Cal lacrosse snaps losing streak with home victory over Marquette

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Michael Wan/Staff

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The Cal lacrosse team beat Marquette (2-6) on Thursday to win its first home game of the season and end what had been an ugly losing streak. The team worked together better than it has all season, and had no trouble transitioning the ball up the field each possession. Even when the Bears did not have the ball, they almost always managed to win it back immediately. Each goal they scored only empowered them more, and as their confidence rose so did their aggressiveness.

Cal (2-7) dominated the first half, controlling the possession time and making the most of the opportunities it created. Senior captain Jena Fritts immediately set the pace, scoring the first goal of the game in the second minute. While Marquette tied it up quickly, the Bears responded with a five-goal scoring streak. They were dynamic on offense, passing the ball around the Golden Eagles’ goal and collecting nine free position shots. Over the course of the game, the Bears outshot Marquette, 38-29.

“It was definitely a team attack,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “(The offense was) targeting more veteran players like (Fritts), they were really aware of them and sliding early. Our other players really stepped up and each put a couple in the back of the net so that was huge, it was definitely a team effort.”

Marquette started the second half strong, putting in two goals to bring the score to 8-7. Cal slowly gained speed, however, and began to return to its first-half glory. The Bears scored four goals by four different players in three minutes, one of which was freshman Caitlin McCarthy’s first collegiate goal.

This run didn’t last long, as Marquette wasn’t willing to lie down and roll over. The remainder of the game was a tough battle as both teams continued to score. With 11 minutes remaining, the Golden Eagles scored to bring the game within two points. After that goal, Cal took over with a five-goal run to finish the game, 18-11.

“It’s ironic because we just came off of three games in six days,” Eubanks said. “You would think that this would be our most tired game, and they were energetic, they were hard-working, and it was definitely about heart and hustle today.”

Impressive saves by sophomore Jenny Wilkens in goal aided the Bears in their first home win. She made six saves in both halves, reaching double-digit saves for the fifth game this season.

“She is our backbone of the team,” Eubanks said. “She keeps it together for us whether it’s going our way or not. She gives us a ton of opportunities and she’s composed, we rely on her a ton to obviously keep the ball out of our net, but also to be the spark for our offense and get it down to their end.”

Thursday’s more team-oriented offense led to eight different Cal players scoring. Both Fritts and junior Kate Mattimore recorded hat tricks, with Fritts tallying five goals. The Bears will now take a little over week off before heading to San Diego to play Brown and No. 5 USC.

“I think (this break is) kind of perfect timing,” Eubanks said. “Besides Brown, we are going into conference games. To me we just reached our midpoint, and we have a week now. It was the first part of the season and now we have our second part. We were two-seven in the first part of the season and I’m hoping have more wins than losses in the second part.”

This win was exactly what the Bears needed as they begin to face their remaining games this season, all but one against conference opponents. The players looked confident on the field and Marquette looked shockingly overmatched. If Cal can continue to channel this energy after such a long break, it stands a chance to place in the MPSF tournament.

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