After a surprising start to the season, Cal field hockey was tested to see if they were real when they faced off against No. 5 Penn State and No. 25 Ohio State. The results are in, and the Bears defeat might be explained by the fact that their difficult schedule has caught up to them.
“I’m encouraged by the trajectory of the weekend,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “I thought we played a really good second half against Penn State with equal shots and more corners which kinda shows that once we’ve figured things out, we can play them even. I think the group learned a lot from it.”
The Bears cruised into the weekend riding a six game win streak hoping to keep it alive. The streak came to an unexpected halt this weekend when No. 5 Penn State and No. 25 Ohio State handed Cal two tough losses at the Buckeye Invitational.
Although the end of the Cal’s streak has ended, it’s worth it to note that Cal avoided a loss for more than a month as they played excellent field hockey and captivated the community. Both losses this weekend were marked by resilient performances, but the Bears were unable to hold on.
Cal’s first loss was delivered by Penn State in a tough battle. The Bears were held to one shot during a dismal first half offensive performance. The Lions, on the other hand, tallied 10 shots and led 1-0 at the end of 35 minutes.
The second half was initiated by Penn State’s junior Katie Dembrowski, who found the back of the cage and increased the Lion’s lead to 2-0. Soon after, Cal sophomore Femke Delissen scored her first goal of the season and tightened the game 2-1. Delissen’s goal gave the Bears some hope but it wasn’t enough for the team to get a grip on the game which led to a win for No. 5 Penn State.
The Bear’s second matchup against No. 25 Ohio State resulted in a dramatic comeback for the Buckeyes that would be decided in double overtime. Cal was up 2-0 40 minutes into the second half when the Buckeyes capitalized and caged two swift shots in three minutes which brought both teams to a tie 53 minutes into the game.
The Bears’ defense pressured Ohio State for the rest of the regular time period and continued to do so leading up to the end of the second overtime period. They couldn’t hold up forever though, and Ohio State’s sophomore Esther Clotet Alsina scored the game winner in the 98th minute.
“I actually think we could have taken (the win) in regulation with a little bit better game management in the second half at Ohio State,” Onstead said. “Once you get into over time, it’s seven on seven so it’s a very different game and it is really exciting.”
The Bears should learn from their mistakes and come better prepared for the task at hand. No matter how qualified the team may seem, there’s always a chance that they can be stumped and fail. Cal still has not had a start like this in 10 years. Although it wasn’t anticipated that Cal would improve dramatically this year, it should be expected that they will look back at this weekend and better prepare themselves for their next matchups in order to get back on track and get to the playoffs.
“In the words of Cal Bear Aaron Rodgers, ‘Relax. We’re going to be OK,’ ” Onstead said.
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]