The competitive atmosphere fills the air as conference play began across all sports in the Pac-12. Were the Bears hunted by their fierce opponents, the Great Danes and the Bulldogs, or did they send these teams to the pound?
Cal ventured to city capitals Albany and Providence to take on UAlbany and Bryant in the first two conference games of the season. The Bears started off against the Great Danes at Alumni Turf on Friday, facing off against a dominant UAlbany offense that showed out against Cal.
Led by Luisa Knapp and Alison Smisdom — who each scored two goals a piece — the Great Danes recorded 22 total shots with 16 on goal, resulting in five goals scored against the Bears. Both teams put pressure early on, as Cal tallied three shots and three penalty corners in the first period, while UAlbany took two shots and one penalty corner.
Only the Great Danes would continue this energy throughout the game, however, posting two more shots in the second period and eighteen shots in the remaining two periods. The Bears, on the other hand, went cold in the middle periods, only to reignite a comeback effort too little and too late in the game.
In spite of the loss, Cal’s Cato Knipping put up a notable effort with 10 saves, while Sophie Everett sank her first goal of the season on a great recovery of a deflected shot by her teammate Caoimhe Byrne. This scoring opportunity stemmed from a valiant penalty corner attempt, setting up Byrne and Everett to end the shutout before the end of regulation.
Cal suffered its sixth defeat of the season as UAlbany earned its sixth win. Even though the 1-5 loss to the Great Danes was not the start the Bears were looking for, it sparked their offensive explosion two days later against Bryant.
Cal found its groove in the second half of Sunday’s matchup as they put up 19 shots in the third and fourth periods, tallying a total of 21 shots and 11 on goal while keeping Bryant to an inadequate five shots total. The spark plug for the Bears was senior Rachel Buttinger who stole the show with a hat track — scoring two of the goals within a minute and a half of each other.
The last time a Cal field hockey player scored a hat trick was over four years ago, embodying just how special this milestone moment is for Buttinger and her teammates to experience. These three goals bring Buttinger’s total to four on the season, tying her career high set last year. She reached this mark in less games played and less shots taken, which provides her with the opportunity to set a new career high during the remainder of this season.
Her five shots on net and three goals scored led Cal to a 5-0 victory over Bryant, with additional goals by Monica Arteaga and Luzi Persiehl that bookended Buttinger’s three consecutive goals. This puts the Bears at 2-6 overall and a 1-1 record against conference opponents.
Cal scored season highs in shots and goals, which arose from the stellar passing game in the midfield that established the offense consistently throughout the game. The Bears’ ability to keep the ball on the opponent’s side of the field lined them up for success and kept the pressure on Bryant for the majority of the contest.
The Bears return to Underhill Field to take on last place UC Davis (1-8), looking to continue climbing the standings. If Cal unleashes the dog inside them — like against Bryant on Sunday — it may be just what the Bears needed to foster a win streak.