Knoche Finds Cal's Goal Is a Perfect Fit

Field Hockey Goalie-and Harvard Transfer-Kelly Knoche's Defense Has the NorPac Taking Notice

Photo: Keeper Kelly Knoche was named NorPac defensive player of the week for the second time this year after her performance against Albany.
Nick Fradkin/File
Keeper Kelly Knoche was named NorPac defensive player of the week for the second time this year after her performance against Albany.


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Kelly Knoche, keeper for the No. 19 Cal field hockey team, denied three stroke opportunities in the Bears' 3-2 win over Albany. For her efforts, she was named NorPac defensive player of the week for the second time in three weeks.

The Harvard transfer is now playing alongside her sister, Katie Knoche and receiving national attention, ranking 10th in goals against and 18th in save percentage.

Yesterday, the Daily Californian caught up with Kelly Knoche to discuss her recent success and what the transition was like from the Crimson to the gold and blue. Knoche was humble, and blissfully unaware.

Daily Californian: So what did you think when you were named NorPac defensive player of the week again?

Kelly Knoche: I was? That's great. I think what's funny about defensive player of the week is that I make the big spectacular saves, and so those are what get recognized a lot.

But I have very solid defenders in front of me, like Rachel Moffit, Carolina (Bistue), Sophie (Sproats), and Erin (Magill). Those players make all these great plays but don't always get a lot of credit because it doesn't show up in the stats. But hey, I still think it's awesome to be honored.

DC: Do you think you would be at this point in your career if you weren't at Cal?

KK: No. I think that in my transition from Harvard's team to Cal I learned so much about myself as a player and about expectations. I learned what I needed to do to be the best.

Once I got injured my freshman year, I didn't realize what needed to go into getting back to the top of my game. I had taken being at the top of my game for granted. If I hadn't come here, I wouldn't be at the place I'm at.

DC: You've been at Cal for less than two years, so how did you manage to adapt so quickly?

KK: I grew up in this environment. I'm from San Diego and my sister goes to school here, so I would come visit her a lot. I would say that my personality tends more to be a Cal player than an Ivy League player, but it was just easy to adapt because people helped me along the way. I was constantly enabled to do well and succeed, that made it easy.

DC: Why did you decide to go to Harvard straight out of high school?

KK: Well, my sister and I have been doing everything together since we were young. I came to Cal and loved it, but my sister was here and I think I wanted to step out on my own and do my own thing.

Also, when you have the opportunity to get an education at Harvard you should try it out, and I did. It was a really great experience and I think it changed me for the better, by every means.

DC: Did you get Katie into hockey, or did she get you into hockey?

KK: She got me into hockey. We went to middle school together and she told me the only way I would be able to make the middle school team was if I would play goalie. Looking back that was a complete lie.

But I went up to the coach the first day of middle school and said that I wanted to play goalie. I was pretty miserable that I was so gullible, but then in the ninth grade I ended up making the 16-and-under national team. From then on it was really fun. But it was my sister's plot from the beginning.

DC: Did your sister play a large role in why you came to play at Cal?

KK: Yes. She definitely played a big role. I was planning on taking a gap year at Harvard and getting healthy. I don't know if I want to admit this, but I was planning on working on a fishing boat and just having a very introspective and self-aware year.

But then my sister called me and said, "Our goalie just left and you know you've always wanted to go here. You can come here right now. We need you this fall."

DC: So you gave up the fishing boat idea?

KK: I had all these plans for my year off. Half the time I was thinking about going to Hawaii, but in the fall I wanted to go on a great white shark expedition trip. I just wanted to experience life and pay my own way.

But then Cal needed me and I was thinking of transferring anyway and I had already filled out an application last January. When they needed me that fall, who was I to say that my life experiences on fishing boats is more important than me being able to help your team?

I have many years to do that. College field hockey only comes around four times, right?

DC: Once you made your decision, how was the transition?

KK: It happened a week into preseason, maybe even after the first preseason game, and it just fit. I realized I had such a hard time leaving Harvard because of the degree and because of all my obligations there. But ultimately, my heart is here.

It was just so perfect. It all worked out-like fate.

Tags: CAL FIELD HOCKEY, KELLY KNOCHE


Contact Caroline Ogawa at [email protected]



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