There are two Cal women’s lacrosse teams. The first is hesitant and nervous, incapable of commanding the field and lax with ball control. The second is its polar opposite, aggressive from the start of play, with a palpable energy that emanates from the players on the bench and envelops those on the field. Unfortunately, both showed up to Friday’s game against No. 19 Ohio State (2-1), just barely costing the Bears (0-1) their first win against a ranked team in 10 years. In their home season-opener, Cal lost 16-15.
Throughout the first half, Cal was repeatedly unable to capitalize on the draws, and the Buckeyes dominated offensively, maintaining a lead of no less than three goals from the first six minutes. Ohio State wasted no time exploiting the Bears’ hesitation. Just as it had a week prior in its game against Detroit, which it won 22-8, the Buckeyes’ offense took advantage of its opponents, repeatedly gaining possession and going straight to goal.
Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks feels her team’s performance was due to the uneasiness that results from being on the field in a competitive capacity for the first time this season.
“I think it came down to the pre-game jitters and just being like, ‘Woah, this is for real, it is game time,’ ” Eubanks said. “That was a little bit of a wakeup call for us.”
The tide began to turn during the second half. Cal emerged from the locker room with determination and drive, looking to close the point differential that had remained consistent throughout the entirety of the first half. At the 10 minute mark, the Bears were down 14-10, but after making three goals in two minutes they closed the spread to 14-13.
The Ohio State bench began to get nervous, desperation and anxiety sneaking into their voices as they realized for the first time that they could lose the game. For almost four minutes, the teams battled it out and, after two failed shots on goal, the Buckeyes finally scored. Cal responded with two goals of its own to tie the score. Neither team could put another point on the board before the clock ran out, leading to sudden-death overtime, which Ohio State won in the first 30 seconds.
“When you go into an overtime game, it really just comes down to that last draw control,” Eubanks said. “They got the possession and they were able to score. I think that if we were to play them again, it would be a very similar game, just as close.”
Regardless of the outcome, this game illustrates how far Cal has come. Its performance during the second half shows that the team will likely hold its own this season, presumably improving significantly on last season’s 3-13 record. Eubanks is staying very positive about the future, noting that the team has a lot of time to grow and improve.
“(Chloe Landry and Meredith Haggerty) are only sophomores and they are playing like upperclassmen — their physical presence, their speed, really being able to impact both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. They had some huge draw controls,” Eubanks said. “The future is bright with the underclassmen power we had today.”
Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]