The saying ‘nothing is sweeter than revenge’ will have particular resonance for Cal field hockey this week, as they set their sights on avenging their most recent defeat. The Bears (4-9, 1-3 NorPac) look to quickly turnaround from an 2-0 loss to NorPac rival UC Davis (4-8, 2-1 NorPac) and start getting some much needed wins on the board, with only 4 games left until the NorPac tournament. Cal will have a bitter taste in its mouth after the Aggies remained undefeated at home despite a close contest that could very well have gone the Bears way.
On Sunday, the Bears host Davis to try to build upon earlier promising results, including a close loss to highly ranked Duke, that revived optimism in the ranks before their recent stumbles. The Bears will hope to make this game extra special for the trio of Jordan O’Reilly, Shannon Elmitt and Allie Swartz, who all celebrate their senior day at this game.
“We need to play our game on our surface (to win the game),” Onstead said, “It’ll speak for itself.”
The Aggies boast an impressive front line led by senior Cloey Lemon and freshman standout Agustina Singh, who form a potent attacking duo between them. Lemon leads the team with eleven points, and Singh tops the team in shots taken with 29. The weaknesses for the visitors will be at the back, where the Aggies start senior goalkeeper Danielle Herrington. She has struggled this season giving up an average of 2.78 goals per game, but still managed to shutout the Bears last week. The Bears will need to get more shots on target to test Herrington to win, as they failed to muster many threatening attempts despite being even in open play.
But, the UC Davis also played on their home turf at Aggie Stadium, which made it hard for Cal to keep a handle on their opponents as they attempted to adjust to the subtleties of the surface. Cal tried to change their game plan, but UC Davis was just too impressive, maintaining the perfect home record that was one of the Aggies’s main objectives heading into the season.
“The biggest difference between the two games is that we’ll be playing on the prescribed surface for Division I field hockey this weekend,” Onstead said. “Last weekend, we were on a football field.”
For the upcoming rematch, the Bears hope to counter the likes of Lemon and Singh with one of the best goalkeepers in the NorPac, Courtney Hendrickson. She has impressively averaged a 78% save percentage and allowed just 1.9 goals per game average. The Bears will need production at both ends of the field to come back and defeat UC Davis, and they will rely on some of their other key players to produce some of their best games of the season. The Bears hope to have the important spine of the team, Midfielder Shannon Elmitt and Defender Clara Goni, back healthy and 100%, but Coach Onstead won’t know if they can play until Saturday.
“I think we just need to be relentless. Our loss last weekend had nothing to do with who the better team was. With them coming to us, on our turf, I don’t see a problem with us killing them,” said injured forward Andrea Earle. “You always play better when you have a home field advantage. They beat Stanford on their field and both Stanford and Cal are way better teams than Davis. Don’t get me wrong, Davis is a great team with great players, but I just feel like we’re going to win.”
As the Bears wind down their season, they hope to start a new winning streak in preparation for the NorPac conference tournament, their performance at which will determine whether or not Cal receives an NCAA bid. The season hasn’t gone perfectly thus far, with injuries decimating what is on paper a strong lineup, but if the Bears can start add to their win total, starting with a rebound performance against the Aggies, they can enter the NorPac tourney with a renewed confidence in their abilities, and in their chances of being a part of the NCAA tournament.
Glenn Borok covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected].