NorPac Tournament Begins Tomorrow, Cal Looking to Repeat as Champs

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The Cal field hockey team enters the NorPac Conference tournament opener as the top seed for the fourth consecutive year.

The Bears (11-6, 6-0 NorPac) are also the only team in the eight team tournament that has a winning overall record.

So are they taking tomorrow's 11 a.m. tournament-opening tilt at Stanford's Artificial Turf Field against Appalachian State lightly?

No way, says coach Shellie Onstead.

"I'm not taking them lightly at all," Onstead said of the Mountaineers (5-13, 1-5 4th place in the NorPac East). "The whole race (in the NorPac East) was very close."

Junior midfielder Nora Feddersen agrees.

"It doesn't matter who we play," Feddersen said. "We know we have to win every game. If we don't win, we don't go further."

The Mountaineers are led by senior Emily Walls, who has scored four goals and 15 points on the season. Nonetheless, the Bears should fully expect to get to the later rounds.

Cal and Stanford have dominated the conference in recent years, meeting in the title game each of the last three seasons, with the Bears winning two of those. This year, Cal is 2-0 against the Cardinal.

"It's exciting," Onstead said. "It feels like we've come to expect to be one of the top teams in the conference every year."

Onstead relies heavily on the trio of Feddersen (10 goals, 26 points) and seniors Pooja Mehta (six goals, 15 points) and Michelle Wald (four goals, 10 points).

Feddersen is on a tear heading into the tournament. The native of Berlin, Germany has tallied points in ten of the Bears' last twelve games and leads the team in scoring.

Onstead had plenty of praise for her star midfielder.

"It's one thing to be expected to play well," Onstead said. "But she plays up to it. I've never seen her have an awful game."

Despite her outstanding regular season, Feddersen understands that now is the time to step up her play.

"The most important part comes now," Feddersen said. "I think that if everyone brings to the field what they do best, we can go very far."

The Bears won last year's NorPac tournament, but only got as far as the second round of the NCAA tournament, where they fell to Syracuse in a 2-1 overtime battle.

The rest of tomorrow's tournament games are Southwest Missouri State (7-10, 3-2) vs. Pacific (3-12, 2-4), Radford (7-10, 4-1) vs. St. Louis (2-16, 0-6), and Stanford (8-10, 4-2) vs. Davidson (7-12, 3-3).

If the Bears advance past the NorPac tournament, they will face the added obstacle of having to play in a play-in against the Patriot League champion in order to get one of the 16 spots in the NCAA Tournament.


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