The Cal lacrosse team cannot seem to catch a break. This weekend, the team played and lost two games, its record dropping to 0-3.
On Friday, in their first away game this season, the Bears fell 15-4 to Marquette (1-4). For the entire game, Cal was repeatedly incapable of matching the Golden Eagles’ offensive prowess and remained ineffective at preventing their advances with a tough defense. Marquette started off strong, scoring its first two goals within the first five minutes of play and setting the pace for the entire game. Its offense continued to make goals until just about the last minute of play.
“They played a lot of defense and we weren’t able to make plays at the beginning of the game,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “It starts from the draw, which is a total team effort. Marquette got a lot of draws early in the game.”
The game tested the entire Cal team, particularly the Bears’ young goalie, freshman Jenny Wilkins. Marquette shot the ball 37 times, but was only successful in 15 instances. The young player made 12 vitally important saves, inhibiting Marquette from achieving an even greater lead over the Bears.
“She played phenomenal in Marquette,” Eubanks said. “She came out strong and made 10 saves in the first half, which is outstanding. She is calm in the cage, has confidence and seems to be settling into Division 1 play. We just need to back her up, and when she makes the save, get the rebound.”
Rebounds were very important to the Fighting Eagles’ success in putting points on the board. On many plays the team made multiple rebounds, allowing it multiple chances to shoot on goal, and increasing the possibility that a shot would go in. The defense was unable to stop this from happening.
Marquette’s domination of the Bears did not come close to the damage done by No. 4 Notre Dame (5-0), who beat Cal, 21-2, on Sunday. The Fighting Irish have consistently been a top ranked team, and are currently the highest ranked team Cal will play this season.
“I think it is always intimidating going in and playing one of the top five teams in the country,” Eubanks said. “But it gives you a nothing-to-lose mentality, being able to go in there and just play.”
Unfortunately, the Bears did have something to lose: the game itself. Notre Dame scored 16 goals before Cal scored its first with just less than two minutes left in the first half. By halftime, the Fighting Irish had already scored 17 goals, the majority of their scores for the entire game. Though the Bears put up a comparatively better fight in the second half, they still only succeeded in scoring one more goal to the Fighting Irish’s additional four. Both Notre Dame’s offensive and defensive excellence were maintained until the final whistle.
Throughout the game, the Fighting Irish repeatedly capitalized on the draw, gaining possession almost every single time. This gave them the offensive upper hand from the beginning of nearly every play. While draws were one of the best parts of Notre Dame’s performance Sunday, they were one of the worst parts of Cal’s.
“You can’t expect to win when you are only getting four draw controls out of the whole game,” Eubanks said.
Draw control has been a problem in all three of Cal’s games this season. Fortunately for the Bears, they have some time before they play their next game. In practice this week, the coaching staff plans to emphasize draw controls. Perfecting them and other mechanics is key to being more competitive against future opponents and adding wins to the Bears’ losing record.
“I think it was a wake up call for us,” Eubanks said. “We have improved a lot from last season, but we have a long way to go. Playing against team like Notre Dame has allowed us to push the reset button and force us to get back to basics.”
The Bears can only hope that remastering lacrosse fundamentals will result in the wins that are so desperately desired.
Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]