In need of a win or two to make a push for the top of the standings, Cal ventured to Maine and New Hampshire in search of continued success. When met with adversity, the Bears’ driven spirits kicked in to compete against two determined opponents.
In two close contests, Cal fell just short of victory on the East Coast, keeping up with the competition for the duration of the game until the end. In Friday’s match, Maine took the 4-3 win, scoring two goals in the final period to sneak past the Bears’ grasp.
After the Black Bears grabbed the early lead 33 seconds into the game — put into the back of the net by Chloe Walton — Cal answered with two goals in the next eight minutes. The Bears conceded another goal to tie, battling to gain control once more in the succeeding 30 minutes.
Thanks to a goal by Sara Stone just before the end of the third period, Cal pushed ahead of first-place Maine, putting the Bears in the driver’s seat with 15 minutes to go. The Black Bears pounced on their opponents, once again scoring just over 30 seconds into a period and exemplifying their ability to shift the momentum with one deadly shot.
Maine would go on to deal the final blow in the remaining minutes as Walton added to her impressive game to break the tie and win her team the game. Her second and third goals of the season opened the scoring and closed the book on Cal.
Despite the loss, the Bears held their own against an impressive Maine team. Cal kept up with the opposition in all the main categories: 11 shots on goal compared to Maine’s 12, eight saves to Maine’s eight and nine penalty corners to Maine’s 10. The Bears were fierce for the entire game, even holding the lead at two different points in the game.
Cal’s ability to stay competitive in this contest is noteworthy since Maine improved to 9-3 on the season with this win, still commanding that number one spot in the AEC. Looking to bounce back from this loss, the Bears — in need of a win to stay in the middle of the pack — matched up against the Wildcats to complete the weekend road trip.
In a game where Cal outplayed UNH in many aspects, the Wildcats’ defense reigned supreme, saving four more goals than the Bears and setting their team up for a 5-2 victory. Cal even had more shots on net and more penalty corner opportunities, but the Bears’ defense was just not on par with their counterparts’ performance.
A bright spot for the Bears, however, centered around freshman forward Olivia Sharratt and junior forward/midfielder Caoimhe Byrne. Sharratt collected her first goal of the season, constituting her first collegiate goal that also tied the game at one a piece. Byrne had herself an exciting weekend series as well, scoring in back-to-back games for her first two goals of 2022.
On the other side of the field, midfielder Nicole Poulakis took control on offense for New Hampshire, putting on a clinic with a hat-trick and her ankle-breaking stickwork. Her three goals were the difference in this game, besting the Bears and swerving her team past Cal in the standings.
The Bears find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, sitting at 3-8 with four games left in the season. Their remaining schedule is no walk in the park either, competing against the second, third, and fifth place teams in the AEC.
It is crunch time for Cal, and there is no room for error.