Late Heroics By Brightwell Darken Cal's 2010 Opener

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The last time the Cal women's field hockey team squared off against Miami of Ohio, the Bears fell in a nailbiter. Playing at home in Oxford, Ohio, the Redhawks used a May Hull goal to pull out a 2-1 extra period victory.

Overtime was looming once again during last Friday's rematch at Maxwell Field in Berkeley. Late in the second half, the two squads were deadlocked at three goals apiece. Then with six minutes left in the game, Miami's Christine Brightwell found the net off of a penalty corner to break the tie.

The senior midfielder's penalty corner goal was the difference maker in a 4-3 Redhawks win.

"I knew it was going to be a good game, I didn't know what the result was going to be at the end of it," Miami coach Jill Reeve said. "You know, you come in to Cal's home territory on opening day, so I was a little bit nervous to see if our kids would have nerves or if they'd be able to perform."

The Redhawks (1-0) didn't look nervous to start. Miami took the early offensive, clanging two shots off the goal posts before finding the net six minutes into the game. Meanwhile, Cal need a full 10 minutes just to move the ball inside Miami's circle.

Yet, even though they managed just four shots on goal in the first 35 minutes, Bears capitalized on their limited opportunies. Junior Erin Magill hit home a penalty stroke with 21 minutes left in the first half. Five minutes later, senior Megan Psyllos rolled in a goal between a defender's legs to give Cal a 2-1 halftime lead.

The Bears' run continued out of the break when freshman Shannon Elmitt scored just two minutes into the half, but Miami responded quickly. Junior Jackie Nguyen led the Redhawk rally with two unassisted goals within 10 minutes of Elmitt's.

"They seemed to be able to step up their attacking part of the game and we had a hard time adjusting to that," Cal coach Shellie Onstead said.

After not allowing a single goal in their two preseason matches against Pacific and St. Joseph's, the Bears faltered down the stretch against Miami.

In addition to allowing three second-half scores, Cal was unable to respond after Brightwell's go-ahead goal. The Bears earned a pair of penalty corners in the final minute of the game, but came away empty on both opportunities.

Even after Cal let the win slip away, Onstead found things to build on from the match .

"We had quite a few freshmen play today and I learned that they're good, it was nice to see that in a game situation," she said.

"I wanted them to focus on things like being resilient and tenacious and understand that there is ebb and flow in a match like this and not to let one thing affect us too much," Onstead continued. "I think we did a pretty good job of that."


Contact Byron Atashian at [email protected]

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