Cal’s field hockey has done it again, remaining undefeated in its past six games after a narrow performance against neighboring UC Davis. Winning over a conference opponent added to the Bears’ impressive tally this year and put them at 2-0 in the American East Conference. With each win like this, the Bears inch closer to earning a spot in the top 25.
“(The) conference is critical,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “We’ve had a hard time winning on the road in conference games the past couple of years, so it was pretty good to get a win in our first away conference game.”
The first half of the game belonged to the Bears, who started off hot and immediately tallied two goals in the first 10 minutes. Both goals were scored by energetic freshman Megan Rodgers, her fourth game in which she has produced multiple scores.
Cal controlled the entire first half on both sides of the ball, producing eight shots, with half of those on goal, while completely shutting down the Aggies’ offense, which could not get off a shot. Playing on their own field, Davis’s offense should have felt comfortable, but they failed to show in the first 35 minutes.
The second half was a different story, introducing the arrival of a more effortful Davis team. The Aggies arrived fashionably late into the game and netted their first goal in the 56th minute and their second in the 66th minute. Davis was penalized, and the Bear’s junior Melina Moore added a goal in the 60th minute to break up Davis’s hopeful comeback attempt.
“We came out and started really well,” Onstead said. “Not just from the early goal, but we had a ton of good opportunities in the circle. It’s always good to shoot more — we get more chances to convert. I think (Davis) dug in well in the second half, and we were a bit complacent. After their first goal, we felt fine — I didn’t call timeout or anything. We just kinda had to stick to our game plan and understand that they can always come back.”
This marks Cal’s best start in over a decade, but the Bears should not let anything distract them. The Bears were favorites to win against the 1-8 Aggies, but the match was competitive and both teams fought hard until the final whistle.
Though the Bears prevailed and earned a win, their second-half performance demonstrated that anything can happen. This also goes to show that although the Bears have performed efficiently in the past seven games, it’s also possible to get distracted and lose ground to a struggling team.
“It’s always a battle,” Onstead said. “We can’t take records into account when we’re playing these games — they’re always going to be close.”
This year, the team has surpassed their recent starts in the past few years. Consistency is key, so the Bears need to cut down on letting opponents back into second halves. As long as they continue to perform consistently, the Bears should be able to join the ranks of the elite teams in the nation and earn a national ranking.
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]