Cal lacrosse loses 2 matches to drop to 1-5

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Joshua Jordan/Staff

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The Cal women’s lacrosse team’s hopeful outlook for the weekend came crashing down when it lost both of its home games, extending its losing streak to three games and putting its record at 1-5. However, it was not all bitter as the Bears’ second game of the weekend against St. Joseph’s showed more teamwork and hustle than their first game against Michigan, or even than any of their other games so far this season.

The Bears started the weekend Friday against Michigan (1-5), who earned their first win of the season against Cal, 14-4. Throughout the game, the Bears did their best to maintain a strong defense by intercepting passes and slowing down runs. However, that was not enough to stop the onslaught of Wolverine goals. In the first half alone, Michigan outshot Cal 18-3, and the Bears were only able to score one goal to the Wolverines’ seven. Cal’s offense couldn’t capitalize when it had the ball in the attacking third of the field, and Michigan’s defense was solid, forcing Cal’s possessions to be cut short by the shot clock. Cal picked it up in the second half and tied Michigan for shots, 15-15, but only converted three of those.

“I think that the hard thing is that we prove it in practice and we are having a hard time translating it on game day,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “We need to learn how to win. We know how to compete, we know how to push each other in practice but we need to learn how to win.”

After the disappointing loss against Michigan, Sunday’s game against St. Joseph’s (2-2) was a good change of pace. In spite of the bizarre weather conditions, which moved from rain to sun to hail and back again, Cal put up a tenacious fight. But its fight proved to not quite be enough, as the Hawks eventually pulled out an 18-17 win.

“It was exciting, it was very fast-paced, and lot of goals were scored,” Eubanks said. “There were a lot of contributors, we had at least (six) people who put points on the board in some capacity, so really it was a team effort which I think is a good transition from what we have been working on. We’ve been focusing on not being so individual and really playing together, and I do think they did that today.”

The Bears had four players score hat tricks against St. Joseph’s: senior captain Jena Fritts and senior Elizabeth Pellechi scored four goals each, while freshmen Susie Ropp and Kirsten Swanson each scored the first hat-tricks of their careers. This production was much-needed after the lack of goals in the game against Michigan.

Cal beat the Hawks in shots taken, ground balls and most importantly, draw controls. Eubanks had stated that winning draw controls was a big goal for the weekend, and while the Bears tied Michigan 10-10 on draw controls, they far outdid St. Joseph’s, 22-14. Against the latter, junior Meredith Haggerty dominated, winning seven draw controls.

“(Meredith) and Eliza (Christman) were doing a really good job of communicating before the ball was set, and then Eliza put it in the space and Meredith was just coming up big time,” Eubanks said. “It’s definitely about who wants it more. There is strategy to the draw, but then it kind of comes down to who is going to do everything to get it and Meredith definitely did that today.”

This was also a big weekend for Cal’s freshman goalie Makayla Ward. Ward started it by playing the last 15 minutes for the Bears against Michigan and making four saves in her short time on the field. The game Sunday, however, was where she really stepped up. Ward went onto the field two minutes into the game because of an injury to the Cal starting goalie, sophomore Jenny Wilkens. She played the remainder of the game and made seven saves.

“(Mikayla) went in there and and she really was positive, was energetic and was communicating with the defense,” Eubanks said. “She was really doing everything she could to jump in there and make a positive impact.”

Regardless of the losses, the Bears have many positive takeaways from the weekend. They were able to come back from a bad loss Friday and put up a tough contest Sunday. Cal improved on draw controls and proved that multiple attackers are capable of scoring instead of depending on a single person. The Bears must continue these positive patterns in the upcoming games if they hope to raise their standing and qualify for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament.

Sophie Durham covers lacrosse. Contact her at [email protected].