By Arman Kassam
On Sunday, No. 20 Stanford Field Hockey (12-4, 4-0 America East) defeated Cal (5-10, 2-3 America East) in the second of two matches between the rivals this season. Sunday’s game was a case of déjà vu, as the Cardinal first bested the Golden Bears 3-2 at Berkeley two weeks ago and then did the same yesterday. Stanford has won 11 of its past 13 games against Cal.
The Cardinal have been on a roll, winning their past four matches and previously holding an eight-game winning-streak earlier in the season. In their first match against Cal on Oct. 12, the Cardinal were able to start the game off with a 2-0 lead that gave them some breathing room for the rest of the match. Even though Berkeley’s Megan Rodgers put two in the net later on in that game, Stanford still came out on top.
Seeking revenge, a highly offensive Cal confronted Stanford right at the outset of yesterday’s match. The Golden Bears racked up penalty corners in the first half to set themselves up for an early lead, but all of their chances were crushed by junior goalkeeper Kelsey Bing and her dexterous defense. Bing set a career high in saves during the game, finishing with 11.
As the period went on, both teams had opportunities, but it was Stanford that was able to capitalize on those chances. A goal from sophomore attacker Corinne Zanolli in the fifth minute sent Cal a signal that the Cardinal were not messing around. Stanford was able to maintain possession and keep the action on the Golden Bears’ side of the turf through the gargantuan efforts of junior midfielder Phoebe Crosthwaite and junior defender Nina Randolph. Eventually, just as Stanford had solidified a lead against Cal in its last contest, Randolph put one in the net to give the Cardinal a nice 2-0 cushion.
The good times didn’t last long though; the Golden Bears’ Katrina Carter slid the ball past Kelsey Bing four minutes before the period ended. Berkeley was intent on splitting the seams of the Cardinal cushion.
“It’s always a big game when we play them,” remarked Zanolli, who is now second in the nation in terms of goals scored (an astronomical 23). She added, “We’ve been playing really well as an offensive unit this year.”
Even if that’s the case, Stanford’s synergy in the second half was still something out of the ordinary. The first 10 minutes were marked by countless Cardinal attempts at goal, matched also by Bing’s legendary defense. In the 13th minute, Cal had an unhindered chance at the Cardinal net, but Bing immediately rushed out from her position and swatted the ball away from the Golden Bears’ possession. Bing also minimized Cal’s chances in the 22nd minute of the second half when she ran up to the Golden Bear offense just as they were in the middle of a breakaway. Only three minutes later, Bing swatted away another Cal strike like it was nothing. There’s no other way to put it: The Cardinal goalie was bending the earth around her, block after block. And whenever Bing swatted away those shots with ease and sprezzatura, the Cardinal offense put the pressure on Cal. In the 27th minute, Zanolli crystallized the Stanford lead with another goal. Cal tried to bounce back and eventually scored again in the 32nd minute, when the Golden Bears’ Melina Moore won a penalty stroke to make it 3-2, but it wasn’t enough.
“We set the standard,” commented Cardinal head coach Tara Danielson. “The score doesn’t set the standard; the other team doesn’t set the standard. We don’t play the name; we play the game.” Another victory for the already-successful Cardinal only adds to their indomitable momentum, but Coach Danielson knows that bitter work does not end here: “There’s always room for improvement… I’d like for us to start on our toes instead of our heels.”
Stanford leaves the Bay for a bout against UC Davis (6-11, 0-5 America East) on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Contact Arman Kassam at armank ‘at’ stanford.edu.