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Bears Open 2021 Spring Season At UC Davis

Mar 3, 2021
Cato Knipping Made A Season-High Seven Saves In The Final Game Of 2019

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BERKELEY - After not competing during the fall semester due to the COVID-10 global pandemic, the California field hockey team returns to action this week for the 2021 spring season opener, heading east to face UC Davis on Sunday, March 7, at 2 p.m. from Aggie Field Hockey Facility. Although these squads are America East foes, this match will be a non-conference contest.    
The Golden Bears finished the 2019 campaign with an overall record of 8-11, and a second-place finish in the West Division in the America East standings. Cal advanced to the semifinals of the 2019 America East Tournament before falling to eventual champion Monmouth, 4-3. The America East has combined the two divisions into one for the 2021 spring season. The Bears will play a conference-only schedule except for two non-conference games against UC Davis to begin the season and a non-conference home game vs. Stanford on April 6.  
Cleat And Zorilla Lead Offense
• Maddie Cleat and Brynn Zorilla are Cal's top returning scorers from 2019, with Cleat finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 16 points (6 goals, 4 assists) and Zorilla right behind tied for fifth with 11 points (3 goals, 5 assists). A junior, Zorilla earned her second-straight all-conference honor in 2019. 
Strong Sophomores
• Jane Onners and Megan Connors return in 2021 after earning America East all-rookie honors in 2019. Connors and Onners appeared in every game in 2019, with Connors starting 18 contests and 15 for Onners. Connors scored twice, and added two defensive saves, while Onners was a staple in the backend as a counted-on contributor as a true freshman.
Bears All-Time Vs. UC Davis
• Cal is 25-6-1 all-time vs. UC Davis, and the Bears had won the last five in a row before the Aggies beat Cal in the 2019 regular season finale. The Bears won the meeting in Berkeley, 3-2, in overtime when Megan Rodgers found the back of the cage to end it. Megan Connors scored and also garnered a critical defensive save late in the fourth quarter to help send the game into overtime.  
Season Openers
• The Bears are 15-10 in season openers with Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead at the helm. Over the past 16 seasons, the Bears are 9-7 in season openers. In the 2019 season opener, Cal defeated Quinnipiac, 5-1, at Underhill Field. Maddie Cleat scored twice and Megan Connors scored her first goal in her collegiate debut.
 America East Preseason Poll
• America East coaches predict a sixth-place overall finish and second among west teams for Cal in the America East preseason poll. The Golden Bears earned 29 votes. Monmouth was predicted to win the league with 60 votes and five first-place votes. Stanford led the three west coast schools with 46 votes and one first-place vote. 
Smart Bears
• A program-record group of 17 Cal field hockey student-athletes honored with 2019 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad laurels. In addition, Cato Knipping was recognized as Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I Scholars of Distinction, and the Bears were once again recipients of Zag Field Hockey/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I National Academic Team honors.
Share The Wealth
• A total of eight Bears will play multiple positions during the 2021 spring season, including two who will play three. Rachel Buttinger is listed on Cal's roster as a forward, midfield and she's the backup goalkeeper for starter Cato Knipping. Freshman Sabine Hommes is listed in the backfield, midfield and forward. Five of the eight Bears playing multiple positions are true freshmen.   
Head Coach Position Endowed
• Thanks to a pair of $1 million gifts from Tom Shaffer and his mother, Abby, and Emily Risberg and her husband, Jeff, field hockey became the first women's sport at Cal to have its head coaching position endowed in February of 2020. The position will be known as the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey, named in honor of the Golden Bears' first head coach. Fong oversaw the program for 19 seasons, beginning with the team's initial campaign in the fall of 1976. She ultimately guided the team to the postseason seven times before her retirement in 1994. Over her final three seasons, Fong led Cal to three conference titles and earned NorPac Coach of the Year each time. 
Bears Sign Six
• Cal signed six signees to National Letters of Intent last Fall - Sophie Everett (San Diego), Cassidy Puleo (Valencia), Gracie Jimenez (San Diego) and Bay Area native Elana Eisenberg (Los Altos). Madeline Zacchini will trek to Berkeley from Bolton, Mass., and Monet Stuckey will cross the pond from Oxshott, Surrey, United Kingdom. Later in the spring, the Bears announced the additions of Anne Van Hoof (The Netherlands) - a transfer from Wake Forest - and Sydney Decher (Germany).

Forever A Bear
•Zoë Rogers, a sophomore goalkeeper, passed away unexpectedly in October. In addition to her drive to succeed on the pitch and in the classroom, Rogers also gave back to her community in numerous ways. She was a member of the executive board of the Black Student-Athlete Committee (BSAC). In her local community in Hatfield, Pa., she served on the board of Common Bondz, a not-for-profit organization focused on educating what drives racism and bias against African Americans. Most recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rogers returned home to be a mentor for the current students at her high school.
Red, White, Blue & Gold
• As we approach the 2021 Summer Olympic Games, in addition to current coaches Shellie Onstead, Austin Pile and Malachi Mahan holding national team playing or coaching experience, Brynn Zorilla (U19, U21), Megan Connors (U19) and Sara Stone (U17) have played for U.S. National teams.

Next Up
• Cal meets UC Davis again on Friday, March 12, from Underhill Field in the Bears' 2021 home opener. Similar to Sunday's contest, next Friday's match against the Aggies will be a nonconference matchup.  

Stay Tuned
For complete coverage of Cal field hockey, please follow the Bears on Twitter (@CalFieldHockey), Instagram (@calfieldhockey) and Facebook (/CalFH).