If you didn’t follow Cal’s field hockey team (9-8) throughout the entirety of its season, you definitely missed out. All things considered, the Bears’ season meant so much more than ending one game over .500. With the surprising emergence of impressive athletes on both sides of the ball and a proper home, Cal’s season was far from ordinary.
Cal was successful for a variety of reasons. For starters, they posted their first winning season since 2011 and earned a share of the West division title in the American East Conference along with No. 17 Stanford and Pacific. The title is so much sweeter considering the fact that Cal shared this title with Stanford who has given the Bears trouble for years.
The Bears’ season was also successful because they finally had their own home. After years of practicing and playing on fields that weren’t built specifically for field hockey, Cal celebrated the completion of Underhill Field that fans and players could finally call home. With the newly included bleachers and fans to fill them, Underhill gave the Bears a proper home field advantage and a competitive edge over visiting teams.
“Having the facility complete is great,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “I attribute a lot (of the team’s success to having the field complete) because we finally had a normal training environment and an environment to compete in at our new home field with the band and the fans and that made a huge difference.”
Freshman Megan Rodgers headlined the Bears who made headlines this past season. Rodgers earned both America East All-Conference and All-Rookie honors and tallied 17 goals, the sixth-most in a single season by a Cal athlete. Junior Melina Moore, who had eight goals this season, moved within two goals of being in the top 10 of goals scored in school history.
Other top scoring and assisting athletes among the Bear’s squad this season include sophomore Katrina Carter with four goals, Femke Delissen with nine assists and Lindsay Mathison with six assists. Cal will also have their tough goalkeeper Danielle Mentink return, who had four games this season in which she tallied double-digit saves.
The Bears will lose two seniors this year, Alie Zimmer and Mara Gutierrez. Should everyone return, the rest of the returning squad will feature five seniors, eight juniors and nine sophomores. Cal will have a young team, but they will also have more years to work with them.
“We’re saying goodbye to five seniors (after next season), but we have a bright future with the rest of the team that is still with us,” Onstead said.
Overall, this Cal team had a positive season. Despite their roller coaster-like season, the performance, grit and competitiveness that they displayed this year gave us a glance at what is still to come in the next few years under head coach Shellie Onstead.
“We’re gonna keep getting better,” Onstead said. “We’ve laid a good foundation and we’re trying to establish the culture of success and we’re shifting away from the culture of survival. We’re going to be fun to watch and the next few years are gonna be pretty exciting.”
Jesus Aceves covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected]