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Bears Battle Two Ranked Teams To Start 2021 Season

Aug 25, 2021
The Bears Open The 2021 Fall Campaign On Friday

BERKELEY - After completing a regular season last spring, the California field hockey team returns to action this week for the 2021 fall season opener. The Golden Bears head to Stanford to face the 25th-ranked Cardinal on Friday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. before hosting No. 10 Liberty in the home opener two days later on Sunday, Aug. 29, at noon from Underhill Field. The meeting with the Cardinal will count as a non-conference matchup.       
The Bears finished the spring 2021 campaign with an overall record of 5-6, and a fifth-place finish in the America East standings with a conference record of 4-4, just missing the conference tournament. 

The Bears return their top six scorers from the spring, including point leaders and team captains Brynn Zorilla and Maddie Cleat. Cato Knipping is back in the cage after playing every minute in goal in the spring. Cal brings in nine newcomers, including two graduate transfers - Anne Van Hoof (Wake Forest) and Lyndsay Swanston (Bryant University).

Cleat And Zorilla Lead Offense
• Maddie Cleat and Brynn Zorilla are Cal's top returning scorers from last spring, For the third straight season, Zorilla earned America East All-Conference First Team honors. She and Cleat tied as the team leaders in scoring with 10 points on four goals and two assists each. Cleat returns as a graduate student this fall with another year of eligibility given due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Cato In The Cage
• After defending the Cal goal for every minute last spring, Cato Knipping comes into the fall season with some momentum. The Bears' junior keeper earned America East Defensive Player of the Week honors for the final weekend of the spring season after earning three wins in the final weekend, making a combined 19 saves and earning one shutout. She finished the campaign with a GAA of 1.68 and a save percentage of 0.768. Knipping made a career-high 12 saves at Stanford after collecting a previous personal best of eight saves in the first meeting against the Cardinal.

Bears All-Time Vs. Stanford, Liberty
• The Bears are 53-59-5 all-time vs. Stanford, and the Cardinal have won the last six meetings. The last time Cal beat Stanford was on Oct. 15, 2017, a 4-2 win over the 14th-ranked Cardinal. That victory is also Cal's last win over a ranked opponent. When these teams last met on The Farm, Stanford won, 3-0.    
• Cal is 1-2 all-time against Liberty, and the Flames have won the last two meetings, most recently in 2014. The Bears beat Liberty, 1-0, on Sept. 8, 2013.  

Kiki Kicks Off Second Season
• After being named the America East Rookie of the Year and to the AE All-Conference First Team, Kiki de Bruijne returns this fall. In the spring of 2021, de Bruijne totaled six points (third on the team) on three goals (second on the team).    

Season Openers
• The Bears are 15-11 in season openers with the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead at the helm. Cal's most-recent season-opening victory was 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. UC Davis beat the Bears, 2-1, in the 2021 spring season opener. 

Smart Bears
• A program-record group of 23 Cal field hockey student-athletes honored with 2020 Zag Field Hockey/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad laurels. Cato Knipping, Natalie Moore, Sara Stone and Kaiden Stanley were tabbed NFHCA Scholars of Distinction with Knipping earning the honor for the second straight year. Cal was also once again tabbed an NFHCA National Academic Squad. In addition, 22 Bears earned America East Honor Roll accolades, with 16 picking up AE Commissioner's Honor Roll stature (3.5 GPA or better). Earlier this week, Cal won the Newmark Award for the highest GPA (3.603) among Cal's large women's programs.  

Next Up
• Cal remains in Berkeley for its next contest on Sunday, Sept. 5, when the Bears host Dartmouth at 11 a.m. from Underhill Field.    

America East Preseason Poll
• America East coaches predict a seventh-place overall finish and second among west teams for Cal in the America East preseason poll. The Golden Bears earned 28 votes. Monmouth was predicted to win the league with 61 votes and five first-place votes. Stanford led the three west coast schools with 30 votes and a sixth-place finish.  

New Coaches
• Cal added two new assistant coaches this fall - Manuel Martinez and former Golden Bear Katrina Carter. Martinez garnered 13 years of competing for USA Field Hockey along with international and in-state coaching experience. Highlighting Martinez's tenure with USA Field Hockey include being part of two first-place squads at the 2012 and 2016 World League. He also won bronze at the 2008 Junior Pan American Games. Competing for the Bears from 2015-19, Carter was named to the America East All-Rookie Team in 2016 and concluded her collegiate career finishing second on the team in points (22) and goals (10) in 2019. 

Rodgers Elevates To National Team
• One of the most prolific scorers in the history of the California field hockey program from 2017-19, Megan Rodgers was named to the 2021-22 U.S. National Team in June. Rodgers became Cal's first U.S. National Team player since Sheryl Johnson and Marcy Place competed for Team USA at the 1988 Summer Olympics. Rodgers and her squad reconvened for training this month in preparation for the 2022 Pan American Cup from Jan. 20 to Jan. 30 in Santiago, Chile.

Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award
• Showing unified courage and leadership after experiencing the tragic unexpected passing of teammate Zoë Rogers last October, Cal won the Pac-12 2020-21 Sportsmanship Award, which is annually award to a Pac-12 program based on good sportsmanship and ethical behavior in participation of intercollegiate athletics, as well as a demonstration of good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. For more info, click here