Stanford's Dru Notches Two to Down Cal in NorPac Championship
Monday, November 8, 2010
Category: Sports > Fall > Field Hockey
Two wildly divergent paths met at the NorPac championship match on Saturday.
To reach the finals, the Cal field hockey team had to withstand a last-minute scare by Radford and outshoot Davidson in a penalty strokes. In contrast, Stanford coasted by outscoring Appalachian State and Longwood by a combined score of 13-3.
Despite the difference, the end result was the same. The Cardinal hoisted its fourth straight championship crown and earned another NCAA play-in bid after a 2-0 win. On the other hand, the Bears will have to wait until next season for a shot at the Atlantic-10 Conference.
Early offense has been Stanford's postseason trademark, and the tournament final was no exception. A prime scoring opportunity arrived in the 10th minute, when the referees awarded the Cardinal a penalty stroke after Cal keeper Maddie Hand left her spot to stop an incoming player.
"It was a kind of a flukey goal in that it was a stroke," head coach Shellie Onstead said. "It was a good call, but I wasn't that concerned because we had plenty of time."
Becky Dru converted the stroke to give Stanford a one-goal lead, and her offensive output didn't end there. On a penalty corner seven minutes later, the tournament MVP netted Xanthe Travlos' dish from the right side for her second score of the match.
Though Cal could muster a total of only three shots the entire game, it weathered Stanford's 11-shot flurry in the second half, much like it did against North Carolina's 27-shot barrage in October.
"It was, in my opinion, pretty even. The circle penetrations were probably similar, and we just weren't able to put it in," Onstead said. "That's probably been the theme all year so that's what we're looking to address going forward."
One reason for the Bears' struggling offense may also be attributed to a grueling 100-plus minute affair against Davidson on Friday. Four members of Onstead's starting lineup never left the field. Conversely, the Cardinal's prolific offense allowed first-year coach Tara Danielson to rest her starters in time for the championship match.
Despite tired legs, Cal remained within striking distance for the rest of the game. While Hand posted six saves, senior Lisa Lohre and junior Erin Magill each recorded a defensive save.
"Our corner defense was really well organized and doing very well, which you hope for by the end of the season," Onstead said.
However, the Bears' strong defensive showing was not enough to dethrone their Bay Area rival, as Stanford's lead proved insurmountable. Although the NorPac hardware will remain in the Cardinal's trophy case, Cal's next step puts it in familiar territory.
The Bears are no strangers to season-ending losses to Stanford, but one more early exit from the postseason is just an added impetus for Cal to topple the perennial NorPac juggernaut.
Catherine Nguyen covers field hockey. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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