Cal field hockey gears up for tough Pac-12 weekend matchups

Ruby Sapia/Staff

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This weekend will be a busy one on a campus filled with alumni, parents and, of course, field hockey. Homecoming is here and so is the Cal field hockey team, as it returns to Underhill Field to face UC Davis this Friday.

The Bears have arrived back home from their road trip, as they closed out their non-conference games this past weekend. With Pac-12 games approaching, Cal is rolling in on a high note after defeating a ranked team for the first time in nearly two years.

This season has been no walk in the park for the Bears, as they went into what would become a five-game losing streak after winning their first game. It wasn’t until they came out with a 4-3 overtime win against Penn State in the middle of the season that things started to go their way.

Cal came back from a 1-5 record to recover to what is now 6-8, putting them in a position with a lot to prove in their next conference games against UC Davis, 6-5, and No. 18 Stanford, 9-5.

UC Davis rose above .500 after its win against Central Michigan last Tuesday, reaching a 6-5 record matching its previous season’s wins going into the conference games.  After almost a two-week break, the Aggies will be entering the Bears’ territory for the two sides’ first matchup of the regular season.

Last season, Davis had a sad final stretch, losing every game during conference play — including two consecutive sweeps by Cal. The team will be hoping to correct these losses this time around.

Davis has had a rather evenly dispersed team this year with four players all tied at two goals, however, they have only accumulated a total of 12 goals this season. These close wins could prove to be the preparation the team needs for the tense matchups to come.

Conference games have an intensified atmosphere, tending to result in close scores and having an added incentive, with the winner of the American East Conference receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Cal currently sits 0-1 in conference play after a 2-0 loss against No. 18 Stanford earlier in the season.

The Bears have come a long way since then and have prevailed in times of trouble. Although the chances are slim for an NCAA tournament appearance, they still have an opportunity to impress in conference play.

Cal junior forward Megan Rodgers leads the team with nine goals and four assists, followed by redshirt senior forward Katrina Carter with eight goals. These two have shown to be quite the pair this season, together accounting for almost half the team’s goals thus far. Bears’ junior midfielder Maddie Cleat and senior midfielder Lindsay Mathison are a short distance away, tied for third with five goals.

Another Cal player who has been making an impact these past few games is freshman forward Monica Arteaga, scoring three goals in the last four games.This added energy could be the driving power needed to lead the team to triumph.

UC Davis and Cal have both grown since the beginning of the season, as they head into the matchup with 6 wins each. The matchup will take place Friday at 6 p.m. at Underhill Field.

Mara Redican covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected].