Cal lacrosse defeated by William and Mary in final 10 seconds of matchup

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Lianne Frick/File

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Cal (1-6) played William and Mary (2-5) this past Saturday in a rollercoaster of a game that boiled down to the last 10 seconds. After an impressive comeback by the Bears from four down in the second half, the Tribe were given a free-position shot with less than 10 seconds on the clock. They scored and pulled ahead 19-18, and the remaining six seconds didn’t give the Bears enough time to equalize.

“(It was a) heartbreaker,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks.

Cal started the game strong, and was up 4-1 by the seventh minute, with four different players scoring goals. But it was at this exact point that William and Mary found its footing and began to battle back. With less than nine minutes remaining in the first half, the Tribe took the lead and held it for almost the remainder of the game. The Bears ended the first half down 13-9.

Despite coming off the field disappointed, Cal went back on to the field in the second half with a different mindset — it was pressing more and playing with more aggression.

“(At halftime) we talked about how this game comes in waves and it’s a lot of momentum,” Eubanks said. “The great thing and the thrilling thing about our sport is that no lead is ever safe and you can always have a chance. They really came out with a whole different attitude, we crept back in the game slowly and were just able to tie it up.”

Cal freshman Susie Ropp was indispensable in the comeback attempt. After Cal allowed two Tribe goals to start the second half, Ropp set the pace for the remainder of game. She had scored only one goal in the first half, but she shocked the stadium by scoring three goals in less than two minutes to bring the score to 15-12.

“(Ropp) really stepped up huge and had a couple goals in a row to make what seemed like a large lead into something within reach,” Eubanks said. “To have a freshman be able to do that shows a lot of maturity.”

Ropp scored her fifth goal of the day with only a little more than a minute remaining to tie the game at 18-18. At the time, it seemed like this would force the game into “sudden victory” overtime. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, however, the referees awarded William and Mary a free-position shot. Senior Lindsey Jenks scored for the Tribe, putting them ahead by one goal. The six seconds remaining weren’t enough for Cal to retaliate.

“I’m really proud of the team for battling back,” Eubanks said. “We’ve had trouble in the past of falling behind and not being able to counter the other team’s attack, so we did a really good job and we had an opportunity but it just didn’t go in our favor today.”

The Bears have a short break before playing two games this week. They will face Connecticut on Tuesday and Marquette on Thursday before traveling to San Diego to play their remaining two games of the month.

“We have a quick turnaround with the games Tuesday and Thursday, and they are both really good teams,” Eubanks said. “I think it’s kind of a balance of resting the mind and body but also getting some work done and preparing for the next game, so we will watch film tomorrow and do some recovery stuff but we will definitely practice, probably how to slow the fast break.”

With this loss, Cal continues its slump while some of its conference opponents find themselves nationally ranked. The Bears need to prove that they can play competitively if they want to leave behind a memorable season. They are approaching the halfway point in the season, and if they aren’t able to make a comeback soon they may be left out of the MPSF tournament once again.

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