Cal field hockey’s rally falls short against Yale

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Too little, too late seems to adequately describe the Cal field hockey team’s game against the Yale Bulldogs (4-6, 1-2 Ivy League). The Bears (4-8, 1-2 NorPac) fought back from a three-goal deficit late in the second half and were narrowly defeated 3-2 at Maxwell Field on Saturday.

Yale’s midfielders tore up Cal’s defense throughout the game as Georgia Holland provided two assists for fellow midfielders Emily Schuckert and Nicole Wells. The Bulldogs exposed a frail Bears’ defense, one that has allowed 13 goals and 78 shots in their current four-game losing streak.

Shots coming from the Yale side were few, but well-placed. The Bulldogs’ offense took only 13 and beat Cal’s star goalie Courtney Hendrickson a total of three times. Two goals came off penalty corners caused by what can best be described as foolish mistakes by an overly aggressive defense. Forward Erica Borgos’ early second-half goal proved to be the nail in the coffin for a Cal team that came out flat.

“Our defense is hurting right now — that’s definitely something we need to work on,” said coach Shellie Onstead.

Momentum favored the Bulldogs, who seemed to have clinched the win early on in the match and never looked back. The Bears, however, would not go down quietly in the second half.

The Bulldogs defense seemed unprepared for the impending firestorm that would be midfielder Lara Kruggel in the second half. In the 60th minute of play, one of Kruggel’s shots — she had six throughout the game — shook the back of the net and lifted the spirits of what had appeared to be a beaten Bears unit. It took only six more minutes for Kruggel to find the goal again and cut the deficit to only one goal.

“Lara has been playing injured, so for her to push through and get back to what she’s good at was awesome,” Onstead said.

There finally seemed to be some life in the Cal offense, which hasn’t been relevant since the Bears’ near upset of Duke several weeks ago.

With only five minutes left in the game, Onstead took Hendrickson out of the cage and put her on the attack, desperately trying to give her squad a chance with the extra man and a shot at their fifth bout of overtime this season. The Yale defense, however, did not falter, fending off the pressing Bears offense in the closing minutes of the second half and earning the team’s fourth victory of the season.

“A lot of this game was just about having faith in your team. That you can come back and win. I was really pleased that the girls didn’t give up out there and fought until the end,” Onstead said.

The Bears have now dropped four in a row, which has been unheard of under coach Onstead’s leadership. “We have a very good program here. We need to start playing strong fundamental field hockey,” Onstead said.

Cal will look to do just that against a strong UC Davis team on the road this Sunday.

Christian Legg covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected].