The Cal field hockey team only recorded a few shots across its two games this weekend and only had one that crossed the goal line. In the Bears’ game against Michigan on Sunday, Cal redshirt sophomore Katrina Carter decided she would go for a shot just before a Michigan defender made a cut in.
Carter struck the ball and it sailed past the goalkeeper. Fans cheered. Carter, however, was outside the semicircle, so the goal was recalled.
This was the general theme of the weekend. Cal just couldn’t catch a break. The Bears lost to a pair of typically well-regarded field hockey programs, falling against Kent State, 2-0, and Michigan, 5-0.
Against Kent State, Cal had six penalty corner opportunities after having none in its season-opening loss to Northeastern. The Bears, however, did not spend much time fine-tuning their corners in the preseason and were shut down in their corner attempts.
The team also had some problems with man-to-man coverage, but in the first half the defense did whatever it took to keep a goal out. Going into the halftime, the score was still 0-0, but Kent State possessed the ball in its offensive half for the majority of the period. The Bears in general looked very tense — when they had the ball they would often hastily pass it up field, where there was no receiver.
“We started spiraling down, and we don’t really have the tools yet to stop that. I would say I was disappointed after the way we started last week,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “We were forcing things we didn’t have to force, and I think that was just a reaction to pressure.”
The standout players from the Kent State game were sophomore Janaye Sakkas and junior goalkeeper Kori Griswold. As soon as Sakkas would sub into the game, she would automatically boost the team’s energy, often creating a fast break toward the goal. Griswold also played an essential role in keeping the score 2-0 despite many Kent State shot attempts.
“Kent State was a really difficult game for us because we didn’t connect as well as we normally do, but then we had the opportunity to really analyze and set ourselves up and clear the slate for today,” Carter said. “I think we did an amazing job.”
Despite the 5-0 loss in the Michigan game, Cal made significant improvements in energy level and man-to-man coverage from Friday to Sunday.
For most of the match, play was very even. But for a period of about five minutes in the second half, the Bears fell apart. They got very rushed and started to lose their defensive marking, giving up three goals in that short span.
Once time ran out, Michigan lined up for one more penalty corner, scoring its fifth goal of the day.
Ultimately, the score was not completely reflective of the evenness of play, but in the coming week, Cal needs to focus on consistency with possession.
“The errors that led to goals were actually pretty simple,” Onstead said. “I think the fix is easier than it looks when you see 5-0, and I think the challenge now is just keeping our spirits up and looking ahead.”
Lucy Schaefer covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]