Field Hockey: Bears Christen Maxwell Field With Win

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Sept. 21 should be officially recognized as Bizarro Day.

Hours before the football team bumbled away the game to Air Force next door at Memorial, the Cal field hockey team did its part in making the day unpredictable by upsetting a heavily favored Iowa squad.

Newly finished Maxwell Family Field was in perfect shape, and so were the Bears (5-1, 1-0 in NorPac) .

Playing a match on the surface for the first time, No. 18 Cal came back from a second-half deficit to blitz the No. 8 Hawkeyes (4-3) with quick strikes and hold on for a 3-2 victory.

After the final whistle blew, Cal coach Shellie Onstead spoke words of congratulations to the team.

"I'm really pleased with their performance," Onstead said. "I wasn't sure they were ready. They caught fire."

After a scoreless first half, Iowa forward Pattie Gillern opened the scoring, deftly lobbing the ball over the head of goalkeeper Kelly Knapp.

That's when Cal woke up.

In a span of less than three minutes, the Bears used crisp ball handling and passing to exploit open seams and score twice.

On both occasions, Pooja Mehta scored from a Nora Feddersen pass on eerily similar plays.

"After Iowa scored, we were pumped up and hungry to prove ourselves," Mehta said.

Just a minute later, Cal made the play of the game, possibly the season.

Forward Lisa D'Anjou took possession off a steal and raced down the sideline, playing a perfect give and go, weaving through defenders and spotting senior Michelle Wald with a baseline backpass.

The goal earned the team free yogurt-a team rule made exactly for beautiful plays like that. Truly a Yoplait moment.

Still, Iowa battled back with a goal on a penalty corner in the 18th minute. With momentum beginning to shift, Onstead called a timeout to prepare her troops for a final stand.

"I just told them to settle down and stick to a simple game, buy time and attack," Onstead said. "Not just play defense.

It worked. Cal withstood numerous chances and penalty corners from a determined Hawkeye team. Knapp continued her fine stretch of performances with a six saves.

"The win really helps with our team's confidence and morale," Mehta said.

Judging by the hunched shoulders and solemn faces of their opponents, it looked as if the Bears took away more than a victory from Iowa.


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