Cal field hockey faces Stanford, UC Davis for second consecutive weekend

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It’s déjà vu this weekend for the Cal field hockey team. Just a week after facing off with Stanford and UC Davis, Cal is set for a second pair of matchups against the local schools, where it will get another chance to knock off the No. 20 Cardinal.

First up, though, is a home game Friday against UC Davis (6-9). The Aggies enter the contest on a three-game losing streak, the most recent defeat a 3-0 shutout against the Bears on Sunday.

Although the scoring was one-sided, UC Davis’s defense kept the game from getting out of hand: The Bears took a season-high 25 shots, but the Aggie defense blocked many of them, allowing just 10 on goal, with goalkeeper Chelsea Bigelow registering seven saves.

The Aggies were also without leading goal-scorer Eline van den Bosch, a key absence that allowed the Cal defense to hold UC Davis to just one shot on goal.

In round two, the Bears will look to take advantage of a defense that allows almost three goals a game and put together their first winning streak of the season.

Sunday will be redemption day for the Bears, as they get a rematch against the Cardinal team that they lost to in disappointing fashion last week.

The Cardinal (10-4) are led by sophomore attacker Corinne Zanolli, who ranks third in the country with 1.36 goals per game. Zanolli was the difference last week against the Bears, scoring twice on Stanford’s first two penalty corners of the 3-2 game.

The star on defense is Kelsey Bing, Stanford’s junior goalkeeper who made multiple great saves last week to keep Cal scoreless in the first half. The Bears have scored at least two goals in their past four games, and they’ll need to continue to generate plenty of opportunities in order to get past Bing and the stingy Cardinal defense.

While Stanford has a clear starter in the net, the goalkeeper situation for the Bears has become a goalie-by-committee system. Both junior Danielle Mentink and sophomore Natalie Dalton have started four of Cal’s last eight games, and head coach Shellie Onstead has often made midgame substitutions.

“Whoever starts, it’s just a feel thing for me at halftime,” Onstead said. “I don’t go in with an intention one way or another. They’re going to earn the start over the course of the week because they’re very close.”

“It’s hard to be ready off the bench as a goalie, so I have to give them credit for that,” Onstead said. “They’re handling it pretty well.”

Without a fixture at goalie, the Bears have relied more on their midfield and backfield to keep opponents at bay.

“Janaye (Sakkas) is playing really well in the midfield, doing a lot of work to help make things go,” Onstead said. “The youngster Brynn (Zorilla) is also putting in a lot of mileage for a freshman. We’re leaning on her, and she’s doing a good job.”

While the opponents are the same, Sakkas, Zorilla and the Bears will look for a different result against No. 20 Stanford this weekend in order to finally defeat a ranked team.

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