Back In Camp: Field Hockey
BERKELEY - The Cal field hockey team returned to camp on Wednesday and with it is a return to a familiar "cycle." With 2021 in the rearview mirror and the strangeness of two seasons in one calendar year, the Bears can focus on the positives moving forward.
2021 saw the Bears play an unprecedented spring season before the normal fall campaign due to the impact of COVID-19. That said, even with the unique experience of playing back-to-back campaigns, Cal is excited about the upcoming season.
"The cycle is more what we are familiar with," said Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead. "I'm going to stop using the word 'normal', but the cycle is more what we are used to so we feel better prepared entering this season. I think that's one of the reasons there's so much excitement in the group. There are a number of classes that have only just experienced that cycle. My rising juniors, for example, never had a dorm experience."
One of the main reasons for the excitement heading into the fall is that the Bears are coming off a very successful season. Last fall, Cal went 10-7, the most wins the Bears have strung together since 2016 when they went 16-4. It marks the 20th time in the program's 45 years that Cal has won 10 or more games.
Cal brings back 8 athletes who started 12 or more games last season. Moreover, the Bears bring back a wealth of its potent attack from 2021, including Megan Connors, Rachel Buttinger, Jane Onners, Kiki de Bruijne and Sara Stone, who combined to score 25 of the Bears' 26 goals from last season.
Also back for Cal is 2021 American East All-Tournament Team keeper Cato Knipping, who finished the season with 79 saves and 5 shutouts. Her 1.43 goals against average in 2021 were tied for third-best in the AE, as was her .763 save percentage.
The Bears also have an exciting group of incoming players, including a pair of U-21 players. Onstead and her staff once again recruited heavily in California and all over the world, adding Caoimhe Byrne, a member of Ireland's U-21 National team, and grad transfer Luzi Persiehl from Hamburg, Germany, by way of Fairfield. The four-time letter winner for the Stags played in 57 games, making 51 starts while tallying 33 career points.
Cal begins its regular season on the road this year, taking on Miami (Ohio) in Oxford, Ohio, on Friday, August 26 at 11:00 a.m. PT. The Bears make their regular season home debut on Friday, September 2 at 6:00 p.m. against Bellarmine at Underhill Field.
Cal will host scrimmages that are open to the public on back-to-back Sundays. On the 14th Cal will take on Fog City and on the 21st they host the Olympic Club. Both those scrimmages will take place at 2:00 p.m.