Cal field hockey surrenders big lead against No. 8 Boston College, falls twice over weekend

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Always a bridesmaid, never a bride — this has been the story of the season for the Cal field hockey team, as many games seem to be just out of reach for the Bears.

This weekend in New York was no different as Cal fell to No. 8 Boston College, 4-3, in an overtime heartbreaker, followed by a loss to No. 13 Syracuse, 4-2.

Saturday’s matchup against the Eagles (8-4) started off as most Cal games do: the first half was a defensive battle, as strong backfield play from both sides resulted in just four total shot attempts in the first 20 minutes of action.

In the 28th minute, though, Cal broke through. Freshman backfielder Brynn Zorilla checked back into the game and immediately found senior forward Melina Moore, who put the ball in the back of the net to give the Bears the early lead.

The goal raised Moore’s career total to 26, putting her tied with head coach Shellie Onstead for 10th all-time scorer in program history.

Coming out of the locker room with a rare halftime lead, Cal got into a rhythm. Sophomore forward Megan Rodgers scored twice within five minutes, giving the Bears a commanding 3-0 advantage. Rodgers’ two goals also put her at 26 on her career to tie Moore and Onstead in Cal’s record books.

Down 3-0 at the 42-minute mark, the Eagles took a timeout, snapped back into it and began an offensive onslaught. In the span of eight minutes, the Eagles scored three goals to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Onstead took a timeout and made a substitution at goalie after the second goal, but it didn’t matter, as Boston College came roaring back with a vengeance, picking up two green cards during their impassioned resurgence.

In overtime, Rodgers recorded a big shot on goal, but it was saved, and the Eagles broke through after five minutes to complete the unexpected comeback. And while the Bears have experienced tough losses, this one will be particularly hard to swallow.

Cal led 3-0 with 25 minutes left against the No. 8 team in the country but couldn’t hold up defensively to close it out, denying the Bears the marquee win that has evaded them all season long.

On Sunday against Syracuse, the script was flipped, as Cal came back from a 2-0 deficit early in the second half to tie the game with 20 minutes left. Moore and Rodgers each scored again, but the Orange regained the advantage and scored two more times to seal the victory.

The road trip wraps up Cal’s nonconference schedule — a grueling series of games throughout the country against some of the top teams. The Bears faced off with seven teams currently ranked in the top 13 and went 0-7 in these contests.

Outside of blowout losses early in the season to No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Maryland, the narrative has been similar. Cal has had opportunities to win but could not finish down the stretch.

The Bears have six conference games left on the schedule, with two against No. 21 Stanford, during which Cal will have the chance to finally beat a ranked team and no longer be just the jealous bridesmaid.

Tim Sun covers field hockey. Contact him at [email protected].