No matter what happens in its last conference game against Davis, Cal field hockey will likely finish the season third in the four-team NorPac West Conference.
This Friday at 7 p.m., the Bears (5-11, 1-4 NorPac) will face the Aggies (6-10, 2-2) at Maxwell Field to end their season.
Stanford has already won the NorPac West division championship, but the NorPac champion is yet to be decided. Cal is ranked third in the West division and will likely stay there.
The NorPac champion, which will win an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, will be crowned at next week’s tournament between the West and East divisions.
This game is Cal’s last opportunity to secure a higher rank and secure a better bracket and a better playing schedule.
There is a sliver of hope that the Bears might leapfrog to second place.
The only way the team will move up to second is if Davis loses its next two games to Cal and Pacific.
Even then, this would tie Cal and Pacific for second place with identical records.
The major consequence of being third in the West division would be facing undefeated Stanford in the semifinals, a roadblock to the Bears’ NCAA hopes. The Davis game is the last opportunity for the Bears to break a four-game losing streak before entering tournament play.
After the first Stanford and Davis games, in which Cal only tallied five and four shots, respectively, the Bears moved key defenders to the midfield in an attempt to repair a disappointing offense.
This change paid off at first when Cal was able to create more opportunities. The offense, however, has still been lacking in its ability to convert shots to goals.
“We’ve made some changes in the midfield that I think worked out well,” coach Shellie Onstead said. “And the last piece is to make some changes in the frontline to give us more opportunities to finish. Friday will be critical for us as far as testing things out.”
After a disappointing loss to Stanford on Tuesday, the Bears are looking to fix some of their offensive errors.
With only four shots in the 2-0 loss to the Cardinal, Cal needs to repair its ineffective attack.
The Aggies will also be coming into Friday’s game with a four-game losing streak. Davis’ last win this season came against the Bears on Sept. 30.
The Davis offense is led by leading scorer Cloey LemMon, who has seven goals and four assists, and Jamie Garcia, who has been the NorPac West’s Rookie of the Week four times this season.
Garcia has four goals, one of which came from the last game against Cal, and seven assists.
Cal’s low rank in the NorPac West conference will make the road to a NorPac championship more difficult than what the Bears underwent last year when entering the tournament with a higher rank.
“It’s just been a different journey,” Onstead said. “I’ve been humbled by the process in terms of the regular season results, but I still have a tremendous amount of faith in this group.”
Jessica Lim covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]