No one wants to share a home with their rival. But for the past three years, the Cal field hockey team has had to do just that — share a field with Stanford and act like Klein Field was one of its traveling home fields rather than rival territory. On Friday, the Bears will finally get to face off against No. 18 Stanford (5-4) at their home field at Underhill.
Hot off of its 5-1 victory against UC Davis, Cal is looking to fend off the Cardinal with the same vigor that cemented its first home field win Sunday.
“My biggest concern with them about Friday night is being too over-amped. They are so excited,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “Everybody is making a really concerted effort to get everyone to the night game. It is going to be a tremendous atmosphere and I think that they have to learn how to play in front of that which is good.”
The Bears managed to involve eight different players in goal-scoring plays against the Aggies, which is a testament to the team’s added emphasis on midfield possession and offensive pressure. This work has been evident in recent games against Appalachian State, Wake Forest and UC Davis, as the ball has spent a significantly longer time near opponent goals.
Stanford, however, is a different type of opponent than any the Bears have faced this season. Playing the Cardinal carries a level of emotional investment that would only come to a school where student wear shirts that say “Beat Stanford” year round.
Along with presenting a mental stress for Cal, Stanford is also the best team in the America East conference West Division. The Cardinal has logged important wins against Kent State, to whom Cal lost, and Cornell.
A win for the Bears, however, is not out of the question. While Cal easily triumphed against the Aggies, UC Davis took Stanford to double-overtime before falling to the Cardinal, 1-0.
“Stanford has a lot of pace,” Onstead said. “They are well-experienced so they won’t make mistakes under pressure as easily as some teams. We just have to trust that we are going to be able to stay in the game no matter what happens.”
Senior Nicole Henriksson, who scored the first goal against UC Davis, is looking forward to the battle with the Bears’ Bay Area rival.
“Stanford is always a hard game,” Henriksson said. “It is just a battle. It usually goes to overtime. We are going to have to use our fitness. Mentally will be the hardest battle, but I have no doubts that we can get the win.”