March to Playoffs Continues

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The Cal field hockey team has found it in overtime, at shootouts, and Saturday in Stockton the Bears found it in the grass.

As a turf playing team, the Bears are not use to the real green stuff, but Cal still pulled out a 1-0 win against Pacific.

"Playing on turf slows the game down a lot, the sort of things you are use to doing on turf just don't happen," Cal coach Shellie Onstead said. "You have to cut to the ball instead of waiting. The finesse a turf team is used to playing with is taken out on the grass."

The player who mustered up that finesse was junior midfielder Sarah Hunt.

Early into the second half a ball was crossed from the right to mid-fielder Bonnie Chang.

Chang quickly redirected the ball to Hunt, who was coming full speed toward the goal. Seven yards out Hunt one timed the ball into the top of the net.

"It was a very nice goal," Onstead said. "She caught the goalie off guard and their goalie is really good."

Pacific's keeper Lisa Beach had to play well to block the 16 shots the Bears knocked her way.

"We had quite a few good shots especially on grass," Onstead said. "I was afraid that the battle was going to be in the midfield and that we weren't going to get a lot of good balls upfield but we created a lot of chances."

After defeating Stanford two weeks ago, the Bears (6-3, 3-0 in the NorPac) are poised to take the conference championship, and have two conference games remaining. Although Pacific is in Cal's conference, the win did not count as a conference game.

The win over Pacific was Cal's third straight and the offense has been able to find consistency despite the absence of two of its top leaders in Nora Feddersen and Elizabeth Harkins.

Feddersen leads the team with 28 shots and four goals, but has been plagued with bronchitis since the team played Stanford, a week and a half ago.

Harkins is second on the team in shots and goals, however she injured her hamstring and has not been on the field since the game against South West Missouri, three weeks ago.

"We have long term aspirations, not just getting them back for this or that game," Onstead said. "Medical decides whether they should play and I concur. I would rather have them back and be safe rather than having (an ailment) that is nagging."

Harkins is likely to be healed and ready for practice this week, however Onstead said Feddersen is still day to day.

Onstead believes players like Chang, freshman Danya Sawyer and Erin Booth have stepped in to create offensive chances.

"We have been playing consistency, and it is only going to get better when we drop Liz back in," Onstead said.

For the Tigers the loss was another notch in a mounting winless streak. Pacific has not won a game all season and was shutout by Boston, 8-0.

"They are one of those teams who are unfortunate because they are better than that record," Onstead said. "They took us to overtime the first time we played and I let our team know not to take Pacific lightly."

Saturday's match was a nonconference match for the two teams who had already faced off early this season.

The first game was in August at Kleeberger field and the Bears were barely able to slip through the Tigers paws in double overtime, 4-3.

"I think the value of this win was we showed ourselves we will find a way to win," Onstead said, "It may not be pretty but we will do it."

Up next for the Bears is Cornell on Monday at 3 p.m. at Kleeberger field. The game jumpstarts six home games in a row for Cal.

Since East Coast schools have such strong field hockey programs, Onstead believes it will be great preparation for the two remaining conference matches.

"(Cornell) is a solid Ivy League team and we will have to be on our good game," Onstead said.


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