From the onset of their 1 p.m. home game on Monday, the Bears (1-1) experienced deja vu in a flashback to last season’s end. After defeating No. 9 Stanford, the then-No. 15 Bears fell to a much less talented Richmond team at the NCAA play-in game in a 2-0 shutout.
Fresh off a one-goal loss against No. 1 Maryland, Cal did not want to repeat last year’s mistake and fall to a much less talented Billikens squad.
“We ended our season last year coming off a big win and then not being able to play well against a lesser team a couple days later,” coach Shellie Onstead said. “I knew this team would be sort of a repeat.”
Although successful for Cal thanks to a 2-0 lead, the first half got off to a slow start. The Bears attempted 14 shots during this half, but only managed to convert two into goals. Despite holding the lead, Onstead expected her team to have a higher conversion rate against a St. Louis side that didn’t offer strong defensive play.
Ten minutes into the game, forward Laura Kruggel was the first to put the ball in the net off of a penalty corner. Her aggressive playing style made her a target for the Billikens’ defense, often falling victim to rough tackles and intense physical play.
“She got knocked around a bit today,” Onstead said. “But after showing some frustration, she just began to answer with her stick.”
It took another 20 minutes for Cal to double its lead. Senior midfielder Kendra Bills caught the rebound shot off of teammate Caroline Struijk and placed it past Billikens’ goalie Megan Depew-Brady.
Despite their 2-0 lead at the end of the first half, the Bears weren’t playing to their full potential.
“Our low conversion rate during the first half was a very strong talking point during half time,” coach Onstead said. “The first half wasn’t good enough and we weren’t playing at our level.”
Seconds into the second half, Cal intensified their pace and aggression. Five minutes in, senior forward Rachel Comeau took her own rebound shot into the right lower corner of the Billikens’ cage. In the last 15 minutes of the game, Cal managed to put three more goals past Depew-Brady, including Kruggel’s second goal of the game. The final 6-0 blanking was unreachable for St. Louis.
“It’s a good start to the season to be able to keep the level up against both Maryland and St. Louis over the weekend,” coach Onstead said. “I feel the same I did after Maryland, which is if we’re willing to keep working hard, the sky’s the limit for the team this year.”