Bears conquer Aztecs in first meeting

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The Bears finally played a satisfactory first half at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

At Aztec Field in San Diego, the Cal lacrosse team (3-2, 2-1 in the MPSF) jumped out to one of its best starts of the season to date, holding on to an early lead for an 18-9 conference victory over first-year program San Diego State.

Last Thursday, the Bears likewise notched an 18-9 win in their nonconference match against Detroit Mercy.  However, the Titans garnered an early lead in the first 10 minutes of the game due to Cal’s inconsistency with draw controls.

This time around, Cal’s first half was characterized by superior draw control and a few fast-break goals, resulting in the Bears’ commanding lead for the entirety of the game.

“Obviously coming out and starting the game strong was our point of focus today,” said coach Ginger Miles. “The girls simply executed what we had asked of them in terms of coming out fired up and ready to go from the first whistle.”

Senior midfielder Vail Horn put the Bears on the scoreboard by converting an eight-meter goal less than a minute into the match. After the Aztecs tied the game with their own eight-meter goal, Cal surged with three more points.

Reigning MPSF Player of the Week Meris Walsh collected the first of her five goals to give the Aztecs their second point of the game. However, the Bears stepped up their one-on-one defense, and senior Tori Harrison fiercely guarded Walsh. The Bears successfully prevented San Diego State’s offensive players from encroaching into their eight-meter arc, the critical scoring area. Five different players notched eight goals to rack up a season-high 12 points in the first half.

“Our offensive end came out with well-executed plays and team attacks,” Miles said. “They moved the ball around, making sure the focal point wasn’t in any one person but that they were all contributing.”

Cal and San Diego State each scored six goals in the second half. Midfielder Megan Takacs and attacker Alexa Rozelle, who both notched a game-high five goals each, were among the players who tallied points for the Bears.

However, the Bears’ victory was not the result of a dominant individual performance, but rather a product of each player’s impact on the offensive and defensive ends.

“We had an all-around team effort, as you can see by how many players scored today,” said Miles. “I don’t think there was any one player that won the game for us, but everybody doing all the things we’ve been working on, and doing them right from the first draw.”

In contrast to their previous match  against Detroit Mercy, the Bears capitalized on ball possessions right from the first minute of the game to make several fast break goals. Cal hopes to maintain and even improve its first half performance before its next match this coming Wednesday.

“The girls did a great job connecting with the field to get a couple quick goals,” Miles said. “It was something we haven’t quite seen in the past few games, but are hoping to continue to improve for next time.”

The Bears return to Witter Field on Wednesday for a nonconference match against Boston at 5 p.m.