Cal Perfect in NorPac After Escaping Davis in Overtime

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The last time the Cal field hockey team took the field at UC Davis, the Bears avoided the ignominy of a winless road record with a 5-3 victory over the Aggies.

Boosted by an away upset of then-No. 16 Stanford last weekend, Cal traveled to Davis in considerably better shape on Saturday.

A year of experience, coupled with first-hand knowledge of the Aggies' slow turf, didn't hurt either.

"A lot of the finesse that we build our game on was thrown out the window, so today had as much to do with overcoming things mentally and staying tough when things weren't working," Bears head coach Shellie Onstead said.

"We talked about expecting more of a long ball game."

Sophomores Megan Shimojima and Rachelle Comeau wasted no time in Davis' home opener. The two forwards teamed up on a two-on-one breakaway through the left side to give the Bears the lead in the first five minutes.

Shimojima got her first taste of the unique playing conditions at Davis last year, where she collected two goals in Cal's first road victory. Saturday's goal was her first in this season's campaign.

However, the Aggies equalized on freshman forward Cloey LemMon's shot seven minutes before halftime.

LemMon's score foretold the rest of a tightly-contested game, in which the Bears and the Aggies would match each other goal-for-goal.

With 38 seconds left in the game and Cal trailing 3-2, sophomore Claire Dougherty salvaged a broken short corner to snatch victory away from the Aggies and force overtime.

In the Bears' first overtime this season, Comeau's golden goal tipped the scales in Cal's favor, giving the squad a thrilling 4-3 victory over Davis (3-4, 0-3 in the NorPac).

"Our mindset was to score early so that we could be done because we were all pretty tired and had to work hard throughout the game," Comeau described.

Cal (5-4, 4-0) moved above .500 for the first time this season and remains as the only undefeated team in conference play.

If anything, Saturday's match did not just showcase the Bears' ability to adapt, but also their determination. Onstead voiced pride in her squad's resiliency.

"[This game] tells me we have an awful lot of heart and that's not something you can necessarily coach into a team or drill for," said Onstead. "I'm particularly excited about that component."

Cal's season-high three-game win streak reflects the steady improvement in Onstead's squad. The Bear's hard work will be put to the test next week against current No. 8 Wake Forest, but Comeau is not intimidated.

"I think the team has gotten stronger altogether. Also, our team chemistry has been getting a lot better," said Comeau.

"We're working harder and harder each game which is why I think we're getting better results now.

Tags: SHELLIE ONSTEAD, CAL FIELD HOCKEY






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