Bears Battle To OT, But Fall At UAlbany, 2-1
ALBANY, NY - Battling to the end after falling behind, 1-0, in the first quarter, the California field hockey team finally found the equalizer late, but lost in overtime at UAlbany, 2-1, in the regular season finale Sunday afternoon at Alumni Turf on the UAlbany campus.
The Golden Bears completed the regular season with a record of 9-6, 5-3, and the Bears finished in fourth place in the America East Conference standings.
Brynn Zorilla found the back of the cage on a penalty corner with 90 seconds remaining to tie the game at 1. The Bears scored that goal while being a player down after Jane Onners received a five-minute yellow card earlier in the quarter. Megan Connors and Claire Hind tallied assists on the goal.
"It was an epic game," said the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead. "We scored while serving a yellow card, so that right there is a major moment for the team to overcome. Down by one, the clock ticking and you go down a player, a lot of teams would roll over at that point, but we fought back."
After missing on a penalty stroke earlier in the game, Onstead had faith in Zorilla on the crucial penalty corner.
"We called a corner that was uncharacteristic," Onstead said. "It was more of a gut feeling for me. Brynn had missed a penalty stroke earlier in the game, which can be a backbreaker, and I gave her the shot. I believed in her, and she got the goal, so that was cool. At that point, we're pretty sure we're going into overtime, but you still have to serve the rest of that card out."
Still serving the remainder of the yellow card at the outset of overtime, the Bears kept the Great Danes off the scoreboard, but not after some serious improvising when UAlbany gained a penalty corner.
"You can only run out three players in overtime, so it's tricky," Onstead said. "Kiki got thrown out for jumping out too soon, so now we're down to two. You don't get to replace her. So now, we have two defenders and our goalie to defend this corner, and we haven't practiced that before, it's so uncommon. They had to figure out in the cage what they were going to do. Brynn got a touch on the shot, and it made it into kind of a knuckleball and Cato got it out. You get such a rush on the sideline from overcoming that situation. I was really confident all through overtime."
Alison Smisdom scored both goals for the Great Danes, including the overtime game winner. Onstead credited her with making a nice shot to get it past Cato Knipping.
Zorilla posted four shots - all on goal - throughout the contest. The Bears' other captain, Maddie Cleat, boasted seven shots, five on goal. The shots on goal totals were career highs for both Bears.
In addition to the strong play from the captains, Knipping was solid again in the cage, making five saves for the Bears, including stopping multiple point-blank shots and guiding the defense through the turbulent overtime penalty corner.
Cal outshot UAlbany, 15-11, and earned six corners to five for the Great Danes.
With Monmouth's victory today over UC Davis, the Hawks clinched the second seed in next week's America East Conference Tournament, which takes place from Thursday, Nov. 4, to Sunday, Nov. 7. Cal earned the four seed and will compete against the five seed New Hampshire in the first round on Thursday. Top seed Maine will host the tournament, and the Bears will play Maine on Friday if they advance to the semifinals. More information on the tournament will be available in the coming days.