Cal field hockey falls to Stanford in semifinals of America East conference tournament

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Seldom does a team face a rival three times in one season.

The Cal field hockey team was given this rare opportunity and had three chances to prove itself against its Bay Area rival. Unfortunately for the Bears, they fell in all three of those games this season.

Although Cal (5-13) was able to keep up its two-game winning streak against Maine (13-7) in the America East conference tournament last weekend, it also maintained its three-game losing streak against Stanford (14-5).

On Friday, Cal triumphed over Maine, 3-2, fighting back from a 2-1 deficit in the second half. The win was especially meaningful for the Bears because they fell to Maine 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals of last year’s America East tournament.

The Black Bears were the first to score, logging a goal in the 32nd minute. Cal got onto the scoreboard soon after, with senior Nicole Henriksson scoring off a centered pass by junior Katrina Carter.

Shortly after Henriksson tied the game at 1-1, Cal fell once again after Maine scored a goal nearly five minutes later. It was not until almost 20 minutes of both tough defensive and offensive work later that the Bears were able to pull ahead, with goals by sophomore Keats Iwanaga and Carter. These scores came as Cal was playing up two players — with a Maine green card and Cal kicking back — in the final 10 minutes. As the game came to a close, the Bears were able to hold onto their lead to seal the 3-2 win.

“(The win) was pretty awesome. As it turns out, probably the peak of the season,” said Cal head coach Shellie Onstead. “I thought it actually gave us enough momentum to get it done the next day.”

The success sent Cal to the semifinals of the conference tournament, where it would play and ultimately lose to Stanford, 2-0.

The game actually stayed tied at 0-0 well into the second half until the Cardinal finally broke the stalemate with a goal by Lucy Dikeou, who pushed through Cal’s diving goalie. Dikeou struck again seven minutes later, bringing the score to 2-0.

At this point, the Bears would have had to score two goals in the final 10 minutes to bring the game to overtime. Again, Onstead pulled the goalie, freshman Danielle Mentink, in order to have an extra field player. But it did not have the desired effect. And while overtime in a Cal-Stanford game is not uncommon, the Bears were unable to overcome the deficit this time around.

“Last game against (the Cardinal), we had done some things well in terms of managing their speed and wanted to build on that. We were focusing on generating more chances,” Onstead said. “I was not terribly surprised by the first round result, but playing Stanford in the second round is always going to be tough. I thought we would get a better reaction when we pulled the goalie.”

Stanford continued on to win the tournament, giving it a spot in the NCAA Tournament starting this week, while Cal’s loss ended its 2016 season with a 5-13 record.

Lucy Schaefer covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]