Road Woes Continue in Loss to Northwestern

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Even if it wins out the rest of the season, the Cal field hockey team can only claim a .500 record.

That's what happens when, 11 games into the season, a team hasn't notched its first road win.

Tuesday's 3-0 loss to No. 18 Northwestern made it official. The Bears capped their second East Coast tour with their third straight loss -- their seventh consecutive setback on the road.

Until redshirt freshman Megan Shimojima's goal two games into the road trip, only three Bears players had notched a goal through the first 10 games. At the same time last season, nine players had recorded at least one goal.

The problem for Cal is that all but two of them graduated last season. That's been the concern since losing eight starters at the end of last year.

Wildcats keeper Katie Lynch needed only two saves to preserve the shutout, meaning Cal (3-8, 1-1 in the NorPac) only posted two shots on goal in 70 minutes of play. And on Tuesday, Grant Field in Evanston, Ill., was the site of the Bears' fourth shutout loss of the season.

The seven road losses bookending Cal's win over Stanford make that victory seem like an aberration.

The Bears knocked off a top-20 team in the Cardinal, and it looked like their first East Coast exposure had done its job. The lessons from the road returned a polished squad capable of toppling a ranked opponent and maybe even becoming that top-20 team.

It seemed like an 8-0 trouncing by Maryland had jump-started the season.

Now three games and three losses later there, it led to just another winless road trip.

Coach Shellie Onstead has always said she trains her team to peak at the end of the season -- not in the middle. According to those parameters, the Bears still have four more weeks of refinement. The NorPac tournament is only five regular-season games away.

Perhaps the win over Stanford wasn't a blip on the record, as Cal often performs best when the stakes are raised. After all, the regular season only determines seeding in the conference tournament.

But even for the NorPac tournament, the Bears will have to learn to play on the road.


Contact Caroline Ogawa at [email protected]

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