Coming off of a difficult weekend where Cal field hockey earned two losses against ranked teams, the Bears had the chance to recover with two opportunities against conference opponents in No. 25 Pacific and No. 16 Stanford this weekend. The Bears extended a three-game skid with a loss to Pacific on Friday the 13th but earned a huge win against No. 16 Stanford to continue Cal’s weekend of Pac-12 upsets.
For sports across Cal, Friday the 13th was a day characterized by the unexpected. In their first match of the weekend, the Bears had a rematch against American East rivalPacific. Although the Bears beat the Tigers 4-1 in their first meeting, they suffered an ill-fated 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday.
The Tigers got on the board first by scoring two early goals in the first half. The first goal came from Pacific’s top scorer, junior Kriekie van Wyk, in the 11th minute, followed by senior Alicia Muiños in the 18th minute, and Pacific led 2-0 at the end of the half.
The Bears were more active in the second half, but they couldn’t quite pull off the comeback. Sophomore Katrina Carter assisted sophomore Lindsay Mathison and freshman Megan Rodgers, who tallied scores in the 46th minute and the 70th minute, respectively. Rodgers’ goal came after the Bears pulled their goaltender in an effort to come back, but their last-minute efforts were thwarted by the Tigers. Those scores marked Rodger’s 14th goal of the season — a mark that has now improved to 16, after the Stanford game — a notable figure for a freshman at this point of the season.
“Our problem was that we started slow, we started kinda flat,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “We weren’t really working for each other to create opportunities to get the ball, and our passing was poor. If you’re gonna spot them two goals in the first half, it’s hard to come back. We fought very well in the second half.”
On Sunday, Cal trounced No. 16 Stanford, who struggled mightily against the Bear’s defense. The Cardinal scored both of their goals in the second half, by which point their defensive collapse had sealed the fate of the game. This was the 111th meeting against the two teams. Cal had not beaten Stanford since 2015, and this upset win surely put the team back on track.
Cal’s goals came from the sticks of junior Melina Moore, senior Mara Gutierrez and Rodgers. The Bears led 2-0 at the half after Moore and Rodgers scored in the 10th and 29th minute, respectively.
In the second half, Stanford picked up its slack with a score from freshman Corinne Zanolli in the 42nd minute, but the Bears were sure to keep a cap on Stanford’s offensive efforts by scoring two more before Stanford’s final goal in the 67th minute.
“It’s kind of fun to be the underdog,” Onstead said. “(I said to the team), ‘Just trust in your game, take care of the little things and do what you’ve been doing well. Don’t worry about the last three losses — just learn from them.’ Like I’ve been saying all year, baby steps, put things in place and this will pay off, and it did today.”
So far this season, Cal had failed to triumph over ranked teams until Sunday’s game against Stanford. With only two games remaining on the slate, and the Cardinal representing one, if the Bears want to make a run for the conference championship, they may have to do it again.
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]