Cal Banks on Experience To Take Aim At Redhawks

Photo: Jessica Kreck started all 19 games for the Bears last year as a sophomore, scoring five goals to rank third on the team. She is one of only five upperclassmen on the roster.
Nick Fradkin/File
Jessica Kreck started all 19 games for the Bears last year as a sophomore, scoring five goals to rank third on the team. She is one of only five upperclassmen on the roster.


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So what exactly is the feeling when the first whistle blows?

"I live for that moment, even after all of this time," Cal head coach Shelly Onstead said. "I just hope my players feel that way too."

After two exhibition victories over Pacific and St. Joseph's, the Cal field hockey team plays first official game of the season today, a 5 p.m. tilt at Maxwell Field against Miami of Ohio.

It will be a different feel when the Bears take the field this year as opposed to last, when they entered with 12 freshmen. Onstead said that she will still start a couple of newcomers on this year's squad, but that last year's growing pains are over for the most part.

With one year of experience, the head coach thinks that her team will be more disciplined and mature.

"We were quite young last year," Onstead said. "The overall quality has gone up quite a bit and the year of experience that the freshmen got is really showing. We're looking at a significantly stronger squad this year."

Though it is the season opener against a non-conference opponent, the match should have a little extra edge after last season's tilt in Oxford, Ohio. The Redhawks scraped by Cal, 2-1, in extra periods to give the Bears an eighth consecutive road loss and keep them winless away from Maxwell.

This time, the Miami arrives in Berkeley to start the year instead of late in the season and Cal isn't marred in a disastrous losing streak.

"I'm quite familiar with (Redhawks coach Jill Reeve); we have very similar in our approach to the game," Onstead said. "I think it's going to become an every-other-year or every-three-year rivalry. We definitely will take some things from last year and we're going to show a little different formation."

Picked to finish second in the MAC, Miami returns nine letterwinners from last year's squad, one that finished 13-10. Among those returners is senior Mary Hull, who scored the game-winning goal in last year's match.

Friday's match commences a three-game Northern California roadtrip for the Redhawks; they will visit Pacific and UC Davis after their stop in Berkeley.

In this roadtrip alone, Miami will face 75 percent of the West Coast collegiate field hockey programs over the course of three days. The Redhawks only avoid No. 20 Stanford, who enjoyed its best season in its program's history last year.

As for Cal, the team knows it will be a different feeling now that the games are counting, and today will be step one in improving what was a pretty rough campaign last season. The extra year of experience for what was such a young squad is nice, but Onstead is only worried about getting started before looking too far in the future.

"Your first match is obviously going to be different than your last match of the season, but you want to have your pillars in place," Onstead said. "We're really going to be working on some basic, structural things to start and then we will go for there."

Tags: SHELLIE ONSTEAD, CAL FIELD HOCKEY


Contact Gabriel Baumgaertner at [email protected]



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