Field Hockey Prepares for Postseason

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The Cal field hockey team used Stanford as a temporary home in the beginning of the season, playing at Varsity Field Hockey Turf while its own field was being renovated.

Now the Bears will be looking to use the Cardinal as a doormat in the season's end.

A victory tomorrow would give Cal (10-6, 5-0 in NorPac) the outright conference lead. It will also put the team in prime position to take the upcoming tournament.

Fans can expect a playoff atmosphere with the postseason just a week away and the two favorites facing each other.

This could very likely be a preview of the deciding game of the conference tournament, which will be held at the same site.

"This (game) is kind of a dress rehearsal," Cal coach Shellie Onstead said. "We're going to treat this game as a possible league title match."

The Bears will be looking to replicate the result of its last meeting against the Cardinal (8-9, 4-1 NorPac), but definitely not the method. Cal was unhappy with its sloppiness and lack of execution in a 2-1 victory Oct. 12.

Tomorrow, the Bears will be working on getting their set plays to run smoother.

Starting a different backfield than the last time they played, Cal will have to work on getting comfortable with the new positions.

The team will be missing Michelle Wald, who will not suit up tomorrow because of a chronic back injury, hoping that she will be available for the tournament.

Furthermore, Anita Reyes went down with a stress fracture.

"It's really been a hit and miss situation with (Wald). We plan to use her sporadically," Onstead said. "But I think this (trend of injuries) has actually made us a better team."

With the injuries forcing Cal to develop more players it can rely on for starter minutes, it has become deeper and less dependent as a team on a healthy starting lineup.

Going undefeated in conference play would be a testament to this paradox.

Cal has already clinched the NorPac West division by virtue of a tiebreaker. Still, the Bears are looking to finish things right before next week's tournament.

It also doesn't hurt motivation that their opponent is Stanford.

In what Onstead considers the best rivalry in sports, Cal versus Stanford, she pointed out its storied history because she should know. It is one which Onstead herself was involved in during her days as a player at Cal.

And not much has changed.

"The players today seem to know each other more. There is no hostility, but when I was playing there was genuine animosity between us," Onstead said. "But, these players still want to win just as much. It's always a big game no matter where we stand in the rankings."

The current Bears team will attempt to tighten the hold of dominance against the Cardinal, having won eight of the last 10 matches.


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