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Bears Fall To Vermont In Heartbreaker

Oct 30, 2022
Sophie Everett scored her second goal of the season late in the fourth quarter, but it wouldn't be enough.

BURLINGTON, Vt – The Cal field hockey team dropped a heartbreaker on the road to host Vermont on Sunday afternoon, falling 4-3 in overtime at Moulton Winder Field. The Catamounts (13-4, 5-3 America East) scored the equalizer on an untimed penalty corner at the end of regulation and scored the game-winner less than 30 seconds into overtime on a goal by Sophia Lefranc.

The Golden Bears (4-10, 3-5 AE) were playing for their postseason lives and looked to have the game-winning goal late in the fourth by Sophie Everett and came up with several defensive stops but could not get the crucial stop on the final play in regulation.

"Really tough way to end the season after an exceptional performance from my team," said the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead. "The stroke calls were surprising, but I was really happy by the effort and resilience of my team. Starting with pregame this morning, I had the feeling that this would be the day we put it all together and it was really our best effort. We lost Abbey in the middle of the game and the team picked her. We switched up some things tactically and the team picked up those adjustments on the fly. I was pretty eager to carry today's effort forward and I felt like were in a good place. So, we are really disappointed that we aren't going to be able to carry that forward into the tournament."

Overall, Cal had a strong game offensively finishing with 12 shots, 11 on goal. In the fourth quarter alone, the Bears had the momentum taking seven shots, all on target. However, they would not get the insurance goal past the Catamount's keeper Sierra Espeland who had eight saves on the afternoon.

Vermont countered with 17 shots on the day, including 10 on goal. In overtime, Vermont blasted a shot early and Cato Knipping knocked it away for her sixth save of the day. However, the Catamounts corralled the loose ball and Lefranc sent a shot past Knipping from the right side of the circle for the game-winner.

In the opening 30 minutes, neither side achieved much on the offensive side of the ball. Cal had the early momentum with three shots in the first quarter. The Bears had a pair of shots in the first period and dominated possession, the best look on goal came at the seven-minute mark when Luzi Persiehl took a shot from the left side of the circle on a penalty corner that was blocked.

The Catamounts returned serve in the second quarter and almost took the lead just before halftime when a Golden Bear turnover led to an open look against the goal, however, Knipping was up to the task and turned the attack away for her second save of the day to preserve the tie.

Out of the break, Cal took the early lead thanks to Persiehl and Monica Arteaga. Persiehl took the ball almost the length of the field and on the left side of the circle dumped a pass to Arteaga who beat the Catamount keeper for the game's opening goal in the 32nd minute.

Not long after, the Catamounts got even on a penalty stroke by Haley Buffenbarger which was awarded after a costly turnover inside the Bears' circle in the 36th minute.

The wild third quarter continued, in the 40th minute Rachel Buttinger scored her fifth goal of the year when she took the pass from Persiehl inside the circle and sent the ball to the back of the cage. But once again, the Bears' lead did not last long as Vermont was awarded its second penalty stroke of the period in the 44th minute. Alina Gerke got the better of Knipping to even things up just before the end of the quarter.

The wild second half continued into the fourth quarter. The drama began with the Bears taking the lead in the 56th minute thanks to a shorthanded goal by Everett, her second of the season, coming off the assist by Buttinger.

Cal's defense was tremendous down the stretch denying the Catamounts several attempts at an equalizer. However, as time expired at the end of regulation, Vermont was awarded an untimed penalty corner and Maddie Moran scored the game-tying to send the game into overtime.

Knipping's six saves give her 86 for the year and 251 for her career. Buttinger finished the season with a career-best five goals to lead the Bears, giving her 11 for her career. Persiehl's two assists give her five for the year, she finished the season with two goals and five assists for 13 points which were tied for second-most on the team.

"I feel the seniors behaved as the way you want your seniors to perform in a crucial game," added Onstead. "I told them that they didn't have to play their best game, they just have to be great seniors and lead by example. There was a lot of consoling to be done, but they were tremendous."

The Bears' season comes to an end due to Stanford's 3-0 win over New Hampshire. The Cardinal and Bobcats will take the final two spots in the America East Tournament which will begin next week in Orono, Maine.
 
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