The Cal lacrosse team’s home opener with James Madison was a back-and-forth contest right until the end of the second half. Tied at nine, the Dukes surged with four consecutive goals to win, 13-9, on Thursday afternoon.
At Witter Field, the Bears (1-1, 1-0 in MPSF) played a tough second match of the season. While Cal had no trouble managing the midfield against the St. Mary last weekend, the squad fought a hard battle against James Madison.
“We knew we were coming in as the underdogs, but I think our team had a lot of faith and confidence in each other, in our own skill and in how hard we’ve been working,” said Cal coach Ginger Miles.
Two minutes into the first half, midfielder Caitlin McHugh — assisted by attacker Monica Zabel — scored the first two goals of the game, giving James Madison an early 2-0 lead. However, the Bears retaliated with midfielder Megan Takacs and attacker Alexa Rozelle, who each made a goal to tie the game. This theme of give-and-take governed the entire first half, resulting with a halftime score of 5-4 with Cal in the lead.
During halftime, the Bears came together in a huddle to discuss how they should approach the final half of the game.
“We just wanted to think about it as another 30-minute game — we wanted to come out as if we just started, with 0-0 on the scoreboard,” said goalie Megan “McGee” McGinnis. “We came out strong, and we just wanted to keep that same excitement and attitude, and I think it paid off.”
With 10 minutes left in the game and a score stuck at 9-9, both teams were matched up in all aspects of the game — shots, saves, ground balls, clears and even fouls. However, in those last few minutes, the Dukes scored the final four goals of the game. Among those who scored were Casey Ancarrow, member of the U.S. National Lacrosse Team, and Monica Zabel, who led her team with five points — two goals and three assists.
Although the Bears were disappointed with the final score, they were not discouraged with the way they played and the mindset they had throughout the game.
“I want to say that we didn’t struggle with anything; we just gave a 100 percent effort, which we’ve been working on all along,” McGinnis said. ”Our midfield was fantastic, and we stayed very collected. When we were getting double-teamed, we knew where to look and exactly what to do in almost every situation.”
While Cal did not come out with a second win, the squad is confident in the lessons it learned from facing a powerhouse like the Dukes.
“We knew that this was a relentless team who always came out with a lot of energy,” Miles said. “We knew that we not only had to match that energy but surpass it. This team was a team we could go toe-to-toe with down the stretch. We proved today that we can hang with any team in the country.”
This Sunday, the Bears will face off against Oregon in Eugene, Ore., for their second MPSF match of the season.