Conference-Topping Cal Hopes To Keep Its Hot Hand in Davis

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After toppling then-No. 16 Stanford in an upset win last weekend, the Cal field hockey team now faces a hot UC Davis squad that is fresh off three straight victories on the road. The Bears (4-4, 3-0 in the NorPac) hope to sustain their own winning momentum when they travel to Davis on Saturday for a 1 p.m., tilt.

Saturday's match is the last of a three-game set against conference rivals. With wins over Pacific and the Cardinal last weekend, the Bears are the only undefeated team in NorPac play, with Stanford in second place with a 2-1 record.

In the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season, Cal recorded its first win with a 5-1 victory over the Aggies. Claire Dougherty and Andrea Earle each scored a brace in the rout, while senior Megan Psyllos tallied the gamewinner.

The loss against the Bears on Sept. 5 marks the last time the Aggies have dropped a decision.

Since then, Davis (3-3, 0-2) has outscored its opponents 7-1 to bring its record back up to .500. The Aggies posted two consecutive shutouts over St. Louis and Central Michigan to follow up a thrilling double-overtime victory over Missouri State.

Much of the Aggies' recent success can be attributed, in large part, to two standout sophomores: forward Nadia Namdari and keeper Lauren Sawvelle.

Namdari notched two goals and two assists during Davis' torrid win streak, entrenching her firmly as the Aggies' top offensive performer with nine points.

Additionally, Sawvelle's impressive performances in the cage have earned her recognition among NCAA field hockey statistical leaders. Through games up to Sept. 19, the San Diego, Calif., native is ranked 10th in save percentage (.797) and tied for ninth in saves per game (8.00).

Cal is not without its own noteworthy performances.

Dishing out two assists last weekend to bring her season total up to seven, sophomore Deanna Kennedy is rising rapidly in the team record books. She is now ranked eighth in school history for career assists with 17, and is one away from tying coach and Hall of Fame inductee Shellie Onstead for seventh.

Kennedy has been a key contributor in penalty corner conversions, which are a main staple in the Bears' offensive game, earning most of her assists this season in her role as the setter. Midway through the season, the midfielder is well on pace to break her freshman assist total of 10.

Dougherty has also paced Cal's offense. With game-winning goals against Pacific and Stanford last weekend, the forward has captured the team lead with six scores. She earned her second NorPac Weekly honor as Offensive Player of the Week.

After the match against Davis, the Bears' stretch of road games concludes next week with visits to currently ranked No. 8 Wake Forest and No. 1 North Carolina.


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

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