The Cal field hockey team is finally working out of its funk, but it may be too early to celebrate.
In the Friday night game against Pacific (5-10, 1-3) at Maxwell Family Field, the Bears (5-8, 1-3 in NorPac) collected their first conference win in a 5-0 shutout against Pacific. The weekend ended with a rematch against the Tigers. The Sunday rematch at Stockton, however, resulted in a close, disappointing 2-1 loss.
The Sunday game showcased a Cal team different from the Friday one. Under the added pressure of being on the road during the opposing team’s senior night, the Bears could not duplicate Friday’s success.
“We played well enough to win,” coach Shellie Onstead said. “But [Pacific] played a good game, and I don’t want to take that away from them.”
On Sunday, the Bears statistically played a better game than the Tigers. Cal was hovering inside the schooting circle, tallying 46 circle penetrations to Pacific’s 20. The Bears also outshot the Tigers, 24-15.
The Tigers’ senior day celebrations, however, proved to be too much of a distraction for the Bears.
“I told them before that it would be really dangerous,” Onstead said. “I’m not going to lie, the celebration after was huge.”
Sunday’s win for Pacific marks the Tigers’ first regular season conference win in three years.
On Friday, however, the Bears did not have any problems converting shots into goals.
In the shutout, sophomore forward Lara Kruggel scored all five goals in Friday’s matchup.In addition to Sunday’s lone goal, Kruggel now has a team-leading 15 goals.
Cal got off to a slow start and was not able to connect for much of the first half.
With only five minutes left in the first half, the Bears were able to convert off of a penalty corner. Senior defender Deanna Kennedy took the penalty and passed to Shannon Elmitt, who found Kruggel on the right side for the only goal of the first half.
The second half showcased a much more aggressive Bears offense as Kruggel scored four goals within ten minutes.
Nineteen minutes into the second half, Kruggel attacked with her second goal of the game. Elmitt passed to Kruggel from the left side to double the score.
Two minutes later on the 56th minute, Kruggel was back with another goal assisted by Allie Swartz after a broken corner.
Kruggel did not stop at three. Instead at the 60th and 63rd minutes, Kruggel had two more goals to lead the offense to a 5-0 victory, both assisted by Elmitt.
The Bears outshot the Tigers 27-7, proving that the Cal offense is recovering from its former slump with an aggressive offense. This improvement comes particularly with the help of Kennedy and Laura Spellman, who have been playing midfield instead of defense as part of a revamped offense.
“Her and Spellman are doing nicely in midfield, and I definitely think it has been a positive change,” Onstead said.
Jessica Lim covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]