Cal field hockey looks to bounce back and heat up against two winless teams after consecutive 1-3 losses to inaugurate the season. Will the Bears’ first games at home ignite their offense and lead to their first victories?
Cal’s Friday matchup takes place at its home stadium, Underhill Field, against Bellarmine at 6 p.m. The Knights also enter this contest 0-2, only managing to score one goal in their opening game, while getting shut out in game two. Cal and Bellarmine have yet to face each other in field hockey, making this home opener all the more exciting due to all the unknown variables this matchup presents.
The Bears’ offense has been relatively quiet to start the year. Cal’s two scorers so far are backfield Luzi Persiehl and forward Sara Stone, who each look to continue their scoring ways in hopes that Cal’s offense will catch fire. In addition, keep an eye out for Cal’s Olivia Sharratt, who has taken a few high-caliber shots on this past road trip, as she looks to score her first collegiate field hockey goal.
The Bears’ defense will need to keep the Knights’ Amber Hofenk Jerembo off the scoreboard as she poses an early threat to opponents. Her ability to consistently shoot on goal and put pressure on the opposing team has made her the lone goal-scorer for Bellarmine this season.
Will Cal’s goalie, Cato Knipping, be up to the task against Hofenk Jerembo and Bellarmine’s slow-starting offense?
The subsequent Sunday game will showcase Cal against an Indiana team which has yet to score a goal this season. Before arriving at Underhill Field, the Hoosiers make a stop across the Bay against Stanford in hopes of scoring their first goal, and more importantly, recording their first win.
In the first two games of their respective seasons, Cal players hit 29 shots with 12 on goal, while Indiana cracked 16 shots total with 11 of them on goal. Although the Bears hurled more shots in these games, the Hoosiers recorded a much higher percentage of shots on net, meaning that their quality of hits made the opposing goalies work hard to defend the shots.
Indiana and Cal are familiar opponents, having matched up before in 10 contests, splitting these meetings with each team winning five games apiece. 2015 saw their last meeting in Davis, California, where the Bears walked away with a 2-1 win. Historically, Cal has had the upper hand at home against Indiana with a 3-1 record, outscoring them 8-5 in those four matchups.
Since it is early in the season, knowing the favorite to win Friday night and Sunday morning proves to be more difficult. If the Hoosiers want to end up on top against the Bears, they will need to reignite their accurate shooting, especially after not recording a single shot on goal last Sunday against No. 6 Liberty. For Bellarmine to beat Cal, the players would need to jumpstart their effective passing game and ability to shoot from all parts of the field like they did in the last four games of 2021.
For Cal to win these two games, it would need to shoot at the crease and on goal at a higher percentage than it has up to this point, while also executing more in penalty corner situations. Early wins, especially after two straight losses to begin 2022, are crucial to building momentum to spark a winning streak.
How the Bears perform against Bellarmine will set the stage for the weekend game against Indiana and carry onto next week’s upcoming matches against North Carolina and Wake Forest.
Can Cal’s sticks get hot enough to kindle the excitement of the home crowd under the lights?