Cal lacrosse shakes off loss, bests Mercer, 18-8

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Michael Wan/File

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They say it’s important for the greats to have bad memory, but Cal lacrosse relived its frustrating loss to San Diego State over and over again, letting the memory marinate throughout practices this week. This alternative tactic, however, worked to perfection as the team channeled this fire to dismantle Mercer, 18-8.

“We (have) a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” said head coach Brooke Eubanks. “SDSU is a great program, but we knew that was a game that was within our control. (Practice on Monday) was all about a readiness to come back to work a bit unsatisfied, making sure that we are taking care of the details and not letting things slip.”

Cal meant business from the start, slashing through the Mercer defense to take a 4-0 lead only 10 minutes into the game.

Cal worked its offense methodically, earning multiple shot opportunities per possession with its fourth goal coming on the back end of three offensive ground-ball pickups. During this 4-0 run, Cal controlled six of the seven available ground balls.

By halftime, Cal lead 8-3 and its defense had also had its triumphs, forcing a couple of shot clock violations, and junior goalkeeper Jenny Wilkens entertained the crowd with an impressive save in a one-on-one situation.

Though up by five goals, Cal’s weakest link in the first half had been its substandard effort in the draw-control category as Mercer dominated Cal, 9-3.

“That (draw-control deficit) was definitely a huge point of focus when we were in halftime. (Senior) Chloe Landry stepped up and did a fabulous job,” Eubanks said.

In fact, Landry helped Cal to 12 draw controls in the second half, including a stretch of six straight. During this streak, Cal scored five goals on five possessions with no turnovers. This streak effectively wrapped the game up from that point on, even with a full 18 minutes remaining.

Sophomore Susie Ropp’s performance was another positive sign for Cal.

“After last game (I was) talking to my coaches and came to focus more on my team and less on myself, and I think that’s what really helped me step up,” Ropp said.

Ropp, Cal’s leading scorer of all returners, had three goals — her first, second and third goals of the season.

“This was probably one of our most consistent games that we’ve had, not just this year but last year as well. We’re not just trying to rely on one or two players to get the job done — we’re waiting for the best opportunity. Our consistency, our teamwork and our decision-making really helped us accomplish what we wanted to do today,” Eubanks said.

Armen Aprahamian covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @armnhammer_.