After losing three consecutive games at home, perhaps a trip across the country is what the Cal field hockey team needs in order to change its luck. The Bears will fly to Maryland this weekend to compete in the Terrapin Invitational — one of the more competitive tournaments in the country.
First on Saturday, Cal will face off against the No. 7 Terrapins themselves. The following day, it will match up against the winner of the American versus Fairfield game.
Four games into the season, Maryland has recorded two losses against top four ranked teams and one win against No. 8 Boston College. American, on the other hand, has played an easier opening schedule, winning three of its four games. Fairfield got off to a rockier start, losing two matches and winning one.
Once the Bears make it past their first game this weekend, the competition should be more comparable between either American or Fairfield.
“We have a pretty tough opening schedule,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “In past years it hasn’t necessarily been so tough.”
The Bears now have some experience playing ranked teams, so they will need to step up their energy, especially against Maryland, and try to make the most out of set plays like penalty corners and free strokes. Cal has been goalless for two games now, recording very few shots as well. In order to stand any chance, it will have to be less tentative in the shooting semicircle.
Onstead has been emphasizing the importance of keeping the game simple — stopping the ball and finding the next open girl to send it to. This simplistic approach focuses on possession of the ball rather than attempting complicated plays. Stringing together more passes will definitely be beneficial to the Bears because if they control more of the game, they can also block their opponent’s scoring opportunities.
Despite the troubles that Cal has had thus far, it has kept spirits high and is ready to take on the challenge of the Terrapins. Since it is used to always being on the road, perhaps the travel will actually help the team remember the great start to the season they had last year.
“My thought is that we have started off pretty strong the last couple of years and had some trouble at the end of the season, and this year we are going to do this,” Onstead said, as she made an upward wave motion.
Lucy Schaefer covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]