After dropping five straight games, Cal field hockey (5-9, 2-3 NorPac) finally looked up to form in its 3-1 victory over the UC Davis Aggies (4-10, 2-2 NorPac) at Maxwell Field on Senior Day on Sunday. The Bears improved their home record this season to 5-2, displaying the true meaning of home-field advantage.
It is no secret that the Bears have experienced their share of offensive frustration in recent weeks, but no one would have guessed it by the team that showed up to play Sunday. Coach Shellie Onstead’s squad came out swinging, scoring three goals in the first half of play. It was an offensive eruption Cal has desperately needed this season and one the Aggies’ defense did not anticipate.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on attacking the goal in practice, so it was great to see that out on the field today,” Onstead said after the win.
The Bears’ offense pressed the Aggies’ defense hard all game and drew first blood off of forward Sydney Earle’s strike off of a penalty corner in the 12th minute of play. It was Earle’s third goal of the season and set the pace for the Cal offense. The knockout blow was then delivered by midfielder Lara Kruggel in the 32nd minute. Kruggel, who had two goals against Yale, continued her dominance only three minutes later, beating Davis goalie Danielle Herrington for the second time in the match. Senior midfielder Shannon Elmitt added two assists in Cal’s Senior Day victory.
Cal goalie Courtney Hendrickson, who had been quieted in the Bears’ recent slide, looked again like one of the nation’s top goaltenders in her nine-save effort against the Aggies. UC Davis took a total of 14 shots and was repeatedly turned away by Hendrickson, who brought her season total up to 105 saves and has earned a .789 save percentage, one of the top marks in collegiate field hockey.
“Senior game or not, every win is important, but the idea that this game was a tribute to our seniors who have contributed so much to our program just heightens the sense of accomplishment we feel after this win,” Hendrickson said.
The Aggies’ lone goal came off of a rebound from midfielder Jaime Garcia, who was able to beat Hendrickson in the scramble for the ball in front of the cage. This proved to be the only positive aspect of the Davis offense, as the Aggies were stymied by the Bears’ defense, which prevented the ball from advancing very far from midfield for much of the game.
It was the first game of the season that Cal looked healthy, as several key injuries have contributed to the squad’s struggles. The Bears lost star forward Andrea Earle to a quad injury early in the season and have until recently been feeling the effects of her absence.
“It was nice to have almost everybody healthy,” Onstead said to CalBears.com.
Christian Legg covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected].