After just barely outdoing Stanford in last week’s matchup, Cal returns to Underhill Field for its final game of the season. Can the Bears reignite the offensive spark after not scoring in regulation last outing?
Against Stanford, Cal came away with the victory after a stroke-off win that took place after four periods of regulation and two overtimes. Sophomore Sydney Decher landed the final blow with a goal scored on the Cardinal goalie Daisy Ford.
To back up her teammates’ efforts, Cato Knipping stood strong as the Stanford strikers missed two attempts, handing Cal the win after 80 minutes of scoreless field hockey. Knipping’s crucial saves and overall impressive performance in this game earned her the Defensive Player of the Week honors in the America East Conference.
This game did not have stellar offense from either side as both teams only attempted five shots each and did not take a single penalty corner shot. The defense, however, shined through with both Cal’s and Stanford’s goalies recording multiple saves that kept the game afloat.
This lack of offense will not cut it in the remaining games, so Cal needs to find the power stroke in its remaining contests, especially in its last home game against James Madison on Friday.
To conclude on a high note at home, the Bears will need to break the historical trend against JMU since Cal does not have a win in four attempts. The last time these two teams competed was back in 2007 where James Madison took a 2-1 victory. JMU’s 11-2 start that season was the second best in team’s history, which it has not been able to repeat this season.
This gives Cal a better chance at a win, although this 8-6 James Madison team still holds a better record than the Bears’ 4-8. It is noteworthy that this game is not a conference matchup, but a Cal win is still needed to keep them in contention for a possible playoff spot.
The Bears will need to strike early in order to have a chance since James Madison has recently come off of a 2-0 win over Wake Forest, who beat Cal 6-1 in September. JMU does a spectacular job of out-shooting and outscoring its opponents, while also limiting the offensive capabilities of the opposing team.
For example, in the recent game, JMU limited the dominant 11-3 Wake Forest team to only one shot on goal and shut it out in four periods of regulation. On the other hand, Cal conceded 16 shots on net against Wake Forest, so the Bears’ defense is going to have to be lights out to give their offense a chance to win the game.
With the season’s end approaching, Cal needs a win against JMU to create some momentum going into the last two games of the season against top conference competitors. On the other side of the field, JMU aims to better its record against a sub .500 Cal team in an effort to improve in the NCAA ranks and its Division I Independent conference.
Based on the Bears’ recent performance against Stanford, they will need to shift completely and find the offense that showed up to the field earlier in the season against Bryant in order to even have a chance at topping James Madison.
Who will prevail by the 60-minute mark?
This will be the last game played at Underhill Field this season, so the Bears are looking to avoid leaving fans with an unpleasant taste in their mouths.
To see Cal play its final home game of the 2022 season, head to Underfill Field at 1 p.m. Sunday.