Bears Balance Out Emotions Heading Back East

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It's business as usual for the Cal field hockey team.

After holding on for a 3-2 victory at home over Harvard on Sunday, the Bears will trek back East for two more matches against non-conference opponents, Fairfield and Providence.

Although this is the third time this season that Cal (6-6) has traveled to the East Coast, coach Shellie Onstead believes that the road trip will give the boost her squad needs to finish off its four remaining regular season games.

"I think we had an emotional week and we'll be whole again come (this) weekend," Onstead said. "It's not physical at this point; it's just getting things going forward emotionally. I think going away is going to help, actually. "

The Bears kick off the road trip with a 1 p.m., contest on Friday against the Stags, who are close to completing a season unlike anything its program has seen in nearly a decade.

Since 2003, Fairfield has cracked the six-win barrier just once. Part of the reason for the slump may be attributed to its jump four years ago from the Northeast Conference to the America East Conference - a more competitive conference home to top programs like Boston University, Albany, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Despite an arduous schedule this season, the Stags (8-6) have already improved upon last season's 5-12 overall record, thanks to the right combination of experience and talent. Not only does Fairfield have almost an equal number of upper and underclassmen on its roster, but it also returned three of its top four scorers from last season's squad.

One of those scorers is junior Marit Westenberg, who currently leads the Stags with 22 points on eight goals and six assists. The forward tallied a goal and an assist in Fairfield's 3-2 win over Georgetown last weekend, giving the Stags four victories in their last six games.

Unlike the Friars who have been hard-pressed to find wins this season.

An inconsistent offense has been problematic for Providence (3-10). The Friars have struggled to create scoring opportunities; opponents have blanked Providence seven times this season while outscoring the Friars 32-11. The Bears take them on at 8 a.m., on Sunday.

Providence graduated eight starters from last year's squad, which helps to explain this season's struggling offense. One of the Friars' returning players, Ashlyn Hudson, leads the team with three goals and an assist.

Providence's offense came to life on Monday, outshooting Vermont on the way to a 2-1 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak. It was the Friars' second-longest winless streak this season after the team dropped its first six decisions to open its 2010 campaign.

With only four games left, Cal's matches against Fairfield and Providence are the last time the Bears will see non-conference opponents in the regular season.


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

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