Friday night saw a battle between longtime rivals who happen to be the West Coast’s lone premiere field hockey teams. This matchup, between No. 12 Cal and No. 8 Stanford, certainly lived up to the hype.
Both squads traded early punches, but the Cardinal gained the upper hand midway through the match and held on for a 3-2 victory. The Bears rallied furiously to attempt a comeback, cutting their deficit to one goal with less than two minutes remaining. Nevertheless, when the teams left Varsity Turf in Stanford, Calif., Cal found itself with only its second defeat of the season.
“As usual, it was a hard-fought Stanford-Cal contest,” Cal coach Shellie Onstead said. “I anticipate that kind of game against Stanford every time we play them.”
The action started early as both teams came out with an aggressive attack. The Cardinal got on the board first with a goal by defender Kelsey Lloyd, leaving Cal (8-2) with an early deficit only 1:37 into the match.
This goal marked only the second time all season that the Bears allowed their opponents to score first. The previous occurrence also took place in defeat — a 3-1 loss to Northwestern on Sept. 16.
Even with the early lead, the Cardinal failed to build any momentum as the Bears struck back less than two minutes later with forward Rachelle Comeau’s fifth goal of the season.
“From that point on it was a typical battle,” Onstead said.
The next 35 minutes or so of play saw a rash of saves and defensive stoppages by both teams. During that time, the squads combined for 13 shots without netting a goal.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the second period, a Bears’ foul provided the Cardinal with the opportunity they needed to break the tie as Stanford defender Becky Dru knocked one into the goal off the penalty corner.
Less than two minutes later, another Cal foul led to Dru’s second goal of the game and her team-leading ninth of the season.
“Becky Dru had two really great flicks right into the cage,” forward Andrea Earle said. “And that was the difference of the game right there.
Added Onstead: “That really put us on our heels for the rest of the match.”
The Bears were able to recover and outshoot the Cardinal, 4-2, the rest of the way, including Comeau’s second goal of the game off an assist by Earle.
However, as the Bears began to see the momentum of the match shift in their favor, the final whistle blew and the Cardinal escaped with the one-goal victory.
“It would have been more interesting if we had three or four more minutes,” Onstead said. “You could tell we were really pushing it at the end”
Like in their previous loss against Northwestern, the Bears were once again able to bounce right back from a rare defeat to shut out Pacific, 4-0, on Sunday at Maxwell Field. The Bears saw goals from four different players en route to their eighth victory of the year, and a season sweep of Pacific.