Cal lacrosse ends 8-game losing streak with win against Saint Mary’s

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Timothy Dawson/File

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It’s finally broken.

In its last match of the season, the Cal women’s lacrosse team ended its eight-game losing streak and finished the night with a hard fought victory.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Bears (4-12, 2-7 MPSF) had also lost eight away games in a row, five of which were during their end-of-season away game stretch that began at the beginning of this month. They finally, however, notched their first road win of the 2016 season at the closest away game to Berkeley yet, in Moraga, California, against Saint Mary’s. The victory means the team has achieved one of the objectives it set for itself this season. Head coach Brooke Eubanks has vocalized on multiple occasions, particularly toward the end of the season, that beating a team on the road was an important goal for Cal.

The win also means that the Bears end their season just marginally better than last year’s 3-13 overall record. They were unable, however, to better last season’s conference record and, after beating the Gaels, tied last year’s mark at 2-7.

Cal never trailed in Wednesday’s game with Saint Mary’s not scoring until nearly the last 10 minutes of the first half. By then, the Bears were already ahead by four goals. At halftime, Cal still led, 6-2, and pulled away even more once play resumed. It scored seven unanswered goals before Saint Mary’s could get another one of its own on a failed clear by Wilkens.

The Bears’ performance featured a very well-rounded offense, with seven of its players scoring goals. Junior attackers Elizabeth Pellechi and Jena Fritts led their team with three scores apiece. Trailing them by just one goal were sophomore midfielder Meredith Haggerty, senior attacker Lizz Lavie, senior attacker Brynn Gasparino and sophomore midfielder Chloe Landry. Gasparino and Lavie’s two scores were their last wearing their Cal jerseys. Junior Nicole Vincelette, the final scorer for the Bears, made her first goal of the season in its last few minutes. Four players were also responsible for assists: Fritts, Lavie, Haggerty and sophomore defender Hannah Stapp.

Cal freshman goalie Jenny Wilkens had an impressive game as well, with 13 saves. Senior goalie Helen Hansen subbed in for Wilkens at the end of the game, completing her final season with the Bears protecting the cage. Collectively, the Cal goalies only let in five goals, keeping the Gaels’ score low while the Bears’ continued to increase.

The Bears’ win was also facilitated by the Gaels’ repeated relinquishing of opportunity. For example, they had 14 free shot opportunities as a result of fouls by Cal, but only made two of them, while the Bears capitalized making three out of their four shots.

Despite the superior number of goals, the Bears were outshot by Saint Mary’s 29-31. Cal was, however, more aggressive in ground balls, which it won 17-13, and had six fewer turnovers. Such statistics demonstrate that Cal made more of its possessions than the Gaels. Furthermore, it had significantly more saves, with 18 to Saint Mary’s 11.

Despite ending on this high note, the Bears have not done well enough this season compete in the MPSF championship tournament next at the end of April at Stanford.

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