Bears Look to Rebound in Wake of 5-1 Loss

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Another day, another top-10 team.

On Sunday, the Cal field hockey team fell, 5-1, to No. 9 Wake Forest in the first game of its East Coast road trip. The Demon Deacons scored four goals in the first half to take a commanding lead from which the Bears could not recover.

Cal avoided the shutout with a goal by Megan Shimojima, assisted by Jordan O'Reilly, in the second half.

"It's just one of those things where if we maybe had gotten on the board first it would have been a different game," Cal head coach Shellie Onstead said.

The second leg of the squad's back-to-back doesn't get any easier with a trip to No. 2 North Carolina.

Before facing the Bears (5-5, 4-0 in NorPac) on Monday for a 10 a.m. tilt, the Tar Heels (10-0) opened the weekend with a 5-1 win over Wake Forest on Saturday. The match was only one example of what a balanced North Carolina squad has done all season.

With a perfect season record thus far, the Tar Heels have made defending a national title seem easy. Opponents have mustered only five goals in ten games against North Carolina's unyielding defense, which leads the nation with five shutouts. Keeper Jackie Kintzer had a hand in all of them and currently sports a 0.47 GAA.

Additionally, the Tar Heels' offense has been relentless, finding the back of the cage 41 times on 201 shot attempts.

Despite the Bears' loss on Sunday, North Carolina won't be taking the Bears lightly, as veteran coach Karen Shelton made clear to Onstead.

"I think we forced them to score good goals, and even the UNC coach thought that it was a closer game than the score indicated," Onstead said. "It's just one of those games you're going to learn from. You'll need to pick it up and go forward tomorrow."

One reason for UNC's success this season lies in the experience of seven returning starters from the 2009 NCAA Championship-winning squad. Among those are seniors Katelyn Falgowski, sophomore Kelsey Kolojejchick and Kintzer, all who were first-team All-American selections.

Although a concussion suffered in the preseason has kept Falgowski from taking the field in 2010, she has taken the injury in stride and used the opportunity to encourage her replacement, senior Elizabeth Drazdowski.

With eight points on the season, Drazdowski has quickly adapted to her new role as central midfielder and team leader.

Her on-field performances are complemented by fellow midfielder Kolojejchick, who is the Tar Heels' offensive leader with 20 points on eight goals and four assists.

Though facing North Carolina is perhaps Cal's most daunting challenge of the season, the Bears have not wavered against ranked opponents. Before playing Wake Forest on Sunday, Cal's record against ranked teams was 1-2.

Then-No. 7 Michigan barely edged Cal in a 4-3 victory that came on a last-minute, tie-breaking goal. Against then-No. 11 Louisville, the Bears tightened up defensively to limit a persistent Cardinals' offense that scored two goals in the first half, but failed to score in the second.

Cal's resiliency paid off in the match against then-No. 16 Stanford, in which the team outshot and out-cornered the Cardinal to pull off a 2-1 upset at Varsity Turf Field.


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

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