Stop the clock. With 55 seconds left, head coach Shellie Onstead emptied Cal’s net in order to momentarily pause the game. Time was slipping away: time to make a comeback, time to turn the season around — and for seniors Janaye Sakkas and Melina Moore, time at Underhill Field.
But try as they might to stop time, the clock eventually kept ticking, and Cal field hockey wound up on the wrong end of a 2-1 loss to Pacific on Sunday.
It’s been the story of Cal field hockey’s season — slow starts leaving the Bears frantically scrambling for a miracle goal late in the game, and more often than not, they have been unable to complete the comeback.
“Our first five or six minutes have been a little bit of a problem all year as far as when we let goals in,” Onstead said. “I think that’s just going to have to be what we focus on, and we’ve tried to address it. I think we’re pretty ready to go, but there’s just kind of a soft moment, and other teams have been able to take advantage of it.”
On Sunday, Pacific did take advantage early. In the sixth minute, Brynn Zorilla mishandled the ball in the backfield, and Pacific forward Kriekie van Wyk — who was pressuring hard — scooped it up for an easy goal.
“I think Pacific really brought a lot of pressure, and we weren’t able to counter,” Moore said. “We were thinking more passive than aggressive in a lot of our plays.”
The Bears’ lack of aggression cost them. The energy level was high, but most of Cal’s passing was around the perimeter in the first half, with few circle penetrations. At the end of the first half, the Bears had taken just two shots and trailed 2-1.
“We have all the talent; we have all the right people; we have all the right plays,” Sakkas said. “I think it’s just putting it in the net after that.”
The entire second half was shrouded in a feeling of wistfulness. As time ran down and Cal missed out on more opportunities, it became apparent that the game might be out of reach. And though Onstead tried to keep the game alive at least for an overtime period, there was a sense of somber finality when the final horn sounded.
“It was very emotional,” Moore said. “Just letting it all sink in and realizing that this is my last game at home is kind of sad.”
For seniors Moore and Sakkas, Sunday marked the end of a wild journey at Cal. The two have both appeared in each of Cal’s 70 games over the past four seasons, combining for 45 goals.
“It was an emotional bit for everybody because they’ve been remarkable,” Onstead said. “They had to experience the downside of not having a field as freshmen — they were on that bus to Stanford — and really ended up being tremendous leaders. They’re terrific young women, and we’re going to miss them a lot.”
But before the two seniors finally say goodbye, they have one last chance to make a run in the conference tournament starting this Friday.
“We just have to look ahead,” Onstead said. “The nice thing about a conference tournament is that it’s a new season, and that’s how we’re looking at it.”
Tim Sun covers field hockey. Contact him at