Cal field hockey was able to prove that they can compete this past weekend after picking up two away victories while traveling to the East Coast. After a blowout 8-0 win against Bryant University, the team found themselves in a tough battle against Northeastern. The Bears were faced with an extra player on the field when the Huskies pulled their goalie in an attempt to even things out late into the game, but the defense held. The Bears prevailed with a 2-1 win that should provide some momentum to carry the team for the next game against Pacific.
“You can’t deny the momentum,” Cal head coach Shellie Onstead said. “It makes a big difference to see we’re on a good path, and each game, I have some specific goals in mind to accomplish and get some building blocks in place, and I think the team has done a good job with that. I have alluded to it in my comments on our last write-up that I am really about getting the building blocks in place, and we’re less about the outcomes right now and more about building something that is sustainable that’s going to work for us and have us do well at the end of the year.”
The Bears offensive unit put up a total of 10 goals this past weekend, with half of those goals coming from freshman Megan Rodgers. Rodgers recorded a hat trick against Bryant and went on to score the team’s two goals against Northeastern. While Rodgers dominated offensively, all eyes were on sophomore Davis native goalkeeper Danielle Mentink, who earned her first career shutout against Bryant and was able to hold up against Northeastern’s final attempts to win the game. Both Rodgers and Mentink received honors after their striking performance. Rodgers took home a Player of the Week award, as well as a Rookie of the Week award, while Mentink received a Defensive Player of the Week award.
“I think it’s a good confidence builder for (Mentink and Rodgers), and it affects the whole team,” Onstead said. “It’s really nice to see them get some acknowledgement. We have always known that those two are tough players.”
These two away wins put the Bears at 3-3 overall, after starting 1-3 at home. Most of their conference schedule will be played on the road, so these two wins were particularly important. Being able to put up points and defend against aggressive teams definitely proves that this Cal team is not only able to win games, but it also sends a message to other teams that they are able to compete. This weekend’s performance by the Bears is not to be overlooked by other teams.
“I think it’s critical because our conference tournament is away, and that is essentially what you are preparing for,” Onstead said. “We’re like a lot of sports where the conference tournament really determines your gateway to the NCAA tournament for the most part, so I consider this preparation.”
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]