In taking down Oregon at home last week, Cal lacrosse picked up its sixth win of the season — a win total it has not reached since 2013 — but their final game of the season, a rematch against No. 13 Stanford at home, may be one of its biggest challenges of the season.
“An exciting thing about our conference is how we’re having home-and-aways,” said Cal head coach Brooke Eubanks. “That’s unusual for lacrosse. It really puts you to the test — ‘Are you going to learn from how you played them last time and make improvement, or not?’ ”
On March 17, the Cardinal spilled Bear blood on the Farm, handing Cal a 21-5 loss — its worst all year. That’s the most goals the Bears have allowed all season, and producing five goals is not going to cut it either.
But Cal has been flipping the script of late, especially in its Friday victory over Oregon. The Bears’ win shows major improvement since earlier in the season when the Ducks defeated them without much trouble.
After losing all six of its first conference matchups, Cal has since won two of its last three Pac-12 games, though then-No. 16 Colorado proved too much to handle.
There’s no doubt that Stanford, another ranked opponent, will bring the heat to California Memorial Stadium. The Cardinal are second in the Pac-12 and leads the Pac-12 in nearly every offensive figure — goals, assists, points, ground balls, draws, shots and shots on goal. It’s defense also allows the second fewest goals per game in the conference.
Whether Cal will be able to keep up with their age-old rivals remains to be seen. It will take a complete performance from the Bears from start to finish.
“We’ve been putting a lot of focus on playing a full 60 minutes, because every single game we have good pieces but then typically there’s a lull and that’s what kills us — our own game, not necessarily the other team’s game,” said redshirt senior defender Elizabeth Koehler.
With emotions likely to run high because of the combination of it being the seniors’ last home game and the deep-seated enmity against the visiting team, it’s hard to make any sort of prediction based on rational metrics. Expect to see a hard-fought war between these two teams Friday.
In the larger scope of things, both squads know that lacrosse isn’t everything, and the teams will be putting their differences aside for a higher cause.
Friday’s game will be dedicated to the One Love Foundation, an organization that works to raise awareness of relationship violence. The murder of Yeardley Love, a lacrosse player for UVA, by her boyfriend spurred on the creation of the One Love Foundation. The organization has gained a following in collegiate lacrosse circles around the country since its founding in 2010.
Cal lacrosse has made it a tradition to have one game per season dedicated to the cause. At the close of the match with Stanford, both teams will stand together in solidarity for the cause, putting aside their rivalry in athletics and embracing the platform that they have as a whole.