ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s field hockey team inched closer to hosting the America East Tournament for the second straight season by rallying from a pair of one-goal deficits to beat the University of California 4-3 in a see-saw thriller Friday afternoon.

The Black Bears’ eighth-straight win gave the nation’s 22nd-ranked team its ninth win against three losses overall. UMaine is now 4-0 in the conference.

Every other team in the conference has at least two losses except 4-1 UMass Lowell. The Black Bears beat the River Hawks so they would win a potential tie-breaker.

California is 3-7 and 2-2, respectively.

Junior back Poppy Lambert’s team-high 13th goal of the season, 31 seconds into the fourth period, tied it up at 3-3. Fifth-year senior forward Chloe Walton’s sixth goal, and second of the game, decided it 7:56 later.

Walton had opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the game off a Tereza Holubcova pass, but the Golden Bears carried the play the rest of the period and took a 2-1 lead on goals by Caoimhe Byrne and Kiki de Bruijne.

Byrne’s goal was her first of the season, and de Bruijne’s was her third.

Lambert tied it in the second period with a penalty stroke after goalie Cato Knipping had kicked her first one out a few minutes earlier.

Sara Stone rifled a chest-high shot past UMaine goalie Mia Borley off a Sydney Decher pass with 1:18 left in the third period to give Cal a 3-2 lead. It was her fourth.

Lambert’s tying goal came on UMaine’s 10th and final penalty corner of the game.

Holubcova inserted the corner to Madisyn Hartley, who set it up for Lambert.

“Sometimes they go in and other times they don’t,” said Lambert. “That was just a straight shot into the corner. It was open.”

Lambert’s low blast sailed by Knipping’s left foot.

Pivotal play: Walton’s game-winner came on a reverse stick bullet that she roofed into the far corner.

Julia Ross fed her a pass and she broke in down the left wing before teeing up her shot and elevating it over Knipping, who moved across but had no chance.

“(Knipping) challenged us the whole game. It took me the whole game to figure it out,” said Walton.

“We talk about trying to get around the goalie but we also have to make a decision with their goalie, and Chloe made a great one,” said UMaine coach Josette Babineau, whose team beat Cal 2-1 in the semifinals a year ago en route to its first AE tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth.

“They’re a phenomenal team. I love games like this. It was fulfilling,” added Walton, who had a game-high six shot attempts and was a threat throughout the contest.

“This was a total team win,” said Lambert. “Cal always comes out hard. They’re fast and they’re physical.”

Cal coach Shellie Onstead said it was a typical highly contested UMaine-Cal game, and she feels they are the best two teams in the conference.

“We made a couple of critical mistakes, but, other than that, we played a perfect game,” said Onstead. “It was a great game.”

Both goalies were outstanding despite the seven goals. Borley made seven saves on 13 shots and Knipping had seven on 18.

Takeaway: UMaine had to work hard for this win against a very good California team whose record isn’t indicative of how good it is. Both teams are legitimate contenders. Borley and Knipping are two of the best goalies in the conference. UMaine didn’t allow a goal on Cal’s nine penalty corners.

Next: UMaine hosts Providence in a non-conference game on Sunday at 1 p.m. while Cal visits New Hampshire at noon.