Nov. 4, 2011
The No. 16 California Golden Bears knocked off the top seed from the East, the Longwood Lancers, 2-0 in the semifinal game of the NorPac Tournament. The Bears advance to take on the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal in the conference championship game Saturday afternoon at Stanford.
"It is really exciting to be back in the final," said head coach Shellie Onstead. "Nothing was easy. We put a really solid game together today. I think that sets us up nicely for tomorrow."
Longwood (12-9, 5-1 Nor Pac), the top-ranked team from the conference's east division, and the Bears played an even first half with Longwood tallying five shots to the Bears' six. Cal broke the deadlock at the 33:16 mark when senior defender Erin Magill smashed a ball into the net after a corner.
Sophomore forward Andrea Earle, the NorPac West Offensive Player of the Year, added another goal to her conference-leading total early in the second half. Earle dribbled around the circle, making her own opportunity and taking a shot, finding net for a 2-0 lead.
"This was the goal that gave us all a sigh of relief," said Onstead. "It was just so poised. That is what she has been doing all year and it was really nice to see it."
The Lancers helped the Bears cause with ten minutes left in the game. A shot by freshman forward Lara Kruggel deflected off a Lancer stick, giving Cal a 3-0 lead and Kruggel credit for the goal.
Senior goalkeeper Maddie Hand played most of the game in goal, making four saves before giving way in the final five minutes for freshman goalkeeper Courtney Hendrickson. Hendrickson made a huge save in the final minute on a shot off a corner to preserve the shutout.
"Maddie is a competitor and I can tell she really didn't want to come out. It was good to give Courtney some minutes. Maddie really wants to take ownership and she did a great job today with the shutout."
The victory for the Bears sets up a showdown with the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal advanced to the championship game with a 7-2 victory over Davidson. The Bears and the Cardinal will play at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Stanford. Tickets for the game are FREE.
"It is going to take a game like today," Onstead replied when asked what it is going to take to get back to the NCAA's. "Patience. Persistence. There was a lot of belief here today. We need to carry that forward. This is precisely why Maddie and Erin came back for a fifth year. They are going to take us into it."
The winner of the NorPac Tournament will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will host an NCAA play-in game on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 11 a.m.