Cal lacrosse beats Longwood, ends losing streak

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Sam Engel/Staff

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With Memorial Stadium illuminating the field Tuesday evening, Cal lacrosse (1-3) broke its losing streak with its first win of the 2016 season by beating Longwood 13-11.

The Bears won the opening draw for only the second time this season, running directly to the 12 meter where they tossed the ball around and cut in and out of the 8 meter. It looked as if Cal was going to make the first goal, but Longwood (3-4) recovered a dropped ball and quickly brought it down to the other cage. A skillful cut by Lancers freshman Cassie Angeles resulted in the first score of the game.

The Lancers once again secured offensive control even after losing the draw brought the ball directly down the field again. Cal freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens, however, was ready. She made a beautiful save and successfully cleared the ball to her own team. Within seconds, junior Elizabeth Pellechi scored the Bears’ first goal. Just 30 seconds later, the Lancers made their second goal and for the first time this season, they had the leading score. Cal tied it after a minute, but shortly thereafter, Longwood took the lead for the rest of the first half.

Yet the Bears refused to give up. The excitement from the bench and the stands echoed from the field all the way into the press box several floors above. The stadium only went quiet when freshman Eliza Christman was injured and carried off the field by Cal Athletics staff.

“I think (the main difference between this game and previous games was) having a mentality adjustment and deciding to be aggressive and take risks instead of sitting back and kind of being reactive,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “We really tried to push being proactive. I think that was even a change from the first half to the second half of our game.”

Though Cal started the second half down 8-5, it came onto the field determined and ready to put up a fight. Within 12 seconds, sophomore Meredith Haggerty made a goal. The Bears were still hungry for more and within the next seven minutes, they made four more goals, regaining the lead. Though Longwood responded with a tying goal, it never found itself ahead again. The Lancers spent the rest of the game trying to keep up with the Bears’ powerful offense and struggling to get past their tough defense. Meanwhile, Cal continued to win draws and play aggressively. The players consistently backed each other up behind the crease and on the field.

“I really do feel like it was a total team effort,” Eubanks said. “We had eight people scoring goals and nine different people scoring points. I think that shows what a balanced attack it was.”

Such competence had yet to be seen in the 2016 season. The Bears proved that they are capable of not only holding their own but that they can dominate in many aspects of the game, particularly draws, an area in which they previously struggled. Their superiority, as demonstrated by their 18-7 win in draw control this game, stands in stark contrast to the very poor performance in past match-ups and is in great part because of the past week’s practice.

“We worked a lot on handling pressure, protecting our sticks to not get checked from behind and the draws, and I think that made a huge difference,” Eubanks said.

Cal will have another opportunity to execute what it has been working on in practice when it plays Vermont (1-4) on Friday.

Sarah Goldzweig covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected]