Bears to Play Weak Tigers, Ranked Card Back-to-Back

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Returning home after a 1-2 road trip to play the first back-to-back games of the season is not an easy task, but the Cal field hockey team is up for the challenge.

"Scheduling the back-to-back emulates what the conference tournament is like," coach Shellie Onstead said. "The players will have to turn around and execute."

Onstead's squad returns to Maxwell Field to host Pacific (0-6) Friday at 10 a.m. Friday's match is the first in a crucial three-game stretch against conference rivals. Following the game against Pacific, the Bears will then take a quick trip to Palo Alto, Calif., to face No. 16 Stanford (5-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Although Cal defeated Pacific in their exhibition opener, Onstead warned against overlooking Pacific in anticipation of the feature match against the Cardinal - even though the Tigers are mired in a season-long losing streak.

"I think we have to be careful about looking ahead to Saturday, since that's always a big match. Pacific is always dangerous, so we're trying to focus on one at a time," Onstead said.

The Tigers had their highest-scoring effort of the year in a 7-2 loss to Maine. Melissa Maultsby leads the team in scoring with two goals, while Kelly Perkins has eight shots on goal.

Saturday pits two offensive-minded teams against each other in what should be a fast, high-scoring match.

Excluding the 2-0 shutout loss to then No. 11 Louisville last Sunday, Cal has scored at least two goals in every match and is currently tied for 20th in the nation with 2.83 goals per game and 8.17 points per game.

Sophomore Claire Dougherty and senior Megan Psyllos lead the team with four goals scored apiece. Dougherty also leads the team with nine points. With two assists during the Bears' road trip, West Vancouver native Shannon Elmitt won her third NorPac Player of the Week honor.

Stanford swept its three-game series over the weekend to climb up three spots in the national coaches' poll. The Cardinal has been ranked in the top 20 for 12 consecutive weeks dating back to Sept. 2009.

The Cardinal is paced offensively by NorPac Player of the Week Stephanie Byrne, who is tied for the team lead with three goals and seven points. Byrne helped the Cardinal to victories over Kent State and Iowa with two goals, including an overtime game-winner against Iowa.

Additionally, Alessandra Moss took home more conference honors for Stanford, earning Defensive NorPac Player of the Week. Moss currently posts a stingy 1.18 GAA and has recorded 14 saves on the season.

As for Cal, Onstead believes that her squad has improved coming out of their road trip and is ready to face two considerably different opponents in the span of only two days.

"I think we grew a lot in those three games," Onstead said, "and I think we've got a better understanding of our system and of the speed of play we'll need to do well."


Catherine Nguyen covers field hockey. Contact her at [email protected]

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