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Bears Take America East Conference Opener Over UNH, 3-2

Sep 24, 2021
Cal Won Its First Conference Opener Since 2017

DURHAM, NH - Posting 12 shots, eight on goal, the California field hockey team defeated New Hampshire, 3-2, in the America East Conference opener Friday afternoon at Memorial Field on the New Hampshire campus. 

The Golden Bears improved to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Friday's win marked Cal's first win in a conference opener since 2017.

"It was our first conference game and it's such a different animal," said the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead. "I expect every conference game to be within a one-goal margin. We made some changes with our structure, and we worked pretty hard yesterday on our press. That really showed today. It's nice for the team to put in that work and then see the reward. Today was a good team effort."

Rachel Buttinger scored twice, while Sara Stone tallied a goal and an assist. Buttinger led the Bears with four shots, three on goal. She is now tied for the team lead in points on the season with Anne Van Hoof with eight (four goals). 

Cal struck first in the opening quarter. Kiki de Bruijne flipped a cross pass towards the cage that was tipped in by Stone. The goal marked Stone's second goal in as many games after scoring against No. 4 Northwestern last Sunday. New Hampshire evened the score on a penalty stroke later in the quarter to make it 1-1 after one. 

Stone's assist came in the second quarter when she assisted on Buttinger's first goal of the day. Buttinger tipped a shot by Stone over the keeper and in the cage. 

Buttinger garnered her second tally in the third quarter with an assist credited to Maddie Cleat after Buttinger tipped a shot by Cleat past the goalie. The Wildcats answered in the final minutes of the third quarter, cutting Cal's lead down to 3-2. 

"We worked a lot on trying to have better conversions once we dropped ball into the circle," Onstead said. "It really paid off. They had some good chances for tipping in, and all three of our goals were scored that way. So it was a real credit to the forwards."

Returning to the cage after missing last week's games, Cato Knipping made six saves in her fourth win of the season. 

"Cato played really well," Onstead said. "She had some tricky decisions as to whether to attack the ball or not, and that can make or break you, and she did great with that today."

Cal faces UMass-Lowell next on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 9 am PT.