The ball was on the ground a lot longer than expected to start Tuesday’s game.
Both Cal and Fresno State exchanged several turnovers in the first quarter of the game at Witter Field, causing the ball to be lost on the rainy field.
Although senior midfielder Vail Horn notched the first two goals less than a minute into the contest, the Cal lacrosse team’s match against Fresno State stood at a standstill in terms of the score. For the next 10 minutes, the Bears and the Bulldogs would only play a game of cat-and-mouse, scurrying after the lost ball after an excessive amount of drops and turnovers.
However, the Bears (7-5, 4-2 in the MPSF) completely overturned their opponent by a 14-point chasm, winning their second-to-last conference game with an 18-4 victory.
“I think we just got a little ahead of ourselves in the beginning,” said senior attacker Tara Arolla. “We were working really hard, but we were making a lot of sloppy passes.”
After the Bears scored the first two goals, the game downshifted into an eight-minute scoring drought that the Bulldogs (2-8, 0-4 in the MPSF) eventually broke to put themselves on the scoreboard. Even afterwards, Cal did not manage to score until junior attacker Melissa Humphrey netted an eight-meter goal in the middle of the first half.
“We really had to focus on playing our game and not focusing on the other team as much,” said junior defender Sarah Milik. “I think that really showed later on in the game.”
With 10 minutes left before halftime, the Bears began to pick up their game, scoring three consecutive goals within two minutes before the Bulldogs called a timeout. Junior attackers Megan Takacs and Melissa Humphrey, who are among the nation’s leaders in NCAA offensive statistics this week, both contributed with goals and assists to make the score 6-1.
After the timeout, Cal reversed its protracted start to the game and accelerated to finish its first half with a commanding 9-3 lead.
The Bears’ speed carried on into the second half, as they notched the first six goals of the period to make the score 15-3. While midfielder Marcy Levatino managed to squeeze in one goal for her team in the second period, the Bears launched another three goals to finish the game off at 18-4. By the end of the match, it was clear that the Bears had completely dominated their conference opponent.
“We controlled the draws well,” Arolla said. “We focused on trying to get support for the ball and boxing out those players from the other team who were going for it — which definitely helped us control the majority of the game.”
With its victory over the Bulldogs this afternoon, Cal has strengthened its position in the top four of the MPSF rankings. The Bears had a losing conference record near the beginning of their season, with two close losses to Denver and Oregon. However, the team hopes to avenge its losses in the conference tournament at the end of April.
“Throughout this season, we didn’t necessarily execute to the best of our abilities,” Arolla said. “But, we’re just going to forget about the past, and hopefully make up for it during the MPSF Tournament.”