Spooky season has officially arrived, and the Bears approach this Halloween with two crucial games to end the season. The task of beating these two teams will not be a walk in the park, and it will test Cal’s resilience and ability to overcome the difficult matchups ahead.
For the weekend series, the Bears pack their gear and head to the East Coast once more to compete against the No. 3 and No. 4 positioned teams in the America East Conference standings. The first of these two, UMass Lowell, goes into Friday’s contest with an 11-5 record, a jarring comparison to a current blue and gold 4-9 season record.
Fresh off back-to-back wins with four goals scored in each, the River Hawks are looking strong, putting pressure on the defense of their opponents and capitalizing in the goal-scoring department. In contrast, the Bears have scored only twice in their last two games as they hope to find an offensive surge at Cushing Field Complex.
With the recent statistics favoring UMass Lowell in this matchup, history sides with Cal who holds a 2-1 record against this opponent in three meetings. Each of these games has resulted in one team being shut out, the first of which occurred back in 2015.
The Bears walked away with the 2-0 victory, having much success on offense and significantly outshooting their counterparts. The last two games played against the River Hawks took place in 2021, resulting in a 1-0 win for each team. Even though this historical data would be in favor of the Bears, the drastic difference in season records suggests that UMass Lowell has the upper hand in 2022.
The Bears compete against and lock horns with the Catamounts on Sunday in Burlington, Vermont. Cal will need to get hot on this cold morning and look to finish the season strong. UVM sports an even better season record than UMass Lowell and Cal at 12-4, but have not performed as well in conference appearances.
Vermont’s 4-3 record is good enough for fourth place in the AEC, but Cal and Stanford are right on their heels at 3-3 against conference opponents. Similar to the competition history between Cal and UMass Lowell, the Bears and the Catamounts have faced in three prior scuffles that resulted in two wins for Cal.
The most notable wins for the Bears occurred most recently, collecting two shutout victories in 2021 — both of which occurred away at Moulton Winder Field. Cal’s Jane Onners had a pivotal goal in last year’s victory, aiming to repeat her incredible effort once again. The Bears return to Vermont’s turf once again in an attempt to get the upset victory and plead their case for an AEC tournament spot.
With one or two victories this weekend — and/or major losses from Stanford and New Hampshire – Cal could secure a playoff berth. Playing two of the tougher teams in the entire division, the Bears will need to take matters into their own hands and find some offensive momentum in order to keep their season from being cut short.
It is crunch time for Cal as the final two games leave no breathing room nor margin for error. To win these contests, the Bears will need to score early to set the tone, rather than waiting until the final period to try and close the gap and make a comeback effort.
Can the Bears round off this season on an upward trajectory to the AEC tournament, or will the only spot they secure be on the disappointing plane ride home?