There are no easy games in this league, but Cal field hockey made it look simple this Saturday at Underhill Field. After an impressive previous weekend where the Bears won two in a row on the road, they have continued the trend this weekend with another win. This game was like a walk in the park for Cal, nearly shutting out Pacific in their first conference game of the season, 4-1.
Cal set the tone quickly with a score off the stick of sophomore Katrina Carter six minutes into the game. After that, the Bears were off on a scoring spree with four unanswered goals coming from senior Mara Gutierrez (her first of the season) freshman Maddie Cleat and junior Melina Moore.
“I could feel the energy of the whole team in the locker room,” Gutierrez said. “We seemed focused and ready to go. I knew we were gonna come out with a lot of energy but I didn’t think I would score. I knew it was going to be a good game no matter what happened.”
Cal outshot Pacific having attempted 11 shots, with nine of them on goal, compared to the Tiger’s 10 shots with five on goal. Sophomore goaltender Danielle Mentink was stingy, preventing four out of Pacific’s five shots on goal, including a significant save on a penalty stroke. Although the Bears had fewer corners than their opponent for the first time this season, three out of Cal’s four corners resulted in a goal.
“This week we were really focused on three things: scoring positions, playing the ball simple, and back tackling,” Gutierrez said. “Those three things really showed in today’s game so I think if we continue to work on that we’ll be fine.”
The Bears were set to shutout yet another team this season until Pacific’s senior Emma Leach came and soiled the plan by scoring late into the last half. Mentink returned the favor by shutting down Pacific’s behind schedule scoring efforts. The solution to Pacific’s problems came too late to be of any use and the Bears cruised to victory.
“It’s just onto the next one,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “Whether you lose or win, we’re still talking about the process and we just want to take what we learned from this game and go onto the next one. It’s certainly validating to get a win like this and it’s really important to do it in conference (games) but it’s meaningless if we stumble next weekend.”
The Bears are now sending a clear message to opposing teams that they are a team to beat. After Saturday’s performance, the team seems to be running like a well oiled machine, ready to take on any team in its path.
“The defense has been actually very good for a few years but we’re now adding the component to scoring which changes the whole dynamic in a game where the other team can’t be quite as aggressive,” Onstead said. “We’re able to put the two components together now and it’s just taken us a little while to put the pieces in place but now we’ve got them.”
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]