Cal lacrosse falls against Oregon, Fresno State

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Timothy Dawson/File

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A turnover with 9:40 left in the first half looked promising for the Cal women’s lacrosse team (3-8). Despite Oregon’s 7-2 lead, the players on the field were energized, and the players on the bench and the fans in the stand were all cheering. But sophomore attacker Kate Mattimore missed her shot attempt and once again, Oregon (8-4) had the ball.

Just as they had in the rest of the game, the Ducks quickly brought the ball back down the other side of the field and set up around goal. Within seconds, they had a free shot attempt. The Bears seemed like they had salvaged the situation with a turnover, but after fighting to make a shot, they gave up the ball again.  A quick combination of long passes and short tosses later, the Ducks were, as they had been before, in scoring position. This back and forth was typical of Friday’s game, which Oregon won 15-5 at Memorial Stadium.

A few Cal plays, however, did stand out. For example, with just under 15 minutes left in the second half, senior attacker Lizz Lavie made a beautiful goal after an assist by Jena Fritts who now has 16 for the season. The ball was passed quickly down the field. No time was spent setting up around the 12 meter or cutting through the eight. Instead, the ball movement was fast and clean.

Yet, Cal could not stop the Ducks. Oregon outshot the Bears 31 to 12. With that many shot opportunities given away and so few taken, it was very difficult for Cal to come even close to victory.

Also significantly impacting the Bears’ performance was their spotty ball control throughout the game. In multiple instances, Cal’s catch attempts resulted in them tossing the ball up into the opposing team’s sticks. The Bears also suffered as a result of their inability to win draws — they had only six to the Ducks’ 16.

“Our fundamentals were really inconsistent, so was our catching and throwing and just being able to take care of the ball cleanly,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “And then they were able to beat us one-v-one. They have a great balanced attack and they were just able to execute today.”

Two days later, the Bears lost again, 15-5, this time to Fresno State (4-8), giving the Bulldogs their first MPSF conference win of the season.

Like Oregon, Fresno State outshot the Bears 26 to 17. Unlike Friday’s game, however, Cal split draw controls almost evenly with its opponent. It also had more turnovers than the Bulldogs, providing them with additional opportunities to take the ball into scoring position.

This matchup was the last game at Memorial Stadium this season. As such, it was also senior day. Each of the five seniors, including Nicole Beck, who is injured, were on the field Sunday. The players were aware of the bittersweetness of the day. Despite the initial celebration, five Bears ended their home careers with a tough loss. Regardless, they were very thankful for their team and the experiences they have had in their Cal jerseys.

“I’m a little emotional right now,” said team captain and senior defender Michele DeVincent. “Honestly, it was the best decision I ever made to come here and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Wins, losses, draws, this is the greatest team I have ever been a part of.”

The seniors and their teammates still have five more games this season, all against MPSF conference teams. The Bears will need to significantly improve their record if they want to get a good seed at the MPSF Championship at Stanford later this spring.

“With each conference game, there is a lot of pressure and every time you go out, (your opponents) are going to bring their best game,” Eubanks said. “Oregon was a great opponent. Fresno obviously had a great performance today. And it’s not necessarily so much about tactics, it’s more about hard work, grittiness and they definitely brought that today.”

This week, Cal begins its five away games with one against UC Davis (4-4) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The Aggies currently have two conference wins and one loss, and they are ranked fourth in the MPSF standings.

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