “I think that since we know that we can stay up with an ACC team, or one of the top teams, that we can also play that way.”

Lucy Schaefer covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]