The Cal lacrosse team’s winning strategy of spreading the ball out became apparent in just the first minute of Sunday’s season opener when the squad scored a goal.
The Bears dominated their first MPSF match with draw control and ball possession to begin its conference season with an 18-6 victory over the St. Mary’s at Recreation Field in Moraga, Calif.
“By winning the first draw and moving around the ball as much as we could, we created extra opportunities for ourselves to get the ball down the field,” said coach Ginger Miles. “With that first draw, we controlled the ball, which meant controlling the court and controlling the game.”
Junior midfielder Melissa Humphrey led the Bears with nine points — three goals and six assists — to tie a Cal single-game record. Junior attacker Alexa Rozelle scored a game and career-high six goals, the most a Cal player has scored in a match since 2009.
“We did a really great job of spreading the ball around in attack,” Miles said. “We’ve been working hard to make sure multiple people touch the ball so we’re tougher to defend — so having Mel and Lex and their other teammates contribute to offense was awesome to watch.
Cal quickly reached a 7-0 lead, largely due to Humphrey. In addition to scoring the Bears’ first goal of the season, Humphrey set up goals for junior midfielder Megan Takacs, Rozelle and sophomore midfielder Hayley Olson. Gaels’ midfielder Amanda Cross scored to put the Gaels on the scoreboard 7-1, but Rozelle made two more goals, giving Cal a 9-2 halftime lead.
In the second half, both teams scored four goals each to make the score 13-6. Among those goals were two by senior midfielder Emily Abbood, who was playing in her first game since the 2010 season.
After Miles called a timeout early in the second half, the Bears finished strong scoring the final five goals of the game. Less than a minute after the timeout, Humphrey scored her second goal of the game off an Abbood assist, and later scored an eight-meter goal to give the Bears a 17-6 lead.
“Our attack ran offense so well,” Humphrey said. “When I was down the field and needed someone to find, they were just wide open. I got so many assists that way.”
Rozelle scored the game’s last goal seconds before the end of the game, wrapping up the rout of the Gaels. The Bears improved their record to 20-1 in the all-time series against St. Mary’s. This Thursday, Cal faces off against James Madison in its home opener.
“Defense and attack played a phenomenal game today,” said junior Melissa Humphrey. “But I think for this week, we have to continue working on being able to play a solid 60 minutes. If we can do that by Thursday, I think we’ll be able to get that second win.”