Cal travels to enemy territory for No.16 Stanford

Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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College rivalries are the best kind of rivalries, especially when talking about two schools with less than 50 miles separating them. Cal and Stanford have one of the most notorious rivalries in college sports, and the two sides will surely make it known on the field as the Cardinal host the Bears this Friday in field hockey.

Cal is off to a rocky 1-4 start this season, but every single one of those four losses has come against a ranked opponent. Unfortunately for the Bears, Stanford will be yet another ranked team that stands in their path, as the Cardinal are currently ranked at No. 16.

The Bears will be hoping to break a four-game losing streak with a victory against the Cardinal, and also to take their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2017, when they defeated No. 14 Stanford late in the season. If history repeats itself this Friday, Cal will take down a ranked Stanford once again. The key for the Bears will likely be to get more opportunities on the offensive end.

After a slow start to the season, Cal junior Megan Rodgers has scored in two straight games for the Bears. She has led Cal in goals during each of the last two seasons, with 13 goals in 2018 and 17 goals in 2017. Rodgers’ being back on track could potentially spark the Bears’ offense into a high-scoring game against the Cardinal, which is essential for Cal to have a shot at a victory.

Stanford is 5-3 this season and will be returning from a four-game road trip in which they dropped a game to New Hampshire last weekend. The Cardinal started slow, losing each of their first two matches, but they went on a four-game winning-streak afterward and have since recovered to find themselves with a comfortable winning record as they host Cal.

The two sides have historically had a very close rivalry when it comes to field hockey, as Cal is 53-56-5 all-time against Stanford. A victory would bring the Bears one game closer to .500 against their biggest rival —  another thing the team will surely have in mind with the Friday game just around the corner.

Cal is currently being out-shot 84-50 through only five games this season, a number that head coach Shellie Onstead will be hoping to close in on this weekend.

Last weekend against No. 7 Iowa, Cal goalkeeper Natalie Dalton recorded a career-best 14 saves but only played for half of the game against No. 2 Duke the next day before seeing herself on the sideline for the first time this season. She will likely be playing a full game again against Stanford, especially after being given some rest due to Duke’s 4-0 halftime lead.

The Bears have a lot to prove this Friday against Stanford, as they hope to snap a losing streak, beat their first ranked opponent in two years and, of course, show the Cardinal who rules the Bay Area.

Jack Whaley is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @_jackdouglas_.