Bears to See Red Again in Second Cardinal Matchup

Photo: Senior forward Katie Knoche is one of seven Cal players to have started every game for the Bears this season. Over the course of her 15 matches, Knoche has scored seven goals–good for fourth on the team– and knocked in an assist.
Nick Fradkin/File
Senior forward Katie Knoche is one of seven Cal players to have started every game for the Bears this season. Over the course of her 15 matches, Knoche has scored seven goals–good for fourth on the team– and knocked in an assist.

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Every member of the No. 16 Cal field hockey team admits that beating any team three times in a row is never a given-especially when it's Stanford.

"We know each other's tactics so well," senior Rachel Moffitt said. "We even grew up with some of their players, so it makes it hard to catch them off guard."

Cal may not necessarily face the Cardinal in three consecutive matches, depending on the NorPac tournament seeding, but in case they do, the Bears have history on their side.

Before their 3-1 loss in last season's NorPac tournament championship, the Bears had an 18-game winning streak over the Cardinal. One more win may not seem like a difficult feat-especially considering Stanford's current 3-2 NorPac record.

But Bears coach Shellie Onstead isn't convinced.

"This is a talented team and their record is just a little bad luck and one-goal losses," Onstead said. "Stanford is in a frustrated place, and I think that's a dangerous team to play. They're willing to lay it on the line and dive for balls."

According to senior Andrea Lo, there's just something different about Stanford, which means underestimating the Cardinal is a loss waiting to happen.

"Whenever we play Stanford it's always going to be a tough game because they just want to beat us," Lo said. "It's that simple."

Aside from the motivation of beating a rival, the Bears must also account for the learning curve. Both teams picked up on one another's tactics in last week's match, prompting further adjustment.

"The first game benefited both of us because now we have film to watch on each other," Lo said. "We can focus on what we need to change and work out the kinks."

The Bears aren't sure how the Cardinal will change their attack but one thing is certain: Cal is fighting for a perfect 6-0 conference record in their second game against Stanford.

Although a perfect record can give the Bears a mental edge heading into the NorPac tournament, Saturday's game at Varsity Turf Field will only affect their record, not conference standing.

Cal has already secured the top seed in the upcoming NorPac tournament.

The winner of the three-day conference tournament will face the Ivy League champion in a NCAA play-in game, and the Bears have put themselves in position to earn an NCAA berth.

A victory in their last conference match won't mean more than another check in Cal's win column, but the Bears aren't concerned about the stats.

"The more times we play them the harder it will be, so we have to step our game up," senior Katie Knoche said "If we're supposedly a top team that we're supposed to be, we need to execute those three times in a row. There's no question."


Contact Caroline Ogawa at [email protected]

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