Cal Shuts Down Opponents in Three-Peat

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Just call Kelly Knapp selfish.

After achieving her goal of winning the starting keeper position on the Cal field hockey team, the sophomore spent her first three games blocking the potential goals of others.

Through 210 minutes of competitive play in the Midwest, Knapp returned home with a clean sheet at goal. Spotless. Not one drip of error.

Sweeping St. Louis, Southwest Missouri and Indiana respectively, the Bears (4-1, 2-0 in NorPac) took to hard-nosed defense and timely scoring as the formula for success, despite playing in a less-than-ideal setting.

"For the hot and humid conditions they were in for the first 2 games, I'm pretty pleased with the performance," Cal coach Shellie Onstead said. "The playing turf wasn't ideal, and there were a number of components we haven't worked on because of our limited practices."

The Bears opened the road trip with a dominating performance in a 2-0 win Thursday over the Billikens (0-2, 0-1 NorPac) to begin their conference play on a winning note and put them atop the NorPac conference standings.

Sophomore forward Maggie Grimes scored in the 10th minute of the game, setting the tone for the match in which Cal's offense proved too much for the less experienced Billiken defense.

Senior midfielder Stephanie Lyons netted an insurance goal to begin the second half and cap the scoring.

File/Rob Katzer
Michelle Wald (12) was crucial in the Bears' successful road trip, scoring Cal's only goals against Southwestern Missouri State and Indiana.

The Bears then travelled from a team with an unidentifiable mascot to one with a familiar ring.

Cal blanked its fellow Bears from Southwest Missouri State 1-0 Friday in a tight match featuring Knapp's stingy goalkeeping, which was more impressive against a tougher SMS squad.

Senior Michelle Wald pounced on the defense early, scoring in the 9th minute.

Knapp did the rest, collecting 10 saves for the day to keep SMS (1-1) scoreless despite facing 11 penalty corners.

"Three straight shutouts is pretty amazing in any sport," Onstead said of Knapp's performance. "It's great for Kelly especially since she's new as the full-time starter."

On Sunday, the Bears traveled to Bloomington, Ind. and defeated their final opponent of the successful road trip in familiar fashion.

Cal again used the Wald/Knapp combination to seize the lead against the Hoosiers (1-3), a lead they would hold onto for the 1-0 victory.

Knapp had eight additional saves in the flawless victory, including a few key saves down the stretch.

The sweep was big for the Bears, who rebounded from a tough overtime loss to Ohio State (2-1) at home.

"We were disappointed in that loss," Onstead said. "[The Ohio State match] absolutely motivated us for these games."


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