Cal Sets Up Battle For Top Seed With Win Over Pacific

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Everything that could have gone wrong on Friday the grass, the rain didn't, leaving the Cal field hockey team to savor two small but significant words: "one win."

Paying no heed to the elements in a 3-0 shutout of Pacific, the Bears (8-7, 5-0 in NorPac) are now just one conference victory away from the top seed in the NorPac tournament.

"I was concerned about that coming into play, but it didn't," Cal head coach Shellie Onstead said after the win in Stockton, Calif. "(The team) played a really complete game. We didn't get flustered, so it was a non-factor and I'm really happy about that."

When the Bears defeated the Tigers (2-12, 0-4 in NorPac) by the same margin earlier in the season, it took Cal 41 minutes to get on the board. This time, it took seven minutes for Megan Shimojima to score her fifth goal of the season, giving the Bears the lead at Brookside Field.

The forward's goal, which came off a play into the box, also re-established that Cal's offense could be a threat both on the field and off penalty corner conversions. It was the Bears' first field goal since Shimojima's lone tally against Wake Forest on Oct. 3.

Unlike the Wake game, Cal's offensive output didn't stop after just one goal. The Bears continued to press the advantage and expanded the early one-goal edge to a commanding three-goal lead.

After Lisa Lohre scored on a penalty shot shortly before the end of the first half, fellow senior Megan Psyllos recovered a deflection to put the game out of reach. Psyllos' sixth goal of the season capped off a prolific three-point day for the midfielder, who also collected an assist on Shimojima's goal.

"We were a lot more effective inside the attacking 25 yards, and I could see that that was giving us confidence," Onstead said. "We just did a better job with the ball inside the 25, which was something that has been the focus this past week."

On defense, keeper Maddie Hand turned away shots on goal from Kelly Perkins and Jenna Vivian to keep the momentum on Cal's side. By posting three saves, Hand earned her first shutout of the season.

Everything that the Bears need for a strong showing in the NorPac tournament was on display against Pacific from in-game adjustments to outshooting the Tigers, 19-4. But for now, the victory is just a rehearsal for Cal's final regular season game against Stanford.

"I think this was a great confidence-builder, and everybody will be very excited about Friday night," Onstead said. "It's going to be a home atmosphere, last home game, Stanford, so it sets up really nicely. This was a great game to have right before that."


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

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