The Cal field hockey team seemed to feed off the crowd’s energy as its season-opening game started with high intensity and quick passes from the whistle. The Bears faced off against Northeastern in Berkeley on Sunday, attracting a large number of fans to their new field at Underhill Field.
“One of my thoughts coming into the day is that this is probably one of the biggest crowds that these guys have played for,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “I wasn’t sure how that would affect them, but I think it went really well, and they showed that they can handle that.”
Though Cal was in control for the majority of the match, competition was stiff. The Bears were able to string together passes and switch the field, but when the ball went into the defensive quarter, it was often stuck there for minutes and resulted in a penalty corner for Northeastern. The abundance of short corners made it clear that the Cal defense had to buckle down in order to avoid putting junior goalkeeper Kori Griswold on the spot.
Northeastern scored the first goal of the game on a penalty corner during the 22nd minute of the first half. Although the Cal defenders huddled up, strategizing on how they could block the impending shot with a statistical disadvantage, they were slow to react to the play. If anything, however, the goal seemed to spark Cal’s energy.
The game started back up with Cal players, including sophomore Keats Iwanaga, making crucial defensive saves to keep the score at 1-0 at halftime.
During the usual halftime chat, the girls were in good spirits, dancing along to Cal band’s rendition of “Take On Me” — the score did not seem to phase them.
Going into the second half, the Bears were unable to finish until sophomore Melina Moore took advantage of a quick transition and an assist from senior Nicole Henriksson to score Cal’s first goal of the day.
About 10 minutes later, Moore tipped the ball to sophomore Janaye Sakkas who very swiftly blasted the ball past Northeastern goalkeeper for Cal’s second goal to put the score in Cal’s favor, 2-1.
“It was a rush of adrenaline,” Sakkas said. “Getting it in and the hug afterwards was just an amazing feeling. That is something you want to do every game.”
It all came down to what happened after the clock ran out. For the final minutes of the game, Cal was focused on possessing, but a slip-up in the final seconds resulted in yet another Husky penalty corner. As the clock flashed zero, Northeastern was able to convert the corner into a goal, bringing the game to a 15-minute golden goal overtime.
Freshman Lindsay Mathison took two shots in overtime, but a goal scored by Northeastern’s Natalie Stewart ended the game in a disappointing loss for the Bears.
“We played a couple (overtimes) in our exhibitions, and I think they actually handled it really well. We just got a little unlucky with the corner play,” Onstead said. “Eleven corners to 0 is a big problem, so that is something we are going to need to address.”