This weekend, Cal field hockey had a chance to clinch the America East Conference West division title since 2015 when they faced off against AEC rivals UC Davis at Underhill Field and No. 18 Stanford in Palo Alto. Their first matchup on Friday resulted in a 3-2 overtime win over UC Davis, but the Bears struggled Sunday night and were shutout 4-0 against Stanford.
Friday night’s game against UC Davis was of special importance because the Bears were celebrating Senior Night and the team was hoping to end their season at Underhill with a proper sendoff for their seniors. Cal’s fan base showed up that night to add to this occasion and their pride and cheers most definitely drowned out the Aggie fans in the stands. The “Go Bears” cheers were loud enough to distract anyone in the neighboring dorms and most importantly, the visiting team.
“The crowd was fantastic,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “They kept the energy up and the players didn’t ever hang their head they just kept working and working.”
The game started off with equal aggressiveness from both teams. It stayed scoreless until Cal’s goal in the 20th minute from junior Melina Moore set the mood. Soon after Cal’s goal, the Aggies scored from outside the circle in the 26th minute, but Cal made sure to return the favor when they converted a corner into a goal in 27th minute off the stick of senior Mara Gutierrez. By the end of the half, the Bears were up 2-1.
In the second half, the Bears came out once again and pressured UC Davis’ defense but they were able to withstand Cal’s strong offensive unit. Cal was unable to convert their offensive chances into goals and UC Davis took advantage during a hiccup and tied the game in the 58th minute.
The final minutes before the end of regulation were extremely tense. Davis’ goalkeeper sophomore Chelsea Bigelow gave the Bears some trouble with incredible saves including what would have been the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute from sophomore Gabi Jimenez. Freshman Megan Rodgers’ last-minute efforts were also unsuccessful. In the 67th minute, she hit the post and a shot in the 68th was hit wide. The game remained 2-2 to end the second half.
In overtime, Cal controlled the game but Bigelow continued to give the Bears trouble. The entire crowd was standing up as the overtime period intensified. Cal kept the shots coming, but Davis persisted and blocked them all. Eventually, the Bears were able to win the game in overtime from a goal off the stick of Rodgers. Cal finished with a whopping 32 shots and 13 corners while Davis accumulated seven shots and two corners.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Onstead said. “I predicted privately with the coaches that we might get into overtime today just because I knew Davis was gonna fight so hard. It’s a really great win because (the team) pulled together and had to play out of position and they didn’t give up. That’s what a coach loves to see.”
After earning a win against Davis, Cal needed to win on Sunday at Stanford in order to clinch the division title. If Cal lost, they’d share it with Stanford. The Bears struggled all season against ranked teams and although they upset Stanford last week, the Cardinal were too much for Cal as they were shut out for the third time this season in a 4-0 loss.
With the loss of sophomore Lindsay Mathison, Cal had a lack of stability in the midfield which resulted in a difficult time converting on offense. They were held to eight shots, their second-lowest shot count of the season.
The Bears broke down on defense and allowed four goals from a dominant Stanford offensive front led by fifth-year Kristina Bassi and freshman Corinne Zanolli. The Cardinal goals came from Bassi in the 19th, 34th and 53rd minutes and in the 22nd minute from Zanolli.
Despite the loss to Stanford, the Bears ended their regular season on a good note. Considering the fact that they are 9-7 overall and clinched a share of their division title with Stanford. They will pick up from where they left off when they venture on into the AEC Championship playoffs starting November 2nd.
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]