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Cal Field Hockey defies bad news about playing in Berkeley to open season strong, upsets No.6 Stanford 2-1 on Pac-12 Networks

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Our first Olympics sports gamethread of the year feature the somewhat surprising upstart Cal Field Hockey against our frenemy No.6 Stanford to open conference play. We also update some bad news relating to the new field for Cal Field Hockey, no home match until 2016. GOAL ON YOU BEARS!

Cal Field Hockey celebrated a huge win at No.14 Penn State last weekend. They will look to upset No.6 Stanford today.
Cal Field Hockey celebrated a huge win at No.14 Penn State last weekend. They will look to upset No.6 Stanford today.
Cal Field Hockey Facebook

How about that? The beleaguered Cal Golden Bears scored a huge upset with a 2-1 victory over No.6 Stanford.

Bears won for the first time since 2012, snapping a 7 game losing streak.

Here is the game winning goal by Sydney Earle.

This is also the first Cal victory over a top 10 opponent since 2007, when the Bears upset No.4 Michigan 1-0.

GOAL ON YOU BEARS!

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California Golden Bears (4-3) vs. No.6 Stanford Cardinal (6-1)

When: 1:30 PM PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

One of the earliest pleasant surprise of this 2015-16 school year for Cal Athletics has got to be the performance of the Cal Field Hockey team. Yes, their 4-3 record is perhaps a bit mediocre at first glance, but the adversity that these women have faced span beyond just their opponents. After playing the 2014 season all on the road due to the Athletics department taking away their field (turning Maxwell Family Field into a parking lot and a football practice field), the team was supposed to be playing at Underhill in 2015 (which was an afterthought as the University initially claimed that field was not usable for Field Hockey due to their need of water [field hockey field are watered down to keep the ball from flying up] and somehow conveniently found that water source after a Title IX lawsuit was filed by members of the team against our beloved Alma Mater). The latest news is, the field will not be ready until the Cal Field Hockey season is over in November.

No longer in question is whether the new field will be completed in time for the team to play any of its fall schedule games. "Barring some miracle, it's not going to be ready this season," Kiki Williams said.

Michael Williams explained in his most recent email to parents that on Sept. 3 a vendor began smoothing the field and repairing a previous surface that was unsuitable. Williams said that process will take about six weeks, followed by another three to four weeks to lay the subsurface and artificial turf.

By that timetable, the field wouldn't be ready until sometime in November. The team's regular-season schedule ends Oct. 30. All five originally scheduled home games will now be played at neutral sites.

Understandably, members of the team may not believe that they will even get to play in Berkeley in 2016. Cal fans who want to support this beleaguered team would have to travel to either Davis (UC Davis), Stockton (Pacific), or Palo Alto (Stanford) to see them play. Worse for our student-athletes, they continue to have to practice on the road as well. As pointed out in many articles documenting their 2014 ordeals, players have to give up taking certain courses so they can take long early morning bus rides twice a week to Stanford to practice on a full size field.

With the embarrassing lack of home and the fact that the top scorer and top goalie have graduated from the team, I had initially relatively low expectation on the team.

Losing your top scorer and starting goalie have all signs point to 2015 as a rebuilding year.

So far this season, Cal Field Hockey has proven me wrong. Bears opened the year losing to No.5 Duke, but it was merely an one goal deficit at the half. Bears beat Bryant 7-2 in their next game. Against No.12 Louisville, Bears dropped a tightly contested 1-0 decision. They then bounced back to rout St. Louis 7-1 and close the second week by beating a B1G team in Indiana by a 2-1 score.

Traveling to Pennsylvania last weekend, the Bears finally defeated a ranked team via a 3-2 (OT) win over No.14 Penn State. While Bears closed that trip with a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Bucknell (where the deciding goal came via a late penalty), the 4-3 record has exceed most expectations.

Standing in their way today are No.6 Stanford. In the last 10 years, Stanford has exceed Cal as the main field hockey powerhouse of the West Coast (aka the lone team in the West that is ranked). Cal has lost to Stanford for 7 straight matches (since 2012) but this young and spirit team have defied expectations and adversity, who says that they won't be able to overcome these Cardinal at their fancy facility?

Freshman Melina Moore is tied with junior Nicole Henriksson to lead the team in goals with 4 a piece. Junior Sydney Earle is also tied with the same amount of points with 3 goals and 3 assists.

Behind the net, redshirt sophomore Kori Griswold has been the starter for the Bears, averaging just 1.83 goals against average.

The match today is on the Pac-12 Networks. While I won't be provide live updates since I'll be on the road in Austin, I'm planning to catch part of the match thanks to modern technology. For those Cal fans also traveling to Austin, if you see a guy watching this match on his phone, feel free to stop by and say "hi".

GO BEARS!